Saturday, November 29, 2014


Every once in a great while, strange coincidences occur. Things intersect unexpectedly.

In a post yesterday regarding the Chris Lyon series and its ties to my Hector Lassiter novels, I off-handedly mentioned author Philip José Farmer and the Wold Newton Family/Universe concept that was launched by Mr. Farmer in two biographies he wrote of two “fictional” characters during the 1960s: John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke (AKA, Tarzan) and Clark Savage, Jr. (AKA, Doc Savage).

The latter became a hero of mine in the 1960s when my grandfather handed me a paperback reprint of the second Doc Savage pulp, THE LAND OF TERROR, penned by one Kenneth Robeson (a house name disguising its real author, Lester Dent). 

I became obsessed with the Savage character and read everything, including Mr. Farmer’s biography of Mr. Savage, as well as his pastiches involving the character and Doc’s pulp cohort, The Shadow (at one point, Mr. Farmer even wrote short stories involving Mr. Dent, and Walter B. Gibson, the man who wrote most of The Shadow novels through the 1930s and ’40s).

I became enthralled with Farmer’s literary detective work in linking up biographies and family trees by tracing clues across disparate fictional works. I liked the idea of everything, really, joining up, just so. And, so, in that post yesterday, I referenced Mr. Farmer, and The Big Picture he pioneered, this theory of everything pulp fictional, so to speak, that he pretty much invented.

Imagine my surprise when, a few hours after setting an auto-post on the blog entry mentioning Mr. Farmer (a post not quite gone live at that point), that a site run by authors intent upon carrying on Mr. Farmer’s Wold Newton efforts focused very squarely and unexpectedly on Hector Lassiter and one of my new novels featuring the novelist/screenwriter, THE GREAT PRETENDER.

Over at the Crossover Universe, Sean Levin wrote in part:

"Author Hector Lassiter suggests to a mysterious woman that he has just met that they go to the Cobalt Club. The woman replies that it sounds better than the Pink Rat. Lassiter and the woman, Cassie Allegre, leave the Cobalt in a cab driven by a man named Moe. The Cobalt Club, the Pink Rat, and Moe “Shrevvy” Shrevnitz are from the Shadow novels. Lassiter’s friend Orson Welles appears in the book, and reference is made to him voicing the Shadow on the radio. However, the comic book story “To Cloud Men’s Minds” (The Shadow Strikes! #7 by Gerard Jones, Rick Magyar, and Frank Springer, DC Comics, March 1990) establishes that Welles (or Grover Mills, to use the pseudonym given to him by Jones) did briefly produce a radio show loosely based on the Shadow’s exploits in the CU. This crossover brings Hector Lassiter into the CU."

As I’ve said, for many decades, I’ve been a fan of Mr. Farmer and I’ve kept a toe in the Wold Newton waters, including an avid read a few years back of this gem called MYTHS FOR THE MODERN AGE, edited by Win Scott Eckert, which I was inspired by Mr. Levin’s blog post to dig out of my library and revisit over lunch today. 

As it happens, I read that Shadow comic Mr. Levin referenced back many moons ago, when it was fresh...even traded a note or two with its author sometime back, though nothing to do with that particular issue...just his work with The Shadow in general.

When I decided to revisit Orson Welles and his relationship with Hector Lassiter—determined to focus on The War of The World’s Panic Broadcast of 1938 and the filming of THE THIRD MAN, I decided to have a little fun with Shadow Easter Eggs—to run Mr. Lassiter through a gauntlet of NYC/Shadow landmarks including the Cobalt Club, the Pink Rat and to have him take a ride with Moe, the Shadow’s cabbie.

I’d done something similar in TOROS & TORSOS back in the day (another Lassiter featuring Welles and also name-checking The Shadow radio show to which Welles was fleetingly attached).

At the time TOROS was pretty new, another astute and bookish reader caught me at my meta-textual games and called me out on them. Corey Wilde wrote:

“Not content with overlapping his fictional creations with historical figures, McDonald weaves into the tale fictional characters that are not of his own creation. Case in point: A dinner guest mentions that she is reading a western novel by Holly Martens. Just in case that name doesn't ring a bell with you, Holly Martens was the name of the character, a writer of westerns, that Joseph Cotten played in THE THIRD MAN. And who starred in that film with Cotten? Orson Welles. But Orson Welles appears as himself in this story. Are you starting to get the idea that this book may be a little...surreal?”

The fact is, I do this kind of thing, a lot. Maybe too much.

But, the other fact is, most of my references are pretty obscure and so fly well under the radar.

My Lassiter novels, particularly, are brimming with references and winks to other fictional works. (I’m a big fan of the Alan Rudoph film, THE MODERNS, as I’ve confessed more than once. If you know the film, and if you read TOROS carefully, you could turn catching MODERNS’ references into a pretty intoxicating drinking game.  Hell, there are even some subtle nods at NORTHERN EXPOSURE in that novel.)

As the books stay out there and gather some years—as they garner more readers—more knowing people come on board and increasingly find me out.

A bit earlier this year, a pretty wonderful post (that, again, coincidently appeared on my birthday, of all days) regarding HEAD GAMES caught me in all of the obscure references inspired by Tom Russell's music that I crept into that novel—a book so inspired by Mr. Russell’s music that I actually dedicated the novel to the singer/songwriter.

A writer I much admire once remarked authors tend to build in these kind of little things to keep themselves amused or interested. Guilty as charged. But it’s also a way of acknowledging inspirations, artistic debts.

If you do it too much, or too loudly, you risk bouncing people out of your books. But if the right reader comes along, and embraces the knowing nods, it can open up a much wider fictional universe.

Oh, and that whole interconnectedness thing?

The next Hector Lassiter novel, coming out in just a couple of weeks, is called THE RUNNING KIND.

It's the usual mixture of little known historical crime and some real people...including a cameo by a certain Mr. Lester Dent.

Friday, November 28, 2014


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Between Nov. 26-30, the entire Chris Lyon series of eBooks is being offered for free download for Kindle. That's four volumes of literary thrillers that intersect with my Edgar-/Anthony-nominated Hector Lassiter series, including several key crossover characters. The first of the books, PARTS UNKNOWN, actually ties directly to the next Hector Lassiter novel to be released in December, THE RUNNING KIND.

Here's some background on the fourth volume of the Chris Lyon series...


It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

In the beginning of my fictional world, there was Chris Lyon.

The year was 1990: I had recently “discovered” James Ellroy. I had just finished reading THE BIG NOWHERE, still my favorite Ellroy novel, and was well into reading L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, when I decided I had to write my own crime novel. Ellroy was wholly the trigger for all that.

By that time, I had a sprawling first draft of a literary novel in hand—a book I’d been restlessly writing and rewriting for…well, for years. That novel was about a journalist named Chris Lyon. Chris’ supporting cast included two young women named Jenny Prather and Salome Arnaud, and the latter’s “adoptive father,” a sinister pool player and carnival manager. The characters were generally solid, I thought; the plot was just never really quite there. We learn by doing…

Having decided to write a crime novel, I kept those four key characters, and jettisoned that big, sprawling coming of age literary novel structure. In retrospect, I see Chris Lyon always wanted to front a crime novel, not another Bildungsroman the world really didn’t want or need.

My first crime novel was inspired by Ellroy—no question of that—but I didn’t want my book to read as if it was written in thrall to the Demon Dog.

I knew I was going to use a series of historical crimes to fire the novel I was already calling in my own head, PARTS UNKNOWN. I had settled on a murder cycle my grandmother used to talk about a lot: my native Ohio’s Depression-era series of Cleveland-based torso murders; killings investigated by Safety Director Eliot Ness in his post-Capone and Untouchables-era life.

To avoid any comparisons with Ellroy’s vintage crime novels, I decided to time-shift the Cleveland killings to late-1980s’ Columbus, more or less. To facilitate that transition, I created this Irish cop named Jimmy Hanrahan, who chased the Cleveland phantom and who would serve as Chris Lyon’s bed-ridden sidekick, so to speak, in chasing Columbus’ own “Mad Butcher.”

The process used to write my first crime novel all those years ago was very similar to the one I’d used to write the Hector Lassiter novels nearly a decade later. I had a beginning, an end, and in between, I had a wealth of historical mile markers from the actual Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run case to light my way and to plot toward and around.

It was, mostly, organized improvisation writing that first book. I still tend to write ’em that way.

As a student of fiction and author career arcs, I was very focused on the danger and challenge of drafting an effective second novel, even while writing that first crime novel. So, immediately, before number one was even revised, I began writing a second Chris Lyon novel, CARNIVAL NOIR.

PARTS UNKNOWN was shopped around to a number of agents many years ago, including Ellroy’s guy, Nat Sobel.

Feedback was good and encouraging, so I kept shopping the novel and kept writing other Chris Lyon installments, figuring to have a fully integrated, ready-to-go series in hand when that sale finally came through.

I had this further vision: A series about an author who more or less wrote his own life, using himself as a character; a crime novel series that would, in a Philip José Farmer/Wold Newton way, comprise a kind of secret history of crime and stand as a heady mythology for serial murder.

But that first book didn’t sell. Ellroy himself was little better than a cult figure in those pre-L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, THE MOVIE days, and the notion of a post-modern author/detective didn’t find any takers that decade.

I actually quit fiction writing for a while after that. It was a hiatus that ended when I got an idea for another author hero named Hector Lassiter, “the man who lives what he writes and writes what he lives.”

Writing the eight Lassiter novels in a kind of white heat over a period of a little over a year, I found myself plundering the Lyon novels for characters. Bud Fiske, Jimmy Hanrahan and others got a second lease on life in the Lassiter novels. (Chris Lyon, himself, found his way into the closing pages of Lassiter #3, PRINT THE LEGEND.)

In all, I wrote upwards of eight Chris Lyon novels—or, to be fair, I wrote about eight novels set in Chris’ world.

Thing was, I managed not to write what should have been the necessary and hyper-critical fourth Lyon novel—the book that caps the series-within-a-series that continues the story arc begun in PARTS UNKNOWN, and is furthered through CARNIVAL NOIR, CABAL and a loosely outlined but not written novel I planned to call ANGELS OF DARKNESS.

To put it bluntly, I had a quartet of novels lacking its fourth part.

Oh, I long had that title for that book: one selected in tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But that’s about all I had other than vague plot points.

So, in the spring of 2012, I sat down to write the novel I should have written back about 1993 or so to complete the Chris Lyon series. I had decided to package the Lyon novels as eBook originals, and to proceed with that plan, I had to fill in a big-ass continuity gap there, up front…I had to compose the missing fourth novel.

Because the Lyon and Lassiter series had entwined to such an extent by then, I decided to bring the two writers together on the page in a significant way. In April 2013, I released ANGELS OF DARKNESS, featuring Chris Lyon and Hector Lassiter, interacting together and fighting a common foe.

ANGELS caps Chris’ journey into darkness, but it also hearkens back into Hector’s past, touching on the second Lassiter novel, TOROS & TORSOS, while simultaneously filling in some holes in Hector’s biography.

In completing the first leg of Chris Lyon’s journey, ANGELS also set the table for some of the yet-to-be-published Hector Lassiter novels, including this December's release, THE RUNNING KIND, featuring Jimmy Hanrahan again at Hector's side, and again touching on the still officially unsolved Cleveland Torso murders.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but now that it’s done, it feels right.



AUTHOR'S NOTE: Between Nov. 26-30, the entire Chris Lyon series of eBooks is being offered for free download for Kindle. That's four volumes of literary thrillers that intersect with my Edgar-/Anthony-nominated Hector Lassiter series, including several key crossover characters. The first of the books, PARTS UNKNOWN, actually ties directly to the next Hector Lassiter novel to be released in December, THE RUNNING KIND.

Here's some background on the first volume of the Chris Lyon series...


PARTS UNKNOWN kicks off a series of thrillers featuring a writer named Chris Lyon.

The Lyon series is vintage pulp-noir, to my mind; stuff from my until-now private reserve. There have been tastings, to be sure: Chris crops up at the end of my 2010 novel, PRINT THE LEGEND. He appears a couple of times in my 2011 standalone, EL GAVILAN.

PARTS UKNOWN is the first sampling of the wider Lyon vineyard.

Some literary critics would have you believe authors have only a single book in them. They even have a term for this concept: “urtext.”

Urtext, in a nutshell, means, “the original text.” To put it another way, in a literary sense, it’s the “first text,” or axis around which a novelist’s fictional world rotates. Writers evolve; hopefully they gain skills over time.

But in the end, their core remains the same, urtext proponents would have you believe. The English Lit student in me grudgingly buys into the notion that if you look back at the first complete novel from any given writer’s hand, you’ll uncover the seeds of much, if not all that follows. Look at a mature writer’s juvenilia, and you will, in theory, see from where the seasoned stuff springs.

In 1989, I completed my first crime novel, PARTS UNKNOWN. The book was “inspired,” if that’s the right word, by a real series of mutilation murders committed in Ohio between the 1930 and perhaps extending into the 1970s or beyond. Eliot Ness, of UNTOUCHABLES' fame, was one of the initial investigators.

I’d tried my hand at writing literary novels throughout the 1980s. At age nine, I tried to write a mystery novel about a guy named Chris Lyon.

Sometime around 1990, I read and was riveted by James Ellroy’s THE BIG NOWHERE. It was that Ellroy novel that reminded me genre fiction could rise to the level of literature. The Ellroy novel directly inspired me to go back and try to write a genre novel of my own. A then newish nonfiction book about these old Cleveland crimes inspired the plot of my first crime novel.

The Cleveland Torso Slayer and I go back. Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents. Here and there, my grandmother used to tell stories about this killer who stalked Cleveland during the Depression. She would tell little six- or seven-year-old me tales about the family car breaking down in Cleveland during the Depression-era murder spree. In the most recurring version, scared and alone, she went off in search of my granddad who had, in turn, gone in search of a mechanic.

At some point, she met a stranger she remained convinced was the killer. My grandmother was unabashedly given to melodrama. She was an aspiring poetess and mystery fiction fan who bought me a subscription to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine when I was a kid. I still have every copy she got for me, though I never read a single issue of the magazine that I regarded, even at age 10, as neutered and tedious. Even then, the thirsty reader in me craved the harder stuff.

Consistent with that juvenile, jaundiced view, I regarded my grandmother’s tales of an Ohio-based decapitation murderer as nonsense.

Flash forward: A downbeat, lonely Christmas Eve in 1989. My widowed grandmother, it was clear to me, was displaying the early intimations of Alzheimer’s. In theory, I was spending time with my family.

But instead of hanging with seldom-seen cousins on that rather depressing Christmas Eve, I bolted. I drove to German Village to a still-standing Indy bookstore open until midnight for last-minute shoppers. I roamed the stacks.

At some point, determined to close the store down, I wandered into the True Crime section. On a whim, I cracked the spine on this newish book called TORSO by Steven Nickel.

In a few seconds, I realized it was an account of the very Cleveland crimes my grandmother had spent so many years talking about.

In various interviews given in 2007 and ’08 regarding my “debut” novel, HEAD GAMES, I went to some lengths to distinguish “first-published novel” from “first novel.”

Few are the writers whose first novel is the first published. Some of us—probably most of us—write many, many books before publication happens through some combination of luck or kismet.

The sad thing is, all those unpublished books that might have been “debut novels” can be pretty strong stuff all on their own.

In all key respects, PARTS UNKNOWN is my first novel. My urtext. When I completed it, I started shopping it around, cockily expecting to find myself a published author sometime in the early- to mid-1990s.

But Chris Lyon faced many of the challenges Hector Lassiter faced years later in getting published. The Lyon books, like the Lassiters, were regarded as something hard to categorize. Hector, in the end, had an advantage Chris didn’t: In the early 1990s, with the exception of books by Daniel Woodrell, Ellroy,  James Crumley and James Sallis, nobody was really publishing edgy or envelope-pushing crime novels. The market was saturated with police procedurals, cozies and long-running series short on steam and sparks.

Throughout the 1990s, I kept on stubbornly writing about my central character, Chris Lyon, a journalist-turned-crime novelist who tended to use himself and those around him as characters in his fiction.

I wrote, in fact, an entire series of interconnected books about the character. I kept on writing about Chris and his world because I believed in them. I still believe in Chris Lyon.

Only in retrospect did I come to see he was also a premonition of the character I’m now best known for writing—that of Hector Lassiter.

Hector, in his world, is a screenwriter and crime novelist popularly known as, “the man who lives what he writes and writes what he lives.” Hector debuted in 2007 in HEAD GAMES, an Edgar- and Anthony-award finalist for best “first” novel.

There is a lot of overlap between the Lyon and Lassiter series. I shamelessly plundered the urtext of the Lyon books to populate the Lassiter novels, lifting whole characters and moving them into Lassiter’s mythology.

I’ve resisted the urge to greatly revise the Lyon novels for eBook publication. When I wrote them, they were contemporary crime novels. Now they pretty much read as early 1990 historical novels. Cell phones and the Internet were just coming into their own and actually constitute plot points in the first two or three novels.

The novels stand as the pieces I would have started publishing in 1992, or thereabouts, if the fates allowed. If you choose to take the ride, as a side note, you’ll see where nearly everything of Hector Lassiter’s world and attitude springs from—that pesky urtext thing, again.

So that’s the one significant thing I have chosen to do in prepping these books for publication: Rather than revising out some of the things that link the Lyon/Lassiter series, I’ve ramped them up, played to them. The two series entwine as the saga unfolds. At some point, a torch is passed.

In fact, that blending of Chris and Hector’s worlds carries on through the eBook extras in this first Chris Lyon thriller.

Along with PARTS UNKNOWN, in the new eBook you’ll find previews of the next Lyon novel, CARNIVAL NOIR, which introduces Salome (who also briefly appears in EL GAVILAN), the key woman in Chris Lyon’s life.

PARTS UNKNOWN, the eBook, also contains a preview of the Hector Lassiter novel, ROLL THE CREDITS, which features an appearance by Jimmy Hanrahan, a key player in PARTS UNKNOWN and already established as a longtime crony of Hector Lassiter’s (Jimmy, like Chris, crops up in PRINT THE LEGEND, AKA: Lassiter #3; he will return in the forthcoming Lassiter novel, THE RUNNING KIND). Like some other characters already in print, Hanrahan was first created for my partly Cleveland-set, first crime novel featuring Chris Lyon.

As a last bonus, there is also an interview with James Jessen Badal, author of the two definitive nonfiction books on the Cleveland Torso slayings. That interview was conducted several years after my novel about the Cleveland crimes was written, and so does not have bearing on my book’s plot or content. The interview does, however, give some deep insight into the actual Ohio crimes, as well as the most likely suspect to have committed the murders.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Between Nov. 26-30, the Chris Lyon series of eBooks is being offered for free download for Kindle. That's several volumes of literary thrillers that intersect with my Edgar-/Anthony-nominated Hector Lassiter series, including several key crossover characters. The first of the books, PARTS UNKNOWN, actually ties directly to the next Hector Lassiter novel to be released in December, THE RUNNING KIND.

Here's some background on the second volume of the Chris Lyon series...


CARNIVAL NOIR follows right off the end of PARTS UNKNOWN, the novel that introduced Chris Lyon (though, to be fair, Chris had cameos in the Hector Lassiter novel PRINT THE LEGEND and my standalone thriller regarding illegal immigration and its impact on an Ohio town, EL GAVILAN).

PARTS UNKNOWN, like the Lassiter novels, is an historically inflected crime novel/thriller based on the Cleveland torso slayings—aka, the crimes of the so-called "Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run."

The second of the Lyon thrillers spins on historical crimes to varying degrees, but it moves in a very different direction from its predecessor in many key respects.

Consistent with one of the aims of my Lassiter novels, the books comprising the Chris Lyon series are calculated to be very different from the novel immediately preceding and the one following each entry. In other words, readers who sample the Lassiter or Lyon series shouldn't expect quite the same novel book-to-book.

In approaching CARNIVAL NOIR, I wanted to try for a blend of the feel of Ian Fleming's early James Bond novels and William Lindsay Gresham's classic circus noir, NIGHTMARE ALLEY.

Central to CARNIVAL NOIR, and to the remaining Lyon thrillers, is the female protagonist introduced in the opening pages of the new novel.

Salome Arnaud is not just the pivotal woman in Chris Lyon's life, but in a real sense, she's the axis around which many other aspects of my work spins.

I first wrote the character of Salome Arnaud in a never-to-see-the-light-of-day first novel finished in the late 1980s. A lot of my subsequent characters, themes and even some plot elements lurk in that early text, but only Chris and Salome survived into my published works.

In the manner of crime novelist/screenwriter Hector Lassiter, "the man who lives what he writes and writes what he lives," — Lassiter, whose life and writing career were shaped by the great love of his life, Brinke Devlin — Salome is the pivotal woman in Chris Lyon's life.

But she is much more: Salome is the hook upon which much of my own writing hinges.

Salome Arnaud, born of Gypsy lineage, raised in seedy traveling carnivals and cultivated to be a fortune teller by her "adoptive mother," hints at erotic and supernatural undertones infusing other Lyon and Lassiter novels including the HL novel THE GREAT PRETENDER; she heralds an occult aspect that will broaden and deepen as other of my novels appear.

If future Lyon novels are warranted, in time, Salome will center her own thriller. In the fourth of the Lyon novels, ANGELS OF DARKNESS, Salome bridges my two primary series in an unexpected way, profoundly binding the worlds of Chris Lyon and Hector Lassiter.

The following book trailer sets up the future direction of the Lyon series, and gives a clue or two about the looming nexus between the Lyon and Lassiter sagas.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Betimes Books, the good people and lovers of the word who are bringing you the entire, newly-repackaged Hector Lassiter series, is now offering a new Christmas short story collection you can read for free in a very slick PDF format right here.

(For lovers of paper, a special, trade paperback edition is also available for purchase from Amazon for a reasonable price.)

The Betimes collection consists of a range of short stories and short pieces from the Betimes Books stable of writers. Befitting the array of authors represented, the stories also run the gamut in mood and approach, but all are centered on the holiday. Each piece also contains a short, original introductory essay by its author.

My own contribution is lifted from PRINT THE LEGEND (soon to be newly available from Betimes in early 2015; here's a glimpse of the new cover).

My piece is structured as a believed-to-be Ernest Hemingway-penned lost chapter of his Paris memoir, A MOVEABLE FEAST. In the short piece, Hemingway and fellow up-and-coming author Hector Lassiter share a recalled, bittersweet Christmas morning at Le Select.

The moment detailed actually prefigures the opening of FOREVER'S JUST PRETEND, whose opening pages see our literary duo on the evening of the same Christmas Day detailed in the PTL excerpt. (Yes, I really plotted the whole nine-novel series that tightly.)

If the new story puts you in the mood for more Christmas Lassiter material, please keep an eye open for the December release of THE RUNNING KIND, which is set in and around Christmas 1950, in the wake of a historic, massive November snowstorm that actually buried the midwest, then triggered terrible flooding throughout the east (sound all-too-familiar, good people of Buffalo?)

But back to the Betimes Christmas collection: In addition to asking you to check out my own story, I'd also recommend the darkly comic "Slay Belles," by Hadley Colt, which takes some pretty dark shots at the publishing industry and some of its more recent turmoils. Here's an illustration that's being used to push that story and its gun-toting, strapping Santa...

Monday, November 24, 2014


(Note: Covers can make or break a book. The fact is, we do judge books by their covers. This is the fourth in a series of posts examining the strategies, concepts and creative process behind the repackaging of the Hector Lassiter series into bestselling, uniform editions for Betimes Books).

A first pass at the ROLL THE CREDITS
cover for Betimes Books by designer
J.T. Lindroos
ROLL THE CREDITS (Hector Lassiter #5) is a watershed novel in the series canon. For the first time since HEAD GAMES, Hector serves as narrator.

The novel also focuses on a storied period of Hector's life hinted at from the series' beginning—namely, the author/screenwriter's controversial activities during the Second World War.

Like Hemingway, Hector went to Europe as a middle-aged war correspondent. Once there, he morphed into a kind of guerilla resistance chief, actively scouting enemy positions, carrying weapons, and as Hemingway is believed to have done, actually engaging in some level of armed combat.

But ROLL THE CREDITS is also a much bigger tale, focusing on a Nazi filmmaker and the German Expressionist film movement's influence on American film noir.
Another early version of

World War II and cinema history: The challenge was to find a way to encapsulate these big themes in a cover image that would telegraph the novel awaiting readers.

Arguably, the novel was the most challenging to realize in terms of cover design.

I eventually hit on some vague notions of disparate images/character portraits that could be dropped into a sequence of film cells, maybe imposed over a bigger backdrop.

Having used the Eiffel Tower on the cover of the first Lassiter novel, the Paris-set ONE TRUE SENTENCE, it seemed right at the series' midpoint and return to Paris to once again put the tower on the cover but in a sinister new context.

We looked at several different image options, fairly quickly coming to an overall design concept.

Once we locked in the larger concept, designer J.T. Lindroos then focused on finding the right color scheme.

Befitting a novel written around the shadowy, high-contrast world of film noir, a predominantly black-and-white cover seemed a natural choice...

At last we settled on:


ONE TRUE SENTENCE: Paperback/eBook


TOROS & TORSOS: Paperback/eBook


ROLL THE CREDITS: Paperback/eBook