The first five novels in the Hector Lassiter series—One True Sentence, Forever's Just Pretend and Toros & Torsos—are newly available from Betimes Books. (Ordering information below)———————
Key West is the setting for my new Hector Lassiter novel FOREVER'S JUST PRETEND, available for the first time ever from Betimes Books.
"The Last Key" is America’s southernmost-point. Buy property there these days? Best hope you hit the lottery to facilitate that dream.
A few things never change. Florida, the 1920s—investing in land down south during the Jazz Age was a seriously corrupt and wildly “bubbled” prospect.
Let’s declare that sad fact “novel pot stew.” More (implied) ingredients: Ernest Hemingway. Hem remains the most-noted resident Man of Letters in the history of Key West (AKA Bone Key, AKA Cayo Hueso).
|ERNEST HEMINGWAY IN|
HIS KEY WEST PERIOD
Hem’s ailing and tortured old man ate a gun after numerous financial and health setbacks just about the time Hem was wrapping up his masterful second novel.
Ill-considered Florida real estate investments played a pivotal role in the elder Hemingway’s ominous, shadow-casting check-out.
But Clarence’s eldest son ultimately bought Key West’s most beautiful home (albeit with his second wife’s family’s money) and made Bone Key his stomping ground for some number of years.
In my literary universe, Hector Lassiter got to the island first.
But Hector didn’t find Key West on his own.
Credit that dubious discovery to Hector’s eventual first wife, Brinke Devlin.
The seeds of Forever’s Just Pretend nest in One True Sentence, when Brinke invites Hector to meet her on Valentine’s Day 1925 on the sultry coral-bed island of her choice.
Hemingway was seemingly lured to Key West for a first visit by fellow novelist John Dos Passos (JDP himself makes the Lassiter scene in Toros & Torsos).
Key West: It’s just about one-hundred miles from Cuba. It has scanty beaches, above-ground graves and is littered with over-priced, tin-roofed shotgun shacks. To the good, it seems strangely impervious to hurricanes.
|KEY WEST, DAYS OF YORE|
Residential fires on the island are another plot aspect in Forever’s Just Pretend. A devastating fire mentioned in the novel that wiped out swaths of properties circa FJP and the Ragtime Florida real estate boom is fact. (Hell, even the Marx Brothers got in on that Florida land-action act in The Coconuts.)
Key West: Sinful, sultry and seductive. A perfect setting for a carnally-charged novel of wicked crime and ballsy con games.
(A little lurid literary foreshadowing: The Lassiter series revisits the scene of Forever’s crimes in its chronological follow-up, Toros & Torsos, also now available in repackaged and expanded form from Betimes Books.)