Craig McDonald’s One True Sentence is another of his fascinating period pieces.
While living in Paris in 1924, mystery writer Hector Lassiter and his friend Ernest Hemingway investigate a series of murders. Someone is killing the editors of the city’s struggling little literary magazines. Lassiter sets out to find the murderer.
Along the way Lassiter falls in love. He learns about the characters’ unexpected back stories. He loses more than one of the people he tries to save. And he struggles against a hellish literary cult.
All this takes place in the context of the beautiful people who surrounded Gertrude Stein. McDonald fills the book with fictional references to famous people.
I like these books for their clear writing and interesting setting. For me, there’s no getting lost in the story. I can read straight through.
What fascinates me about these books is the characters’ hubris. They think they are geniuses waiting for the world to find them. And some are, I guess.
I often wonder what role luck plays in literary success. These people don’t credit luck at all. By and large, they see themselves as brilliant writers whose time is yet to come. Or at least they fool themselves into thinking that’s what they believe. Some already know they will fail.
I enjoy these books for their setting and characters.