Head Games by Craig McDonald

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2008 Edgar® Nominee for Best First Novel

2008 Anthony Award Finalist

2008 Gumshoe Award nominee for Best First Novel

Head Games shortlisted for 2008 CrimeSpree Magazine award for Best First Novel

Head Games launches a critically-acclaimed series of novels about pulp novelist, screenwriter and adventurer Hector Lassiter, "the man who lives what he writes and writes what he lives."

Head Games is equal parts road novel, caper and historical fiction—a black comedy and wistful ballad of lost America rooted in borderland myth and history. Head Games races across 1957-1970 America from the cantinas of old Mexico to the Venice, California set of Orson Welles' noir classic Touch of Evil, to the sanctum sanctorum of Yale's infamous Skull and Bones Society. It introduces Hector Lassiter, the hero of this internationally acclaimed historical literary thriller series.

"Reading Craig McDonald's Head Games was like reliving those wonderful and exciting, tequila-fired weekend border-town tours of my youth in the '50's. A different character, vivid and lively, waiting around every new corner of the artfully twisted plot. The time and place are captured perfectly, and story never falters as it dashes to the surprising ending. It made me homesick for El Paso the way it was."—JAMES CRUMLEY, author of The Last Good Kiss

"Head Games is terrific, a real discovery, informed by—but never weighed down by—Craig McDonald's intimate knowledge of pulp fiction, politics, history, literature, film noir and all manner of frontiers. A truly original debut that leaves one eager to see what this writer will do next."—LAURA LIPPMAN, author of What the Dead Know

"Few writers can blend a contemporary feel with what drew us to old-style pulp and original paperbacks: that momentum, that craziness, the thrill of the downhill slide and crash. Head Games is smart, it's funny, and it moves like a roach when the lights go on—what's not to love?"—JAMES SALLIS, author of Drive

"Moves like a bullet, like a trajectory of magnificent artistry and line-on-line of almost casual, throwaway description. The beautiful, understated humor running like a sad song all through the whole novel...I'm beyond impressed."—KEN BRUEN, author of American Skin

"This slick caper novel touches chords of myth, history, loss and redemption just enough so you can hear echoes faintly under the gunfire."—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"Craig McDonald, a genuine expert on the history of crime fiction, gives free rein to all his obsessions in a debut novel that's a berserk 1957-based caper running roughshod through the politics and pop culture of the latter half of the 20th century. Strap in, hold on, enjoy the ride."—EDDIE MULLER, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

"Crime-fiction fans looking for an original voice should check out this exceptional debut, which blends Jack Kerouac's picaresque narrative style and James Ellroy's noir sensibilities with a heaping helping of urban legend, subtle social commentary and a trunkful of decapitated heads."—PAUL GOAT ALLEN, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

"Every now and then you run into a book that has it all: humor, a delightfully dark tone, a world-weary and larger-than-life protagonist and a wildly inventive storyline. Craig McDonald's Head Games is such a novel. A darkly humorous story, using a cast of real-life mid-century luminaries: Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Webb (of Dragnet fame) and a laconic Yale frat boy who goes by the name "George W." A book with a premise as unorthodox as this could easily dissolve into farce, but McDonald skillfully avoids that trap, crafting a clever and only slightly over-the-top slaughter-fest worthy of James Ellroy or James Crumley."—BRUCE TIERNEY, BOOKPAGE (chosen as September 2007 "Mystery of the Month")

"An exuberantly over-the-top romp conflating real events with legends... This one is simply great fun!"—BOOKLIST

About Craig McDonald

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Edgar-finalist Craig McDonald is an award-winning journalist, editor and fiction writer. His short fiction has appeared in literary magazines, anthologies and several online crime fiction sites. His debut novel, Head Games, was selected as a 2008 Edgar nominee for Best First Novel by an American Author. It was also nominated for Anthony and Gumshoe awards and made several "year's best" lists. His other nonfiction books include Art in the Blood, a collection of interviews with twenty major crime authors that appeared in 2006. McDonald was also a contributor to the NYT's nonfiction bestseller, Secrets of the Code. He recently won national awards for his profiles of crime novelists James Crumley, Daniel Woodrell and James Sallis. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, and the International Association of Crime Writers.
Published November 15, 2013 by Night Town Books, LTD. 300 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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