Was the shotgun blast that ended Ernest Hemingway’s life on July 2, 1961, really self-inflicted, or was it murder?
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 (Toros & Torsos, 2008, etc.) is another intriguing and convincing mix of history and hardboiled mystery.