Sunday, September 1, 2013


This Labor Day weekend marks the 78th anniversary of the Great Florida Keys Storm of 1935 — still the most powerful hurricane to strike the United States. 
The storm is a critical element in my novel TOROS & TORSOS, currently free for Kindle this Labor Day weekend. (Download your free copy HERE.)
The ’35 hurricane occurred at a time before tropical storms were given names. Storm forecasting was an uncertain science. And officials charged with the responsibility of informing and evacuating citizenry in the storm’s path were more grossly incompetent in performing their duties than those who bungled evacuations in the run-up to Katrina.
Toros & Torsos opens in Key West during Labor Day weekend, 1935. It finds Hector Lassiter and Ernest Hemingway preparing for the hurricane and traces their activities during and after the monster storm swept north of Key West.
America’s southernmost island was spared; the hurricane instead swamped and devastated the upper middle keys, killing numerous World War I vets left stranded on low-lying labor camps by dithering federal officials who had adequate time to evacuate them. 
The needless deaths of the vets and others had the effect of politicizing a previously apolitical Ernest Hemingway (admittedly, never an FDR fan) who was among the first to reach the destroyed keys to lend support and aid in collecting storm victims’ swollen, rotting bodies.
Hemingway wrote, “I would like to make whoever sent them there carry just one out through the mangroves, or turn one over that lay in the sun along the fill, or tie five together so they won’t float out, or smell that smell you thought you’d never smell again, with luck when rich bastards make a war. The lack of luck goes on until all who take part in it are gone…You’re dead now brother…Who left you there? And what’s the punishment for manslaughter now?”
In writing the Key West portion of Toros & Torsos, I consulted numerous Hemingway biographies, but the book I leaned hardest on is Phil Scott’s Hemingway’s Hurricane, which is not just the most comprehensive resource for Hemingway’s storm experience, but an excellent overview of the 1935 disaster that will be of interest to anyone who believes Katrina and government officials’ failure to adequately prepare for that gathering storm was an isolated phenomenon.


TOROS & TORSOS is currently available for free download as an eBook exclusively from

Although it is technically the second novel in the Hector Lassiter series, the book is set decades in advance of number one, HEAD GAMES, and so is a perfect starting point for first-timers. (On that note, during Labor Day Weekend, HG is also available for free Kindle download, giving you a great kickstart if you want to press on to Lassiter's #3 and #4, PRINT THE LEGEND and ONE TRUE SENTENCE, respectively.)

Hector Lassiter is a legendary crime novelist who writes what he lives and lives what he writes. But Hector frequently goes a step beyond, drawing friends and lovers into the tawdry and turbulent territory of his fiction. Now, the large-living pulp author has at last met his match in the ultimate performance artist: a phantom killer committed to the art of murder… a blood-thirsty provocateur who leaves a string of macabre tableaus modeled on famous works of surrealist painting and photography… 

Against the vivid backdrops of a killer hurricane that nearly destroyed the Florida Keys in 1935, the Spanish Civil War, post-war Hollywood and the first days of the Castro regime in Cuba, Hector engages in a decades-long duel against a cabal of killer artists…

As in its Edgar®-nominated predecessor Head Games, history and myth merge, drawing on recent scholarship pointing to the existence of a dark underground of artists, photographers and art collectors that flourished in Europe and United States through most of the Twentieth Century.

In a blood-limned haze of love, deception, murderous metaphor and devastating betrayal, nothing is what it seems and obsession and creativity collide in a wicked and unexpected climax that will shake the art world to its foundations… 

TOROS & TORSOS was also:

• A 2009 Crimespree Award finalist for Favorite Book

• A 2009 Crimespree Award finalist for Best in an Ongoing Series

• One of Woody Hauts' Favorites of 2009 (You can read his take on the book here.)

"A bold, ambitious, genre-bending novel from the talented Craig McDonald."

"In Toros & Torsos Craig McDonald takes pop culture, real people and invented action to create a powerful novel of suspense. It gives one the slippery sensation of time-travelling with characters you'd always wished you could meet and suddenly you can. McDonald is knowing and artful, and the suspense pushes at a lovely pace until it starts to stomp like Hemingway on an empty bota."

"Nothing short of a surrealistic masterwork."

"This is granite poetry in all its stone glory."

"Deftly mixes myth, history... McDonald's imaginative tale takes an enjoyably different approach to art and murder."

You can also learn more at my official site, and view additional trailers, access interviews and various other extras related to TOROS & TORSOS, including an interview I gave in France regarding surrealism and serial murder, right here.