Only the last novel, still to come, should be read, well, last.
Also, on their first pass through publication, editors and publishers cherry-picked the series, publishing the first four out of my own intended, loose order, further confusing matters.
A couple of years ago, Betimes Books got rights to the entire Lassiter saga, and began publishing the old and new novels in something as close to chronological form as is feasible. (Tough to do perfectly, given some of the novels sometimes jump decades in unfolding their stories.)
In that spirit, and in sincere gratitude for your holiday gift-giving support, a very short description of the Lassiter novels in new, intended publication sequence follows:
(One caution and an effort to mitigate riled Amazon reviewers who might get something they don't expect: The series is written for adults who have urges and weaknesses of their own. Some bad language occurs...people couple. These are literary thrillers, or crime novels, if you like, but decidedly not cozies or even mysteries, per se. Historical figures come and go throughout. Most of the novels turn on real crimes and events. Character drives plot. End of caution.)
ONE TRUE SENTENCE: This is Hector at ground zero; a novel about how the man became the author/screenwriter we follow through the other books. Set in Paris, in 1924, the novel is a love-letter to the City of Lights and attempt to transform Ernest Hemingway's A MOVEABLE FEAST into a crime novel. Hemingway appears throughout, along with other expatriate icons of the era.
FOREVER'S JUST PRETEND: A love story, and the only direct sequel in the series and so, practically speaking, the novel to read after OTS. This one takes Hector to Key West, coming right off the end of ONE TRUE SENTENCE. Along with that novel, FOREVER effectively completes Hector's apprenticeship, closing out his origin story, so to speak. This is the one novel in the series that contains no historical figures, though it is based on two historic crimes.
TOROS & TORSOS: If you're going to sample one novel and decide on others, I'd point you to this one. It's the Lassiter novel that looms largest and globe-trots with the most audacity. This one is based on a series of true-life, bizarre, art-inspired crimes, including the Black Dahlia murder. Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles are supporting players. If I truly have a favorite among my novels, this is probably it.
THE GREAT PRETENDER: Orson Welles returns, and we follow him through the bizarre triumph of "The War of the Worlds" panic broadcast and on into the filming of the noir classic, THE THIRD MAN. It's a nice companion piece for TOROS, and sets the groundwork for Orson's final appearance in HEAD GAMES.
ROLL THE CREDITS: Along with TOROS, one of the big Lassiter novels. This one's set during World War II, largely in occupied Paris, but eventually moving on to post-war Hollywood, weaving in and around the events of the previous two novels but it also stands very much alone and explores the dark origins of film noir.
THE RUNNING KIND: With this entry, we enter the 1950s. Television is ascendant, the mob under fire from politicians and J. Edgar Hoover is trying to explain how he somehow missed the existence of the Mafia. A road novel, a love story... A cross-country chase through the snowy midwest between Thanksgiving and the New Year, and a portrait of a time when authors lived in fear TV would murder the publishing industry. (Always something...)
HEAD GAMES: In this reading sequence, the seventh novel, but originally the first and where it all started with the Lassiter series. Set in the late 1950s, Hector Lassiter inherits the lost skull of Pancho Villa, complete with treasure map, and things go crazy from there. The novel is coming in graphic novel format sometime in 2017.
PRINT THE LEGEND: The secret history of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover's war on writers, and, particularly, on Ernest Hemingway. Along with ONE TRUE SENTENCE and TOROS & TORSOS, this one completes a kind of Papa-trilogy within the larger series.
DEATH IN THE FACE: Newly released and the penultimate novel in the series, this one features James Bond creator Ian Fleming and gives the secret history behind several Bond novels and films, including FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. A good choice not just for Lassiter readers, but for Ian Fleming and James Bond fans, as well.
With that, a wish for a safe and happy holiday season for you and yours!
DEATH IN THE FACE