Named to more than a dozen Year's Best lists!
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PRINT THE LEGEND
The eighth novel in the Edgar®-nominated Hector Lassiter series
"Provocative...McDonald creates a fast-paced dramareplete with shifting motives and personal interests on the part of all the major playersabout the lore of one of America's greatest novelists."
"Ingeniously plotted and executed, Print the Legend is an epic masterpiece from Craig McDonald. Beginning to end, I was riveted by this story of character, history and intrigue."
THE HEMINGWAY REVIEW
Books for Grownups April 2010 selection
By the Editors of Publishers Weekly and AARP, The Magazine
Historical Novels Society Editor's Choice Selection
Read more praise here.
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It was the shot heard 'round the world: On July 2, 1961, Ernest Hemingway died from a shotgun blast to the head.
It's 1965: two men have come to Idaho to confront the widow Hemingwaymen who have doubts about the true circumstances of Hemingway's death. One is crime novelist Hector Lassiter, the oldest and best of Hem's friends...the last man standing of the Lost Generation. Hector has heard intimations of some surviving Hemingway manuscripts: a "lost" chapter of A Moveable Feast and a full-length manuscript written by a deluded Hemingway that Hector fears might compromise or harm his own reputation. What Hector finds are pieces of his own, long-ago stolen writings, now in danger of being foisted upon an unsuspecting public as Ernest Hemingway's work.
The other man is scholar Richard Paulson, a man with a dark agenda who sets out to prove that Mary Hemingway murdered Papa. Paulson and his young, pregnant wife Hannah, herself an aspiring writer, travel to Idaho to interview Mrs. Hemingway who believes Paulson has come to write her hagiography.
As Hector digs into the mystery of his and Hemingway's lost writings, he uncovers an audacious, decades-long conspiracy tied to J. Edgar Hoover's FBI.
Print the Legend is a literary thriller about Hemingway's death and the patina that perceived suicide lends the author's legend...an exploration of the sinister shadow play and co-dependence that binds authors and their academics...a novel that could forever change how readers regard the death of Ernest Hemingway. When legend becomes fact, print the legend.
Read an excerpt here
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Betimes Books trade paperback, May 2015: ISBN-13: 978-0992967475
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PRAISE FOR PRINT THE LEGEND
Print the Legend was chosen for more than one dozen Year's Best Lists!
"A novelist who has a main character first use[d] The Hemingway Review as a doorstop and later set another issue on fire and fling it out a window probably isn't holding his breath waiting for a favorable review of his book in that particular publication. But Craig McDonald's Print the Legend (it's title taken from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the 1962 Western directed by John Ford) deserves the attention of Hemingway aficionados... McDonald tosses off throw-away allusions and inside jokes with apparent effortlessness... McDonald is a writer's writer, so the book is also, improbably but effectively, a meditation on the art of writing fiction."
—THE HEMINGWAY REVIEW
"The competition for the future of crime fiction is fierce, as it should be, but don't take your eyes off Craig McDonald. He's wily, talented andrarest of the rarea true original. He writes melancholy poetry that actually has melancholy poets wandering around, but don't turn your backs on them, either. I am always eager to see what he's going to do next."
"What critics might call eclectic, and Eastern folks quirky, we Southerners call cussednessand it's the cornerstone of the American genius. As in: 'There's a right way, a wrong way, and my way.' You want to see how that looks on the page, pick up any of Craig McDonald's novels. He's built him a nice little shack out there way off all the reg'lar roads, and he's brewing some fine, heady stuff. Leave your money under the rock and come back in an hour."
"Print the Legend is a landmark book. Lassiter for me is the Flashman/Zelig of the new era, but with a ferocious literary knowledge that is worn so lightly. A book beyond genre, stunning."
"With each of his Hector Lassiter novels, Craig McDonald has stretched his canvas wider and unfurled tales of increasingly greater resonance. With Print the Legend, his triumphant third novel in the series, McDonald cunningly blends high, low and pulp American culture at the mid-century. With a James Ellroy-like scope and vision of national history, McDonald takes on governmental conspiracy, Hemingway hagiography, the under-history of the FBI, the Death of the Author (literal and figurative) and the tantalizing, destructive mythologization of the Writer's Life. While the scale is immense, McDonald's hand is deft, and we never forget that, at its center, this is a human story, complex and bruising and deeply felt. As big as the scope, we are never far from the novel's true, pulsing center: the sumptuously etched characters of the widow Mary Hemingway, aspiring writer Hannah Paulson and our beloved Hector himself."
"Edgar-finalist McDonald raises a little discussed theory about Ernest Hemingway's suicide in 1961that the writer's last wife, Mary, killed her husband as an act of mercyin his provocative third Hector Lassiter mystery (after 2008's Toros & Torsos). Set in Sun Valley, Idaho, at a conference of "Papa" academics in 1965, the plot zeroes in on three men who have come to the conference with their own pieces of unfinished business to discuss with Mary. One is crime novelist Hector Lassiter, Hem's old friend, who's heard rumors of the discovery of 'lost writings.' Another is Richard Paulson, a Hemingway scholar who wants to set the record straight on the suicide. Finally, there's Donovan Creedy, an old FBI man who's dogging the case for his own, dark reasons. McDonald creates a fast-paced dramareplete with shifting motives and personal interests on the part of all the major playersabout the lore of one of America's greatest novelists."
"Four years after the death of Ernest Hemingway, raffish crime novelist, Hollywood script doctor, ladies' man, and Hemingway confidant Hector Lassiter is in Sun Valley, Idaho, to address a Hemingway conference. He's also there to assist Papa's widow, Mary, in preparing Papa's unpublished work for publication. Hector is also feeling his years, and, as Hemingway before him, he's worried about his 'long game,' his own literary legacy. But he quickly realizes that he's being followed by several different men.
One of them is Donovan Creedy, an FBI agent who reports directly to J. Edgar Hoover. Creedy seems to have gone fully around the bend; he's determined to destroy Papa's legacy and kill Hector. Legacy be damned! Hector must save 'his craft.' McDonald began his Lassiter series with Head Games (2007), a good-natured romp. Toros & Torsos (2008) was richer and darker. Print the Legend is darker still. Literary criticism and professors repeatedly get jabbed, but McDonald saves his knockout punch for Hoover, whose harassment of writers such as Hemingway and Steinbeck continued for decades."
—THOMAS GAUGHAN, BOOKLIST
"Hemingway's oldest and closest friend, tough crime novelist Hector Lassiter, is full of misgivings as he travels to Papa's Idaho ranch. Rumors abound that among the manuscripts Hemingway's fourth wife Mary is guarding may be things that should not see the light of day. Mary has decided that she should be the subject of a biography, and to pen it she's chosen Richard Paulson, an alcoholic professor with a beautiful and very pregnant wife. But Paulson aims to prove that Mary murdered Hemingway. He has help from a sleazy author, Donovan Creedy, a jealous wannabe who's been on Hemingway's case since his early days in Paris and now works for the FBI and the CIA. Racist, paranoid J. Edgar Hoover, who hounded every artist in the country, recruited Creedy years ago to spy on Hemingway. He's still digging up dirt and is not above giving Paulson LSD to spike Mary's drink. Lassiter carefully soothes hard-drinking Mary, reluctantly falls for Hannah Paulson despite her advanced pregnancy and finds himself in mortal jeopardy from both Creedy and an unidentified man who's stalking Hannah. Papa's failing health may indeed have led to suicide, but Lassiter must bring all his formidable talents to bear if he's to flummox Hoover and protect Hemingway's legacy. Hector's third case is another intriguing and convincing mix of history and hardboiled mystery."
"I had a great deal of difficulty trying to review McDonald's last novel, Toros & Torsos, because of its scope, depth, style, and complex plot. Right up front, I'll tell you: the man hasn't missed a step in this third episode of the life and times of Hector Lassiter. For those who just want action and heroes and villains, you won't go wrong with this book. But you'd be cheating yourself if you didn't look even just a little deeper. There's a rich, liquid quality to this book, in characterization and in plot, that leaves me thirsting for more. Here again he has seamlessly blended fact and fiction until my head was in a whirl. I kept one hand on the book and one hand on Google while I was reading. What really happened on that July morning in Idaho? The book ends with a delicious mixture of resolution and ambiguity. While studying the ripple effect of Hemingway's life and death, McDonald has created his own ripple effect. Long may he wave."
—COREY WILDE, THE DROWNING MACHINE (Read the full review here)
"One thing readers have to love about McDonald's books is that every one of them is a surprise. Readers just have no way of knowing where McDonald is going to take them until they have turned the very last page. And Print the Legend is no exception. What on the surface is another fictional account of Hemingway's delusional final days and his power hungry fourth wife Mary, is also an accurate account of the extreme lengths J. Edgar Hoover went to while compiling dossiers on American writers. But more than either of these stories, Print the Legend is a highly involved book with twisted plot lines about what extremes people are willing to go to in order to get the big scoop on our celebrities, to advance their own careers without regard to the reputations left sullied in their path and the public's pathological desire to know even the most sordid details of someone's life. It's a tricky feat for a writer to use real people and events and weave a plausible work of fiction around them. With Print the Legend, McDonald is quite successful.
—CARYN ST. CLAIR, BESTSELLERSWORLD.COM
"McDonald is a superb writer and well on his way to the top of a very competitive writing world. The Hector Lassiter series (all three books) are a must read. For those interested in good, smart writing, ditto. For those interested in a wild ride that transverses time and continents, ditto again. And for those looking for something that will not only enlighten, but will provide some genuine background of what government can (and often will) do to those it fears, Print the Legend, as quoted by best selling author Michael Connelly (on the cover), is indeed "an epic masterpiece."
—CHARLIE STELLA, author of JOHNNY PORNO (Read the full review here)
"Youwhoever you arereally ought to read Craig McDonald's latest, Print the Legend. This ain't your momma's cozy nor your daddy's pulp tale. It's more Hemingwayesque than Chandleresque. For the price of one book, you get scandal, history, mystery, pulp, noir, thriller, intrigue, literature, action, and romance. The female characters in this book are strong AND realistic. No mean feat, that! The prose is legit, the plot intricate, the characters fully developed. No hack this McDonald guy. And this book will give you a reason not to be ashamed of reading genre...The book goes well beyond labels and categories...This could easily turn out to be the best book you'll read in 2010."
—NAOMI JOHNSON (Read the full review here)
"Print the Legend is the third novel by Craig McDonald featuring Hector Lassiter, the man who lives what he writes and writes what he lives. And it's a full-on tour de force. Not many authors would dare to write a missing chapter from Hem's A Moveable Feast. Fewer would pull it off as McDonald does here. He then follows up with a beautifully structured section jumping between the POVs of his five major characters. Late in the book there's an extended description of let's say physical courage that Papa himself would approve of. Me, I went pale just reading it.Print the Legend moves with the intensity of a fever dream, driven by Hec's zeal for life."
—VINCE KEENAN (Read the full review here)
"One of the best books I'd read in years. Although the story begins with a Hemingway scholar wanting to prove Mary Hemingway murdered her famous husband, it quickly becomes a multi-layered plot with moving timelines. The book is labeled a crime novel, but that's a terrible oversimplification. McDonald uses Hector Lassiter, an old friend of Hemingway's, as a hero and a literary guide. Through Hector's musings and actions, we are treated to an intimate view of Hemingway's writings as well as his life. And as Lassiter tries to protect the woman he loves while pursing a personal enemy, he evolves into a credible romantic figure. This book will appeal to readers who read outside the crime genre."
—VERONIKA PELKA, HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY (Editor's Choice Selection)
"A stellar novel. Here McDonald builds his mystery around the death of Ernest Hemingway. Did Hemingway really kill himself, or was he, perhaps, a murder victim? Did he leave a viable literary legacy? Print the Legend is almost as atmospheric and skillfully executed as the works of Papa Hemingway himself."
—MYSTERY LOVERS REVIEW
"Once again, Craig McDonald covers some tricky territory... But point is, McDonald once again pulls it off. Because Legend is much more than mere David Lodge-noir. Here we're on the cusp between modernism and post-modernism, between Hemingway or the pulp-literary fiction of McDonald's protagonist, Hector Lassiter, and something about to appear on the horizon, whether in the guise of feminism or metafiction... It still packs a punch and puts one in mind of the Gramsci quote, something along the lines of 'the old world is dead and the new world has yet to be born.' The last section of Legend is every bit as intense as anything in Toros. I like McDonald's ambivalent approach to Hemingway, and it's impressive that he can get so much mileage out of the great man, using him as a launch pad to examine the culture and particular epochs. And, as I've mentioned before, McDonald is one of the few writers who can move comfortably within a post-Ellroy framework of historical crime fiction, prompting at least this reader to go back to some of his sources. Always interesting and, in the end, engaging, I'll be interested in where he goes once his Hemingway period has been exhausted."
"Print the Legend is the change-up in his repertoire and continues McDonald's study of history, literature and masculinity through the eyes and against the backdrop of his central character. But Lassiter is evolving under the steady hand of his creator, adding layers of dimension, contradiction and depth with each book. Print the Legend also expands the story, stepping, for the first time, outside Hector's point of view and into the supporting cast...This broadening of the canvas serves to deepen the reader's appreciation of the earlier novels and certainly of those yet to come. McDonald baits his books with lurid subject matter taken from the shadows of recent history, weaving together disparate strands of the Twentieth Century into a singular narrative unfolding to the cadence and tune of a master storyteller."
—BARNES & NOBLE'S RANSOM NOTES (Read the full review here)
"Craig McDonald has really come into his own with this book. This is an intelligent, rip-roaring yarn that will appeal to fans of Loren Estleman and James Carlos Blake. My highest recommendation."
—PATRICK MILLIKIN, THE POISONED PEN
"McDonald is one of those writers like Megan Abbott and Eddie Mueller, who use their knowledge of crime fiction and its history to create great books of their own. His latest book puts Lassiter in his friend Ernest Hemingway's home, three years after his "suicide," and looking into two missing writingsone Papa's, the other his own. McDonald builds tension through the characters as all move in on one another, each with more than one agenda. He also takes an honest look at who a writer is and what their place and duty to history are, creating what could be the most unique thriller of the year."
—SCOTT MONTGOMERY, BOOKPEOPLE (Read the full review here)
"Considering that it revolves around Ernest Hemingway's 1961 suicide by shotgun, I suppose it would be indelicate of me to say that Craig McDonald's Print the Legend blew me away, but in the noir spirit of the book I'll say it anyway. Things get wild and wooly quickly, McDonald effortlessly spooning Hemingway fact and legend into a mix that includes booze, stolen and forged manuscripts, LSD, gunplay and murderthe most shocking scene of all occurring in our very own Ann Arbor. The academic world is novel territory for noir fiction, but McDonald makes it his own with truly impressive originality and ingenuity. McDonald carves out his own patch of the neo-noir landscape in Print the Legend, and, like Hemingway himself, does it with breathtaking brio."
—RADIO FREE UBU (Read the full review here)
"This series is unlike any other in the annals of American writing. At its core, it is a crime novel. And from there it pushes and pulls and challenges the idea that a crime novel has to fit in a nice little compartment, limit its language, and minimize its character development. Print the Legend explodes out in every direction, leaving the reader breathless and stunned."
—JEN'S BOOK THOUGHTS (Read the full review here)
"McDonald skillfully and ingeniously mixes fact with fiction...McDonald's background as a journalist and crime fiction critic helps him to piece together an intriguing literary thriller."
—M. SCHLECHT, MYSTERY SCENE
"The problem when the great and famous die is that the public expects them to die with style, not as the victims of failing health, depression and a large bore shotgun discharged to the head. Craig McDonald applies this principle to the suicide of Ernest Hemingway in 1961 and comes up with an ingeniously plotted exploration of what really might have happened to Papa... A fast-paced and entertaining read. McDonald's first novel, Head Games, was shortlisted for the Edgar, Anthony, Crimespree and Gumshoe awards for best first novel. Print the Legend continues his development as a talented mystery writer. An interesting recent history setting and one of America's greatest novelists provide the grist for McDonald's mill and he grinds it fine, very fine."
—W.J.H. REED, I LOVE A MYSTERY
"If you love Ernest Hemingway's writing (as I do), and if you want to read a book that powerfully evokes J. Edgar Hoover's fascist FBI, read this book. This is a great story about the vultures who hovered around Ernest Hemingway after his death. I recommend this book, knowing I am hardly the first to do so."
"Print the Legend, is engaging and fast paced. It has intrigue and action. The characters are full and resonant. With each successive release Craig McDonald continues to get better and further cements his reputation as THE writer to watch. I don't know where the series is heading but I sure am enjoying the journey and can't wait to find out."
"A sharply conceived conspiracy thriller driven by a bewildering array of secretsstate, literary and personal. McDonald's dense and erudite prose, real-world dialogue, eerily compelling plot and keenly realized players all combine to empower his sobering homily: 'When legend becomes fact, print the legend.'"
—JOHN SULLIVAN, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
"McDonald has taken historic figures and events, weaving them brilliantly into Lassiter's fictional world. The blending of fact and fiction is seamless, so much so the reader will find him/herself drawn to the history books, driven to know more. This series is unlike any other. At its core it is a crime novel. Regardless of whether you've read any of McDonald's work before this, make sure you add Print the Legend to your must-read list immediately."
"McDonald builds his thriller with intensity and precision, introducing concepts long-buried in the political past and the conflicts of assorted characters on a collision course with history. The result is dynamic, a novel filled with shocks and revelations, the tragic arc of genius cannibalized by bottom-feeders and fear-mongers, a brilliant, riveting read where the truth is sometimes better left to the imagination: 'When legend becomes fact, print the legend.'"
LUAN GAINES, CURLED UP WITH A GOOD BOOK (read the full review)
"If you can name for me a crime series as wildly different book-to-book than Craig McDonald's Hector Lassiter saga, I'll eat my fucking hat sans hot sauce. Head Games was a violent, whiskey-soaked road trip with a severed head in the trunk. Toros & Torsos was a serial killer book that spanned decades and broke your heart. Now with Print the Legend McDonald has given us a spy thriller where the stakes are nothing less than the fate of the Great American Novel itself. Like all McDonald's work this is a crime novel first, historical novel second."
NERD OF NOIR (read the full review)
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Craig reads from the opening of Print the Legend. (Recorded in Lyon, France, 2011)
French video review of Print the Legend by Jean Casel.
Downloadable mp3 interview from Writers Talk.
The Columbus Dispatch features Craig and Print the Legend.
A radio interview conducted by WYSO's Vick McKunas.
Craig speaks with Mysterious Writers.
Video interview by Keith Rawson Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
Doug Moe interviews Craig regarding Print the Legend for the Wisconsin State Journal.
A brand new, Print the Legend interview conducted by John Kenyon.
A two-part interview with Craig at Jen's Book Thoughts: Part I & Part II.
Craig is interviewed at Signs and Wonders.
A podcast interview regarding Print the Legend conducted by Ben LeRoy.
The story behind the story of Print the Legend at the Rap Sheet.
Brian Lindenmuth interviews Craig at Spinetingler.
John Kenyon interviews Craig at Things I'd Rather Be Doing.
Jedidiah Ayres interviews Craig at Hardboiled Wonderland.
Crime novelist Sandra Ruttan interviews Craig about Print the Legend for the Baltimore Examiner.
Craig recently put Print the Legend through Marshal Zeringue's popular PAGE 69 TEST which examines page 69 of a novel to see how representative that page is of the rest of the book. Read the results here.
Craig discusses recent readings at Writer's Read.
Craig considers Print the Legend film casting at "My Book, the Movie."
A Print the Legend essay at Lesa's Book Critiques
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Italian translation coming from Giunti
French translation coming from Belfond
Russian translation coming from Ripol Classic