Publishers Weekly has weighed in on the first new Hector Lassiter novel in three years. The short-form verdict? PW says: "Entertaining...a must read for series fans and a solid introduction for new readers." Read the entire review HERE.
I had the great privilege of participating in several events during this year's just-concluded 2014 Iowa City Book Festival. Festivities opened Thursday night with a free event in a spooky old church (some time ago "retired" as a house of worship) that focused on James Ellroy and his new novel, PERFIDIA. Mr. Ellroy rapped a bit, then read an excerpt from PERFIDIA. We followed with about 40 minutes of wide-ranging conversation before a packed house. After, we took audience questions and signed our respective works.
I'm told at least one film crew documented the exchange and it will likely appear online soon. In the meantime, here are some bullet points regarding Mr. Ellroy's new novel, the first in his emerging "Second L.A. Quartet." • Mr. Ellroy reread all of the novels in his original L.A. Quartet and subsequent Underworld USA Trilogy in preparation for PERFIDIA, taking detailed notes about his earlier characters that he blended with researcher's notes regarding World War II and war-era Los Angeles.
• He confirmed having an overarching plan for the next three novels in the four-book series, pledging he will deliver "a seamless continuity" across all of the various works.
• As implied by its title, the Second L.A. Quartet (which is technically the first as it's conceived as a prequel) will largely confine itself to Los Angeles. We shouldn't expect to follow any old or new characters to the European or Asian theaters of combat in volumes to come, he said. • Mr. Ellroy did give some hints about volume two of the new series, which he expects to land in about two-and-a-half-years. As foreshadowed in PERFIDIA, we'll be going south of the border for at least a bit of the next book in the company of "lexicon with a brogue" Dudley Liam Smith, whom PERFIDIA indeed indicates is soon-to-be Mexico-bound.
James Ellroy and John Kenyon in the Old Brick.
• The Japanese internments at Manzanar and similar camps are also expected to figure in the new book. For some melodic backstory on that dubious chapter of American history, an older song from Ellroy's fellow Angeleno and contemporary, singer/songwriter Tom Russell, as sung by Tom Paxton:
• Dudley Smith debuted along with his deadly minions Dick Carlisle and Mike Breuning in Ellroy's second novel, CLANDESTINE, also set in the 1950s. Asked if he views that novel fitting into this new, larger conception in any way, Ellroy said he emphatically did not, describing CLANDESTINE as one of his "kid writer" books and a straight-to-paperback effort he views as apart from Smith's other appearances in his mature works and this larger, emerging saga. • Mr. Ellroy is noted for the extensive outlines he uses to create his novels. The outline for PERFIDIA ran to over 700 pages. The U.S. hardcover of the finished book from Knopf also weighs in at 700-plus pages. However, Ellroy noted the original manuscript of PERFIDIA exceeded a thousand pages. • Mr. Ellroy intended to use his mother as an on-the-page character in his new series, but his editor balked, so she's instead hinted at under an altered identity. • Some non-book items: Mr. Ellroy confirmed he is working with filmmaker David Fincher on a potential project based on his eBook original novella "Shakedown," centered on real life (and deceased private eye) Fred Otash. Having said that, Mr. Ellroy made no promises the project would ultimately see the light of day. • He is also working on a script for a new version of the classic film noir "Laura."
On Friday night, a special screening of the Oscar-winning L.A. CONFIDENTIAL was held at FilmScene. While still praising of the work, Mr. Ellroy expressed his opinion the adaptation of his novel is not a "profound" film. It has some significant plot issues, he said, and he isn't convinced by several of the leads. He did, however, praise Guy Pearce and Danny DeVito, as he has done previously.
On Saturday morning, I participated in a discussion with Levi Stahl, editor of a terrific collection of nonfiction pieces by the late-Donald Westlake he calls THE GETAWAY CAR. Mr. Stahl and I briefly discussed our respective works, then read some excerpts (I read from the opening pages of FOREVER'S JUST PRETEND). After, we discussed crime and mystery writers, the craft of crime fiction, and some little known facts about Mr. Westlake, including a youthful criminal act that briefly landed him in jail and may have had an impact on Westlake's later writing career (particularly in terms of subject matter and a potential identification with lawbreakers). Later that same afternoon, I joined Franca Treur, Kinana Issa, June Melby, Chi Li and Jon McGoran for a panel on the twin and tangled topics of "Loyalty and Betrayal."
The very craft of writing was addressed from various perspectives as a kind of potential betrayal by several of us on the panel, although our takes on how the craft of constructing a story—be it "true" or "false"—constitutes betrayal or loyalty reflected significant variation. For my part, I also discussed some of the exterior factors I feel impel today's writers to potentially "betray" their craft in quietly insidious ways—the pervasive demand for constant attention to "platform" and potentially off-putting self-promotion through social media and the like...tasks that threaten to distract from the actual writing. As you may have already gathered, our panel was decidedly multi-cultural (in addition to we three Americans, the other authors represented Syria, the Netherlands and China). It was striking, at least to me, how some of the non-U.S. authors discounted any pressures they felt exerted upon them for similar self-promotional efforts by their publishers or respective cultures. Saturday closed with a "Noir at the Bar" event at FilmScene with fellow crime writers John Kenyon, Jon McGoran and Scott Phillips. We took turns doing some readings. (In a playful gesture, I read a bit from PRINT THE LEGEND, in which perceived genre writer Hector Lassiter finds himself keynoting a literary event and brushing shoulders with sometimes askance literary academics). Following our readings, Scott introduced a screening of THE ICE HARVEST, based on his acclaimed novel of the same name and directed by the late-Harold Ramis.
I want to thank the organizers of this terrific festival and all those great people of Iowa City who turned out for events spread out across the former churches, the coffee shops, senior centers and movie houses of Iowa City.
You can make a
good case for Ernest Hemingway having left a profound mark on hardboiled crime
students and crime fiction aficionados have murdered trees arguing whether
Hemingway influenced Dashiell Hammett or whether inspiration ran the other
incorporated Hemingway in his fiction, wrote an astonishingly inept parody of
Hemingway prose and staunchly defended Hem’s much-pilloried novel Across the River and Into the Trees.
Hem’s had many near
brushes with composing crime fiction: “The Killers,” that opening Tommy
gun salvo in To Have and Have Not and his aborted crime novel Jimmy Breen (dropped in favor of A Farewell to Arms) — all toed the genre line. Hemingway was in fact a
frequent crime fiction and thriller reader.
In A Moveable Feast, he writes of Gertrude Stein giving him a copy of Lowndes’ Jack the
Ripper novel The Lodger, sending Hem off on a Lowndes reading tear.
Later, he moved on to Simenon, and letters and book requests sent his editor
indicate Hemingway also sampled Chandler, Hammett and Ian Fleming.
In the Cuba
portion of Toros & Torsos, I allude to a woman’s mutilated torso
that was found not far from Hem’s Cuban home, the Finca Vigia. This is not an
invention on my part: the murder is remarked on in several Hemingway
unsolved, the mutilation murder was variously ascribed to a deranged spouse or
boyfriend, the Cleveland Torso Slayer, some other serial killer or some bizarre
rite associated with a secretive religious cult peculiar to Cuba.
Whatever the truth behind the grisly murder, it clearly made a very
strong impression on Ernest Hemingway as he writes about it in an eerie passage
that survives in his posthumously published novel Islands in the Stream.
Prolific pulp novel legends Lester Dent (Doc Savage) & Walter B. Gibson (The Shadow) both had the actual experience of witnessing their characters come to life, a chilling historical claim that sets the stage for this new series of neo-noir pulp adventures!
WRITE FROM WRONG
Hector Lassiter, Black Mask Magazine legend, crime novelist and screenwriter rubs shoulders with a who's who of 20th Century legends including Ernest Hemingway, Doc Savage creator Lester Dent, Walter B. Gibson of Shadow fame and Orson Wells.
HEAD GAMES, THE GRAPHIC NOVEL
A pulp-noir adaptation of the Edgar Award-nominated novel introducing Black Mask author, crime novelist and screenwriter Hector Lassiter.
Edgar®/Anthony/Macavity/Gumshoe/Crimespree nominated novelist of HEAD GAMES: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, ONCE A WORLD, WRITE FROM WRONG, ONE TRUE SENTENCE, FOREVER'S JUST PRETEND, TOROS & TORSOS, THE GREAT PRETENDER, ROLL THE CREDITS, THE RUNNING KIND, HEAD GAMES, PRINT THE LEGEND, DEATH IN THE FACE, THREE CHORDS & THE TRUTH, EL GAVILAN, PARTS UNKNOWN, CARNIVAL NOIR, CABAL and ANGELS OF DARKNESS. Nonfiction titles include ART IN THE BLOOD and ROGUE MALES: CONVERSATIONS & CONFRONTATIONS ABOUT THE WRITING LIFE.
ONCE A WORLD — The acclaimed prequel to the Hector Lassiter series
Hector Lassiter's story begins, from his journey into Mexico to catch Pancho Villa, to the bloody trenches of World War I.
ONE TRUE SENTENCE (Hector Lassiter Series #1)
Hector Lassiter Series: #1 Bestseller, Amazon.com.au; One Of BookPeople's Top 10 Of 2011 & Poisoned Pen Staff Favorite. "Vivid, remarkable characters... Absolutely gripping!"—Diana Gabaldon
FOREVER'S JUST PRETEND (HECTOR LASSITER SERIES #2)
Hector Lassiter Series: #3 Bestseller, Amazon.com.au! "Entertaining...a must read for series fans &...for new readers."—Publishers Weekly
TOROS & TORSOS (HECTOR LASSITER SERIES #3)
Hector Lassiter Series: #4 Bestseller, Amazon.com.au! Named to numerous Year's Best Lists! "A bold, ambitious, genre-bending novel."—George Pelecanos
THE GREAT PRETENDER (HECTOR LASSITER SERIES #4)
Hector Lassiter Series: #2 Bestseller, Amazon.com.au! "McDonald cagily splits up the action, with Welles in full enfant terrible mode in the first half of the book—much of the story unfolds on the night of the infamous War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938—while the second takes place in the late 1940s as the filmmaker's star is already burning out."—Vince Keenan, author of DOWN THE HATCH
ROLL THE CREDITS (HECTOR LASSITER SERIES #5)
Hector Lassiter Series: #5 Bestseller, Amazon.com.au! "A writer of truly unique voice, approach, and ambition, Craig McDonald delivers again with ROLL THE CREDITS. Not to be missed." —Michael Koryta
THE RUNNING KIND (HECTOR LASSITER SERIES #6)
"Just the right amount of history, suspense, action and familiar faces to make his alternative history fascinating."—Terry Bowman, author of FIONA'S RULES
HEAD GAMES (HECTOR LASSITER SERIES #7)
Hector Lassiter series: Edgar & Anthony Awards Finalist! #5 Bestseller, Amazon.com.au! Coming autumn 2017 as a graphic novel from First Second! "Smart, it's funny, and it moves like a roach when the lights go on."—James Sallis
PRINT THE LEGEND (HECTOR LASSITER SERIES #8)
Named To More Than A Dozen Year's Best Lists; the most translated of the internationally best-selling series of novels! "An epic masterpiece.”—Michael Connelly.
DEATH IN THE FACE (HECTOR LASSITER SERIES #9)
The penultimate Hector Lassiter novel with 007-creator Ian Fleming; selected by The Rap Sheet as a 2015 novel of the year; praised by Publishers Weekly and Booklist!
THREE CHORDS & THE TRUTH (Hector Lassiter series #10)
The climax of the Hector Lassiter series, from Betimes Books. "With THREE CHORDS & THE TRUTH, Craig McDonald has crafted a remarkable coda to the series."—Steven Powell, author of JAMES ELLROY: DEMON DOG OF CRIME FICTION; "Grabs the reader by the throat." —Publishers Weekly. Get your copy here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N0D4UFX
Now Available from Betimes Books
Starred Review From Publishers Weekly! PW Pick of the Week. "As sobering and as urgent as tomorrow's headlines."—Publishers Weekly
PARTS UNKNOWN (CHRIS LYON SERIES #1)
#1 in Chris Lyon series of eBook exclusive thrillers, now available
CARNIVAL NOIR (CHRIS LYON SERIES #2)
#2 in Chris Lyon series of eBook exclusive thrillers, now available.
CABAL (CHRIS LYON SERIES #3)
#3 in Chris Lyon series of eBook exclusive thrillers, now available.
ANGELS OF DARKNESS (CHRIS LYON SERIES #4)
#4 in Chris Lyon series of eBook exclusive thrillers, now available and featuring Hector Lassiter!