My friend Phoef Sutton's episode of TERRIERS was singled out by The Futon Critic, their staff, and freelancers this week as one of the ten best of hours of television this season. The acclaim is well-deserved. TERRIERS will go down as one of the best PI shows ever on TV (along with ROCKFORD, HARRY O and THE OUTSIDER)… and Phoef's episode as one of the best of the best.
I must have hundreds of photos from the Mystery Bookstore, going back twenty years, but here are a few that I found lingering on my hard-drive tonight.
1. Me signing with a broken arm at the Mystery bookstore's booth at the Festival of Books.
2. Bob Levinson, manager Bobby McCue, Me, Ken Kuhlken, and Gar Haywood at a booksigning for HOLLYWOOD & CRIME.
3. Me finally getting to meet one of my favorite authors Garry Disher and discovering that he'd dedicated his book to me.
4. Michael Connelly, Martha Lawrence and me at a 2001 signing.
5. Me and Zoe Sharp signing together.
6. Me and Victor Gischler at a Festival of Books party.
7. Jerrilyn Farmer, my daughter Maddie, and me at a booksigning.
These photos don't begin to cover all the countless booksignings, readings and parties I've attended there…or all the times I just stopped in to browse for books. I remember visiting the store, back when it was in West Hollywood, and imagining what it would be like to have a book of mine on a shelf there some day. Sheldon MacArthur, who ran the store in the early days, recommended so many great books and authors to me that I probably never would have discovered on my own. He was incredibly supportive of my aspirations to be an author myself. Not only did I end up signing my first book there… but my brother signed his first one there, too. And so many of the close friendships that I have with other authors began inside that store. It's really hard for me to accept that it's closing.
Today, Los Angeles lost a great bookstore. Authors got an email today from Kirk Pasich and Pamela Woods, owners of the Mystery Bookstore, announcing that they are closing their store on January 31. It's like hearing that close friend has been diagnosed with a terminal, and incurable, illness.
We have very much enjoyed owning the Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles.
We've enjoyed your books and getting to know you, and the kindness and generosity of spirit you've shown us–as well as your visits and signings. Unfortunately, we, too, are going the way of too many independent bookstores. We simply cannot compete with the Amazons of the world and the impact of the economy. We love the bookstore and mysteries and the relationships we've formed with authors and publishers and agents and publicists. But, we do have retirement to think about (not in the near future!), and family and, well, all of those things that require money. So, it is with considerable sadness that we announce that The Mystery Bookstore, Los Angeles, will–after many years (and as apparently the last-standing bookstore in Westwood, other than UCLA's student store)–be closing. Our last day will be January 31, 2011.
This is very sad news… both for me as a mystery lover, a reader, and as an author. I am really going to miss it.
The new Showtime series EPISODES is amazing. I'm not talking about the premise, the writing, or the acting. No, what astonishes me is the digital matte work. The show takes place entirely in Los Angeles… with plenty of blue skies, palm trees, McMansions, and lots of driving through Beverly Hills and Malibu in convertibles. And yet, the show is shot entirely in London.
They pull it off thanks to the green screen magicians at Stargate Studios. There are a few shots where the digital compositing is obvious (in particular, a night-time, outdoor party in the Hollywood hills), but for the most part, the trick photography is entirely invisible and utterly convincing. I constantly found myself wondering "how the hell did they do that?"
But the really, really amazing thing is that it's cheaper to do all those elaborate effects shots than to just shoot the show here.
MR. MONK ON THE ROAD got a rave review today from the Gelati's Scoop blog. They said, in part:
This is probably the best Monk novel that Lee Goldberg has written by far, plain and simple, it's flat out awesome! […]Lee Goldberg has really taken the characters and fleshed them out more, gotten inside their heads, exposed their feelings and emotions on a level that hasn’t been done before, [giving] them a unique sense of self, where they stand with each other and the world, and a balance and symmetry that the characters have always craved but never had. This for me is the complete Mr. Monk novel: fun, tongue in cheek, over the top insanity mixed with equal parts mystery, action and an ending that ties everything up into a nice package.
Thanks so much, Giovanni!
I had nothing to do with HOT LIGHTS, COLD STEEL, but I can take credit for championing Doug for the ROYAL PAINS books and luring him into our evil cult of tie-in writers. It was the least I could do after all the medical advice he's given me over the years for my various scripts and all of my DIAGNOSIS MURDER and MONK books.
I've read the first few chapters of the ROYAL PAINS book and can report that he's perfectly captured the show. I'm looking forward to Doug joining me, my brother Tod, and William Rabkin for signings this summer to promote our various tie-ins (all for the same publisher and TV network).
With each new Monk novel that author Lee Goldberg gives us, plot becomes less and less important, and the characters and their interactions with one another become more important. Mr. Monk on the Road cannot boast of having an actual plot. The book is comprised of a series of vignettes that are loosely tied together through the device of the motor home and the improbable road trip. But this fact will not greatly trouble readers of the previous Monk books. The joy of this narrative is derived from observing Mr. Monk as he effortlessly spots the subtle clues and unravels the baffling complexities of each crime scene. And further pleasure is derived from the continuing evolution of the relationships between Monk, Natalie Teeger, brother Ambrose, and SFPD Captain Stottlemeyer.
Readers of Monk will enjoy Mr. Monk on the Road as much as or more than any of the Monk books that have preceded it. Heartily recommended.
And my friend Bill Crider also found a lot to like in this one. He said, in part:
The jokes are funny. The human relationships are serious and treated with dignity and respect, and the mystery aspect is . . . solidly there. I can say no more. Okay, that's a lie. I can say that this is another fine entry in a spin-off series that's taken on a life of its own. In fact, this book is the first one that picks up after the end of the TV series. I'm looking forward to keeping up with the adventures of Monk and Natalie for a long time to come. While the TV show is in endless reruns, those two characters will be living out their lives in ways that are bound to be well worth reading about
Thank you both for the great reviews!
UPDATE: I don't know how I missed it before, but Gumshoe Review also gave a rave to MR. MONK IS CLEANED OUT. They said, in part:
Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out may well be the finest entry to date in the Mr. Monk series, although it took me awhile to put my finger on the precise reasons that I liked this book so much. One major reason, I finally realized, is that this story resonated on some very sympathetic levels. The descriptions of small businesses gone bankrupt, police officers and others who have lost their jobs due to budget cuts, and people fearful of losing their homes to foreclosure struck a definite chord. So many of us these days find ourselves walking an economic tightrope, and this book's frank portrayal of that condition seemed to create a sort of brotherhood–a brotherhood comprised of both the readers and the characters. A kind of, "We're all in this together" spirit of dismal camaraderie.
Speaking of characters, throughout the Mr. Monk series author Lee Goldberg has always kept a firm grasp on exactly who his characters are, and he is able to expertly play them against one another to the best dramatic and comic advantage. If anything, Goldberg's use of his characters, dialogue and dramatic pacing has with time gotten better yet. From Natalie Teeger's inner dialogues that reflect the uncertainties of a single mother (and single woman) in today's uncertain world, to the lovable, but usually clueless and banal ideas that fall from the lips of police detective Randy Disher, to the extreme obsessive-compulsive manias that beset Mr. Monk on a daily basis, the idiosyncrasies and resulting interplay of these characters is a delight to the reader.
Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out is a first rate comic crime novel, but more so it is a celebration of all things Monk. A celebration that any fan of Mr. Monk will revel in. I heartily recommend this book.
For example, I never missed an episode of LAW & ORDER:SVU. Until now. This season, I've seen one episode (the horrendous "soft drinks are evil" episode)…and I haven't been back. (Of course, last season may go down as their worst ever and that may have turned me off to the show).
I loved MODERN FAMILY last season, I watched every, single episode. This season, I've watched three. I liked them all. But haven't been back.
I've seen about half of the CASTLEs this season. Have a bunch on my Tivo. Haven't watched them.
I've seen two episodes each of NIKITA, DETROIT 187, BLUE BLOODS, THE WALKING DEAD, BOARDWALK EMPIRE…I liked them, enough to get season passes on my Tivo, but so far, I haven't gone back to see any of them.
Last season, I watched four episodes of THE GOOD WIFE. Liked it. Tivo'd every episode, and still do. Haven't watched any of'em yet. I used to be an avid viewer of HOUSE, BONES, and CSI …and haven't watched them now for a couple of years.
I've seen three LAW & ORDER: LA's and that was enough. I saw two DEFENDERS, also enough. I saw one episode of each of CHASE, NO ORDINARY FAMILY, and THE GOOD GUYS. I saw one SHIT MY DAD SAYS and one MIKE & MOLLY, and I want that hour of my life back.
The only shows I haven't missed an episode of this season are DEXTER, JUSTIFIED, and LEVERAGE…and HAWAII FIVE-O (which is astonishing, since 5-o is so disappointing on so many levels. Why the hell do I keep going back?). I have watched a few UK shows… SHERLOCK, LUTHOR, LEWIS, etc…but those are only three to six episodes each.
And I, a life-long TV geek, have never seen a single episode of the Emmy-winning and wildly acclaimed series MAD MEN or BREAKING BAD. I've also never seen a single episode of BROTHERS & SISTERS, IN TREATMENT, THE EVENT, LIFE UNEXPECTED, VAMPIRE DIARIES, THE HUMAN TARGET and most of the new sitcoms.
I used to watch everything. I used to make sure I saw at least one episode of every new series.
Part of it may be there is so much more TV than ever before…ABC, CBS, FOX, CW, USA, TNT, TBS,Showtime, HBO, Starz, AMC…that it's impossible to keep up.
Part of it may be that I have been writing a lot…and watching TV feels like cheating on my deadlines.
Or maybe it's because so much of what I'm seeing feels rehashed and cliche-ridden…and I'm tired of being 20 steps ahead, plot wise, of the shows that I am watching.
Or maybe I've just watched too much for too long and need a sabbatical.
I have no clue. And yet, I feel guilty for "falling behind" in my TV viewing, like it's some sort of obligation.
But, and here's the really strange thing, I don't miss it.
I will soon be releasing a trade paperback edition of my book DEAD SPACE to go along with the ebook edition, which has been available for some time now. To generate fresh word-of-mouth and new reviews, I’d like email you a FREE COPY of the novel in whatever format you prefer (epub, PDF, txt, html, etc). Here’s all that you have to do:
1. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject FREE SPACE BOOK and give me your name and the address of your website or blog (don’t have one? That’s okay. Read on).
2. Agree to post a review, positive or negative (but with no spoilers!) on your blog, website, Goodreads page, Facebook page, or the Amazon listing for DEAD SPACE in the next 60 days. (You don't have to buy the book on Amazon to review it there, you only need to have an account).
3. Email me a copy of the review or a link to the post.
This offer is limited to the first 50 people who respond by January 15. (UPDATE 1/6/2011: I have already given away 25…so if you are interested, contact me ASAP!)
Here's the story on the book, which was originally published under the title BEYOND THE BEYOND by St. Martin's Press in the mid-1990s as a sequel to my book MY GUN HAS BULLETS…
Ex-cop Charlie Willis handles "special security" at Pinnacle Pictures. His job: to protect the studio and its stars, to stop scandals before they explode, to keep the peace in the land of make-believe. When Pinnacle revives the cult, 1960s TV series "Beyond the Beyond" as the cornerstone of a fourth network, two powerful forces fight for control of the show—a talent agency that uses blackmail, torture, and murder to keep its clients on the A-list, and a homicidal legion of rabid fans led by an insane actor who thinks he's in outer space.
CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR 'DEAD SPACE':
“Goldberg uses just about everything he can think of to send up the studio system, fandom, Star Trek, Trekkies, agents, actors… you name it, he’ll make you laugh about it.” Analog
"An outrageously entertaining take on the loathsome folkways of contemporary showbiz," Kirkus Reviews
“Mr. Goldberg has an observant eye and a wicked pen!” Washington Times
“[It] reads like a modern-day Alice in Wonderland set against the venal world of the TV industry. It’s wonderfully revealing and uncannily accurate,” Vancouver Sun (Canada)
"Some of the easily recognizable actors, agents and producers who are mercilessly ribbed may find it hard to crack a smile at the author's gag-strewn prose, likewise those seekers after politically correct entertainment. But the rest of us should have no trouble….the novel's satiric slant is strong enough to have an effigy of Goldberg beamed into outer space at the next Star Trek convention," Los Angeles Times
"Pinnacle Pictures has decided to revive a 25-year-old cult sci-fi TV show called Beyond the Beyond, but somebody keeps killing off the new cast. Is it the Hollywood agent who eats human flesh? The aging actor who still thinks he's a starship captain? The fans who live only to attend conventions? This sharp roman a clef goes where no Hollywood satire has gone before—altering just enough facts to avoid the libel courts but still smacking of a certain je ne sais Trek. It probably won't make Goldberg, a television writer and producer (Baywatch, Spenser: For Hire, seaQuest), the most popular boy on the Paramount lot, but it's a stingingly funny novel just the same."
"The hilarious follow-up to Goldberg's witty debut, My Gun Has Bullets…[this book] skewers the entertainment business, which Goldberg knows well," Oline Codgill, Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
"As in his riotous novel My Gun Has Bullets, TV writer/producer Goldberg once again bites the hand that feeds him, laughing all the while. Inspired silliness," Publishers Weekly