Read: Head Games by Craig McDonald, 2007, 9781932557428.
McDonald's books have received a lot of praise so I tried one out. It was good.
57 year old crime novelist Lassiter is a friend of Hemingway, screws Marlene Dietrich, is pals with Hollywood types, drinks too much, has a dead wife and daughter, loves Mexico, served under Pershing in Mexico, served in WWI, lived in Europe, blah, blah, blah. He's a typical raconteur author of the twenties and Dark Mask.
Bud Fiske is writing a magazine profile of Lassiter in 1957. They are in a bar in Mexico when a guy comes in offering to sell Pancho Villa's head to Lassiter. Federales bust in, shots are fired, people are killed, Lassiter and Bud flee with Pancho's head. Many others are after the head including Skull and Bones Yalies (guided by Prescott Bush), Harvard types (opposed to the Yalies), Mexicans who revere Villa.
More shooting, more killing. A visit to Orson Welles and Marlene Dietrich in Los Angeles. More shooting. Fleeing with Mexican hot chick. More killing and shooting as Lassiter tries to sell the head to Bush. Lassiter in a tight spot with Yalies, FBI, CIA (courtesy of Yalies), Mexicans, etc.
Things happen and head is returned to Villa's favorite wife. Lassiter dies. Lassiter's body decapitated in 1970. Bud rescues head from Yalies, with assist from George W. Flees across the US into Mexico and followed by murderous "intelligence" agents. Lassiter's head slyly returned to Mexican hot chick. Bud still on the run.
1. Comparisons to Ellroy: reminiscent lines, time period, competing and backstabbing interests with corruption, LA setting.
2. Gratuitous tommy gun usage.
3. Ripping on poet Rod McKuen. Twice. Mark Kraushaar would like that.
4. Lassiter dislikes the pop psychology of a newspaper reviewer's work applied to a Lassiter novel. Lassiter hires a goon to crush reviewer's hands.
5. Multiple historical characters.
6. Thank you to Mark Singer in acknowledgements for Character Studies. I never finished reading Character Studies so I checked it out again. I then forgot why the hell I checked it out again.
7. Vicious Lassiter comments on Ayn rand's Atlas Shrugged. Hee, hee, hee.
8. Take your guesses on McDonald's own views on politics and war through Lassiter's views and criticisms on those topics.
9. Anachronisms I cannot recall.
EDIT 27My10: I got the date wrong, this is a 2007 not a 2009. It is also, according to NoveList, the first Lassiter book by McDonald.