9 Mystery Novels and Series Featuring Ernest Hemingway

What a Character!

In a recent post, I touched briefly on Hemingway’s influence on crime fiction and shared three books whose plots are derived from a real-life unsolved Hemingway mystery. But Hemingway, whose life story often reads like fiction, has served another purpose for mystery novelists seeking inspiration: Many of them have decided to use the author himself as a character. The following titles, linked to their Booklist reviews, put Papa in pole position.

9 Mystery Novels and Series Featuring Ernest Hemingway


Adios Hemingway, by Leonardo Padura Fuentes

Celebrated Cuban mystery novelist Fuentes offers a fascinating mix of fact and fiction in this tale of a retired, Hemingway-obsessed Havana cop who’s asked to work the case when skeletal remains are unearthed on the writer’s Cuban estate.


The Bones of Paris, by Laurie R. King

Hemingway makes a cameo in King’s marvelously constructed tale of Jazz Age Paris, in which former FBI agent and dissolute PI Harris Stuyvesant (first seen in Touchstone, 2008) accepts a missing-persons job. Think Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, but with considerably less charming Lost Generation players.


The Crook Factory, by Dan Simmons

A fictionalized account of an actual counterespionage operation set up by Ernest Hemingway during World War II, this compelling novel has Hemingway assembling a team that includes a 12-year-old orphan, an American millionaire, a jai alai champion, a priest, fishermen, prostitutes, and more. An offbeat take on a little-known operation during the summer of 1942.


Deep Night, by Caroline Petit

A newly married Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn are among the vividly portrayed historical personages peppering this tale of a plucky protagonist, Leah Kolbe, recruited to spy during the Sino-Japanese War. (This is a sequel to The Fat Man’s Daughter, 2006.)


Hec Lassiter (series), by Craig McDonald

Ernest Hemingway casts a long shadow in this entertaining, time-shifting series as the best friend of crime writer Hec Lassiter. In Toros & Torsos (2008), Hec and Hem chase a surrealistic murderer from Key West to the front of the Spanish Civil War; in Print the Legend (2010), Hec protects Hem’s literary legacy four years after the latter’s suicide; in One True Sentence (2011), the pair infiltrate a nihilistic cult called the Nadaists in 1924 Paris.


Hemingway Deadlights, by Michael Atkinson

Atkinson’s first novel, which stars a sleuthing Hemingway, takes a page out of Hammett’s Maltese Falcon by having the author investigate the death of a drinking buddy found in Key West’s harbor, impaled by an antique harpoon; it’s 1956, and Hemingway is in serious decline. In his second Hemingway novel, Hemingway Cutthroat (2010), Atkinson turns back the clock to 1937 and the Spanish Civil War, playing Papa against type as he investigates the murder of a Spanish official and chases his own writing mojo.


Masquerade, by Walter Satterthwait

In this sequel to Escapade, 1920s Pinkerton agents Phil Beaumont and Jane Turner visit Paris to investigate the apparent double suicide of a publisher and his mistress. Various Lost Generation players make appearances, and Hemingway is played for laughs as a bumbling galoot who keeps barreling into the furniture.


The Mojito Coast, by Richard Helms

It’s 1958, and Miami PI Cormac Loame accepts a job that leads him to Cuba in search of a criminal’s missing 14-year-old daughter. The timing is poor: Che and Fidel have Batista on the run, the country is in turmoil, and Loame’s old allies are dead—except for one Ernest Hemingway.


Spy in a Little Black Dress, by Maxine Kenneth

You might want to suspend disbelief in this tale of CIA agent Jacqueline Bouvier, who, on assignment in Cuba in 1952, meets Fidel Castro (she tells him to grow a beard) and is rescued by Ernest Hemingway. A sequel to Paris to Die For (2011), this one has a little bit of everything, from crocodile pits to Frank Sinatra.

About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of six books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Phantom Tower (2018). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

2 Comments on "9 Mystery Novels and Series Featuring Ernest Hemingway"

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  1. kclark@mcfarlandlibrary.org' Katharine says:

    There was a great little mystery published a couple of years ago by Wisconsin writer Shaun Harris that featured Hemingway as well:
    https://amzn.to/2mYnlnx It was called THE HEMINGWAY THIEF. Would recommend!

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