Print the Legend
Since I have never been a Hemingway fan, the plot of Print the Legend only mildly intrigued me. I was willing to be entertained, but I didn’t expect it to be one the best books I’d read in years. I may even go back and give Hemingway another try.
Although the story begins with a Hemingway scholar wanting to prove Mary Hemingway murdered her famous husband, it quickly becomes a multi-layered plot with moving timelines. In the hands of a less skilled writer, the short bursts of text told from different points of view could easily have doomed the story, but McDonald never loses his reader.
The book is labeled a crime novel, but that’s a terrible oversimplification. McDonald uses Hector Lassiter, an old friend of Hemingway’s, as a hero and a literary guide. Through Hector’s musings and actions, we are treated to an intimate view of Hemingway’s writings as well as his life. And as Lassiter tries to protect the woman he loves while pursuing a personal enemy, he evolves into a credible romantic figure. Like many writers, McDonald has a not-so-subtle agenda in Print the Legend, but he can be forgiven, since his characters are so well drawn and he brings us along successfully until almost the very end.
There is one thing that I did not like about the book: its menacing cover. It misrepresents what is inside. Not being familiar with the author, I would never have selected to read this book based on the cover art. This book will appeal to readers who read outside the crime genre.