Posts tagged ‘Ian Fleming’
May 18, 2017
Review by Marvin Minkler: @MarvinMinklerModernFirstEditions
“Quite alone, yet somehow quite happy, Hector drove on through the sweet-smelling autumn rain, back to his home and family.”
This one true sentence, from the ending of the newly finished novel, Death in the Face, by Craig McDonald, an Edgar and Anthony Awards Finalist, brought to a close my nine-novel journey through the mid-20th Century world, with Hector Lassiter, the man who “writes what he lives and lives what he writes.”
Death in the Face takes place in 1963 and finds Hector at 62 years of age. He is starting to feel that the modern world is passing him by and that he might be slowing down a step or two. He has lost some dear friends and lovers, and, at night, he is haunted by realistic dreams and visions of his life’s love, Brinke Devlin. Brinke’s tragic death still tears at him.
Hector is invited to come along with his old and slowly dying friend, British author, and former spy, Ian Fleming, to the land of the rising sun. Ian is finding late success with his bestselling James Bond series of novels, which have just begun to be made into movies, starring Sean Connery.
Long ago, just after World War II, Ian and Hector, who were intelligence agents at the time, had tried to get their hands on a deadly biological weapon, developed by the Japanese, that could spell doom for whatever country it was used on. While in Japan this time, Ian is determined to find it again, and Hector is along for the ride, with the hope of recovering some previously unknown writings by Brinke Devlin, which are also supposedly there.
As usual with a Hector Lassiter novel, there is plenty of action, deadly villains, a fetchingly beautiful spy, with her eye and gun on Hector, James Bond-type gadgets, intrigue, twists and turns, sexy romps, tragedy, loss, and many reflective moments where the sheer poetry of Craig McDonald’s writing stops the reader in their tracks. There are places where a passage is so moving that it must be read all over again.
I admit to feeling a bit sad about finishing my last Hector Lassiter novel. The books have taken me on a journey all the way from Paris in the 1920s, to Key West in the 30s, Germany and France during World War II, 1950s clashes with the Cleveland mob, assassins in the South-west, and Hollywood, Nashville, and finally Hawaii.
I have met historical characters that have come to life fully fleshed, due to the author’s genuine depiction and understanding of them. Ernest and Mary Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach, Orson Wells, Eliot Ness, Robert Shaw, Yukio Mishima, Mitsuharu Kaneko, Lester Dent, Rod Serling, and George W. and Prescott Bush, and many more.
Thanks, Craig McDonald, for these wonderfully entertaining and deeply felt novels. I feel Hector Lassiter is the best on-going character ever created in fiction. Truly the last man standing. There is not enough praise that I can give you for your mighty creation and your masterful writing.
Marvin Minkler, Modern First Editions, May 2017
The full Hector Lassiter Series is available to buy on Amazon here
February 29, 2016
An exceptional, in-depth, interview with Craig McDonald by Steven Powell, a researcher at the University of Liverpool, UK.
Steven Powell is the editor of Conversations with James Ellroy (2012) and 100 American Crime Writers(2012). He has written several articles for the British Politics Review, blogs about crime fiction at VenetianVase.co.uk, and co-organized the “James Ellroy: Visions of Noir” conference at the University of Liverpool. His most recent work is James Ellroy: Demon Dog of Crime Fiction (Palgrave Macmillan 2016).
“If you are not already initiated, I hope this interview will persuade you to start reading the Lassiter novels. They are compelling, thrilling and darkly humorous.
Lassiter is a brilliant creation…”
Craig McDonald is an author and journalist. He has written fourteen novels, including, to date, nine books in the award-winning Hector Lassiter series. I have kept up a correspondence with Craig these past few years as we are both avid readers of James Ellroy. I’m also a massive fan of the Lassiter novels, and when Craig agreed to be interviewed by me, he also kindly supplied an advance copy of the final novel in the Lassiter series, the forthcoming Three Chords and the Truth. If you are not already initiated, I hope this interview will persuade you to start reading the Lassiter novels. They are compelling, thrilling and darkly humorous. Lassiter is a brilliant creation– a crime writer who learned his trade with Ernest Hemingway and the Lost Generation in Paris in the 1920s. He is also a man who seems dangerously prone to violent intrigue, doomed love affairs…
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February 15, 2016
I loved traveling with author Hector Lassiter, his fellow friend Ian Fleming, and his devastating companion along the way, Haven Branch. Felt like I was right there with them on the planes and trains and in the restaurants, cafés and clubs. Combining writing, spying, and secret lives was perfectly executed and totally believable. Returning to Japan to claim his dead wife’s final writings, Hector is caught up in a conspiracy he can’t avoid. Once more the unlikely hero is called on to save the world, and by god, he’ll do it or die trying. He’s not quite a James Bond type, but he’s cut from a similar cloth. Smart, witty, resourceful and a lady’s man, even in his 60s, you have to admire his style. Great dialogue, good plot, and just enough neurotic angst to sound like a real author. Plenty of fast-paced action, dangerous villains, good whiskey, and humorous characters. I haven’t read the other Hector Lassiter tomes, but I think I’ll have to get started on them now. With Ian Fleming as his muse, Craig McDonald gives us more of the Bond flavor in this period novel without being a parody. Loved it, can’t believe now that I’ve found him, there’s only one more novel to come. But then, I’ve got all the previous ones to enjoy.
~Review by Sandy Penny, Founder, SweetMysteryBooks.com – Five Stars
December 21, 2015
Booklist Feature Article
She Reads: Holiday Wish Lists
Stover, Kaite Mediatore (author)
I’m not going to bore you with an annual report of my behavior—virtuous or villainous. Suffice to say I was a very good reader, and I’d like some more, please.
For my holiday reading, I hope I find these books under my tree stacked neatly in their own TBR pile. I resolve to read them all before I write you again next December. I am certain reading these books will make me a better person.
There is one novel I’ve been waiting for that I’ll devour immediately, the latest in Craig McDonald’s Hector Lassiter series, Death in the Face. Lassiter and Ian Fleming team up for one last international caper to “live what they write and write what they live.”And if you can deliver an audio version narrated by Tom Stechshulte, I’ll never ask for another thing again ever.”
Read the full article here
December 21, 2015
“Set in 1962, McDonald’s fine ninth Hector Lassiter novel (after Print the Legend) takes the 62-year-old writer and an old friend of his, 54-year-old Ian Fleming (the creator of James Bond), to Japan. Ostensibly, Fleming is to do research for an Asian-set 007 novel, and Lassiter is covering Fleming’s trip for Playboy magazine. In fact, the pair are on a mission to secure the secret plans made by the Japanese in WWII for a devastating biological weapon. Both men formerly performed intelligence duties, including an attempt, during Operation Flea, to recover the plans immediately after the war. McDonald pays frequent homage to Fleming and his novels, while Lassiter, like an aging James Bond, foils assassins and follows a trail that leads from Japan to Turkey; he even uses a Bond-like gadget to great effect. A brief coda sets the stage for the next and, unfortunately, last Lassiter novel, Three Chords and the Truth.”
Read the review in Publishers Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-9934331-0-8
December 14, 2015
• Death in the Face, by Craig McDonald (Betimes):
Those of us who inhale the Hector Lassiter series (starting with 2007’s Edgar-nominated Head Games) enjoyed a big year in 2014, so it was fair to expect that 2015 might be a bit on the quiet side. Happily, this was not the case, as McDonald released a new and unexpected entry in the series late in the year. Death in the Face finds Lassiter on assignment for Playboy magazine, shadowing Ian Fleming’s research trip to Japan while the latter scouts locations for his next James Bond adventure, You Only Live Twice. Lassiter and Fleming were fighting comrades working for their respective intelligence services during World War II, and we soon learn that this literary junket has a more serious dual purpose: to bring an end to a Japanese biological weapon, Operation Flea, that’s still very potent and capable of decimating English and American agriculture. Lassiter also has his private motive for coming back to Japan–he’s heard a rumor that there’s a lost manuscript written by his late and beloved wife, Brinke Devlin, whose ghost has been lurking throughout all of the Lassiter books. In this, the ninth outing featuring the writer “who lives what he writes and writes what he lives,” Lassiter hasn’t lost a step. Rubbing elbows not only with Fleming, but also with actors Sean Connery and Robert Shaw, and Japanese author-poet Yukio Mishima, Lassiter dodges bullets and explosions, and the set piece here involving a pool of crocodiles is alone worth the price of admission. McDonald’s Lassiter stories represent a sorely needed throwback to ultra-hard-boiled adventure tales, and while the series is winding down (we can expect only one more novel and a collection of short stories, both due in 2016), the entire series hangs together as a multi-volume biography of the greatest fictional pulp writer ever created.
As a side note, 2015 also saw the release of the Craig McDonald-curated Borderland Noir (Betimes), an anthology of crime stories featuring a roster of writers that included Ken Bruen, James Sallis, and the chronically underrated Manuel Ramos, among others. It’s a terrific addition to the location-themed collections we’ve seen published over the last few years.
Link to the review: Favorite Crime Fiction of 2015. Part III
November 24, 2015
- Something Wicked This Way Comes
Sean Connery, dressed in his immaculate gray Anthony Sinclair-tailored James Bond suit with pale blue shirt and black knit tie, nodded for another bira—a beer—and said to Hector in his juicy, Glaswegian Scots accent, “I’ve read your stuff, Mr. Lassiter. Much of what I’ve read I’ve quite loved. Let’s say I can pry little money out these fat producers’ pockets. If so, would you maybe option something to me? I have a novel or two of yours in mind. God knows I don’t want to end up type-cast as this silly character for life. Your characters are much closer to the ground than Mr. Fleming’s.”
Hector tapped bottles of Bomonti with the cinematic version of Ian’s James Bond and said, “By all means. Whenever and whatever you want, Sean. You should know up front, I have a ruthless maxim regarding any and all film options: my book, your movie. If your option money spends, I smile, shake hands, and get the hell out of your way. If the damned thing somehow miraculously comes out okay in the end, I’ll deliriously say so to the press and raise a glass in tribute. If it’s a dog, I maintain a respectful silence.”
Sean smiled and said, “Very good! I do so appreciate a fellow professional. We’re a dying breed.”
Hector had been a week in Istanbul—this now shabby, threadbare ghost of Constantinople, as he thought of it.
It seemed all dust, blast furnace winds, hucksters and dodgy religion to Hector.
He’d hobnobbed with the Bond film producers, done a little uncompensated and un-credited script doctoring just for the hell of it and for free drinks.
He’d also nearly lost Vannina Bello in the very early going after a man with a knife came at them as they were exiting a seafood place along the Bosporus during a sight-seeing blitz.
It hadn’t seemed at the time like anything remarkable—nothing tied to old unfinished business of one sort of another, nor to old enemies.
The attack hadn’t even struck Hector as being credibly tied to the Flea Bomb in any way.
No, it had been—or so Hector had decided in the moment—a simple case of random street crime. It was just dumb bad luck that it was they who had nearly become victims. Happenstance, Hector told himself, that was all.
But Vannina’s candid words in the wake of that attack cut close to bone: “I see now the journalists are maybe right about you and the collision between your life and the page, so to speak,” she said bitterly, her chin trembling in fear. “If this is how things always are for you, then I can see now why you’re still a bachelor…and a widower. This was all terrifying, yet you seem to take it almost in stride, even now. That leads me to believe it’s not an uncommon thing for you. Now I fear that maybe you even savor this sort of thing.”
It was an entirely sensible point of view, he had to confess that was so.
But, in the end, he soothed her into staying on with him, sharing his room and bed while waiting for an opportune moment to effect an introduction between Vannina and the Bond producers. He needed to do that much for her in recompense, he told himself.
But if things were somewhat rocky for Hector, they were far more tumultuous for the cast and crew of From Russia with Love.
November 8, 2015
Craig McDonald about his new novel:
DEATH IN THE FACE: THE YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE FACTOR
(Caution: Mild spoilers ahead for the James Bond novel and film, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE.)
In 1962, a gravely ill Ian Fleming went to Japan to research what would result in his penultimate James Bond novel, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE.
Typical of Fleming, he planned for himself a macabre itinerary he hoped would showcase the stranger sides of Japan that might in turn inform his novel. He went in the company of two journalists with Asian expertise (more on them later).
The resulting book is one of the darker, more doom-laden of the James Bond novels, almost gothic in atmosphere, and a world away from the resulting 1967 film adaptation which became the first Bond film to jettison the majority of its Fleming inspiration’s plot.”
Continue reading here
October 23, 2015
This latest in Craig McDonald’s Hector Lassiter series—Death in the Face–is perhaps his finest. It’s my fervent hope that this isn’t the last in this wonderful series!
Like all the previous books in this series, McDonald sheds light on some of the most important literary figures of the past near-century on a personal level via the Hector Lassiter character and his adventures and that alone is worth the price of admission. For instance, I’ve never been a fan of Ian Fleming’s writing, but after experiencing this version, I confess I’m reevaluating my opinion of him. But, more important and irrespective of my opinion of Fleming’s literary acumen, this is a wonderful look at the writer from albeit a fictionalized account, and, like all the other literary figures who grace the pages of the Lassiter novels, delivers to the reader a delightful perspective on their lives not to be found elsewhere.
That McDonald is able to affect my own bias against Fleming is a telling thing and attests to the level of writing he is able to command. A remarkable read, a remarkable author and a remarkable portrait of an interesting literary figure. Highly recommended.
DEATH IN THE FACE is available here
October 21, 2015
Craig McDonald about Yukio Mishima, one of the characters in his latest Hector Lassiter novel, Death in the Face:
“Yukio Mishima (born Kimitake Hiraoka) was a gifted novelist and one of Japan’s great literary figures. He was a true renaissance man who composed nearly three dozen novels, nearly as many books of essays, more than two dozen short story collections, plays, screenplays and who dabbled in acting.
He was considered a likely contender for the Nobel Prize for literature.
Mishima was increasingly appalled by Japan’s post-war Westernization and turned further and further toward martial arts studies and an embracement of Samurai codes of life and personal conduct. He practiced body-building and kendo, and, in 1968, he formed is own private militia.
His death came almost immediately upon completion of his novel, THE DECAY OF THE ANGEL, the final volume of his SEA OF FERTILITY tetralogy that many regard as Mishima’s masterwork.
Yukio Mishima shares a lunch with my fictional novelist, Hector Lassiter, in DEATH IN THE FACE, the next-to-last novel in the Lassiter series.
Lassiter is in Japan, dogging the steps of his fellow thriller writer Ian Fleming, who has come to gather materials for his James Bond novel YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE.”
Continue reading here: http://craigmcdonaldbooks.blogspot.fr/2015/10/death-in-face-strange-life-death-of.html
October 12, 2015
Watch the book trailer here:
January 9, 2015
Two final, never-before-seen Lassiter novels will appear in the second half of 2015.
First up, will be a novel featuring Hector and James Bond creator Ian Fleming in 1962 Japan, and, a bit later, in Istanbul, witnessing the filming of the classic Bond novel, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Japanese author Yukio Mishima will also have a part to play in all that.
Watch the trailer here: