Kirkus Reviews QR Code
HEAD GAMES by Craig McDonald

HEAD GAMES

By Craig McDonald

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-932557-42-8
Publisher: Bleak House

A turbulent tale of murder, conspiracy and political intrigue.

Pulp fiction and screenplay writer Hector Lassiter is being interviewed in a Mexican cantina by impressionable young Bud Fiske for a 1957 True magazine article when an old pal arrives with the rotting skull of Pancho Villa, a highly prized and dangerous keepsake. Hec and Bud escape with the head in a hail of gunfire that pushes them down a road filled with treachery, deceit and near-death experiences. They travel to California, where Hec’s old lover Marlene Dietrich, making a celebrated movie with Orson Welles, needs Hec’s help in setting the right tone. There Hec meets Marlene’s assistant Alicia, a beautiful young Mexican who becomes the latest in his long string of lovers and wives. Villa’s head is sought by many, from stone Mexican killers to the frat boys competing with Yale’s Skull and Bones Society, masterminded by George W’s grandfather Senator Prescott Bush. Hec, Bud and Alicia get a little help from the FBI because J. Edgar Hoover is furious with Bush, who’s using his CIA connections to find the skull. In the end, though, only their own skills can keep them alive.

The grisly carnage in McDonald’s Spillane-like fictional debut has its roots in a real historical question: Did the Bush family really help hide Pancho Villa’s head in the inner sanctum of Skull and Bones? Despite the intriguing premise, not for the faint-hearted.