GATED PREY is here!

Gated Prey by Lee Goldberg

I’m so excited! It’s pub-day for my new novel Gated Prey, the third book in the “Eve Ronin” series, which is  now available in ebook, paperback and hardcover editions.  Here’s the story:

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detective Eve Ronin and her soon-to-retire partner, Duncan Pavone, are running a 24-7 sting in a guard-gated enclave of palatial homes in Calabasas. Their luxury McMansion is a honey trap, set to lure in the violent home invaders terrorizing the community. The trap works, leaving three intruders dead, a body count that nearly includes Eve and Duncan.

Eve’s bosses are eager to declare the case closed, but there are too many unanswered questions for her to let go. Was the trap actually for her, bloody payback for Eve’s very public takedown of a clique of corrupt deputies? Or is there an even deadlier secret lurking behind those opulent gates? Eve’s refusal to back down and her relentless quest for the truth make her both the hunter…and the prey

The reviews so far have been terrific. Here’s just a sampling:

“Goldberg is every bit the equal of Michael Connelly… Superb reading entertainment.” Providence Journal

“Against all odds, Goldberg not only ties up most of the loose ends, leaving just a few deliberately dangling, but links some of Eve’s investigations in ways as disturbing as they are surprising. The seamy side of California dreaming.” Kirkus Reviews

“Hollywood decadence and duplicity are at the heart of bestseller Goldberg’s entertaining third outing for Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Eve Ronin. Lively descriptive prose enhances the tight plot of this episodic crime novel. Columbo fans will have fun.” Publishers Weekly

“Affectionate and witty interplay.” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

“Strong writing with just enough humor…Goldberg keeps the energy high throughout. One can hope that Goldberg will keep things moving for the foreseeable future, as there’s something special about what he’s started. This is a great series.”Mystery & Suspense Magazine

“The third Eve Ronin is another suspenseful, fast-paced yarn with engaging characters” Washington Post

“Third in Lee Goldberg’s Eve Ronin series, ‘Gated Prey’ begins, moves and ends at the speed of a bullet. Goldberg has a knack for adding subtle character nuances into his series, and here we find Eve and partner Duncan Pavone more complex than ever.” The Mountain Times 

If you’d like a signed copy, and can’t make it to one of my events next week, no problem! These bookstores will be glad to send you signed books:  Poisoned Pen, Mystery Ink, Bank of Books, Mysterious Galaxy, and Book Carnival.

And if you’d like to enjoy the “book event” experience, you can catch me in these recent video interviews with The Crew Reviews, Rogue Writers (with Lee Child, Andrew Grant & Lisa Unger), and at the City of Agoura Hills One City, One Book event.

Book Review: DOCTOR-DETECTIVES IN THE MYSTERY NOVEL

DOCTOR-DETECTIVES IN THE MYSTERY NOVEL by Howard Brody (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021) Let me get my bias out of the way. I was the executive producer & head writer of the TV series DIAGNOSIS MURDER, and have written for many other TV mystery series, so I have a natural interest in the subject matter of doctor-detectives. However, I also wrote eight original DIAGNOSIS MURDER novels, which are discussed in a chapter of this book. That has no impact on my review, but you will have to take me at my word on that.

My biggest criticism of the book is the outrageous, indefensible, $68 price for a 375 page hardcover, which makes it highly unlikely that this fantastic reference work will reach the wide audience of mystery readers and writers it deserves, and that is a shame.

My second major criticism is also a veiled compliment. Brody does indepth analyses of many medical mystery authors and their works (like Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell, Colin Cotterill, and Aaron Elkins among many many others)…and, in doing so, spoils many terrific mysteries by revealing the solutions (which is inevitable, given that he is analyzing how medicine is used to solve the crimes, reveal character, and further the plot). If you are interested in a particular author, or their work, do NOT read any of the examinations of the books or the pleasure of reading them will be ruined. However, if you *have* read the books, then his indepth reviews are a splendid and revealing addition to your experience.

Whether you are interested in medical detectives or not, this book is an invaluable resource for mystery writers, particularly the first four chapters, a study of the basics of mystery plotting. Brody also discusses the various types of mysteries and methods of investigation, the various tropes and cliches, the art of misdirection, and the key differences between a mystery ending “that makes perfect sense” and one that you “couldn’t guess the solution.” In many ways, these chapters serve as a primer on what to do, or not do, in crafting your own mystery.

He notes from the get-go the close ties between detective work and everyday medicine, arguing that being a doctor, and diagnosing a patient’s ailment, requires all the same skills  and methods as people solving crimes. He makes a case that R. Austin Freeman (1907-1942) was the first, and best, of the medical mystery authors. Freeman is unknown to me and, I suspect, most mystery readers, most likely because he was a raging anti-Semite and eugenics proponent, and those attitudes permeate his work. 

To be honest, I was less interested in his in-depth — and that is a huge understatement — explorations of every single work by Freeman and other very obscure, early authors than his broader comments about the craft of mystery writing, plot structure, and investigative techniques. If this book were more affordable — and that is also a huge understatement — I would enthusiastically recommend it as a necessary, fascinating, scholarly volume for every serious mystery writer and reader.  I wish I had this book before I started writing DIAGNOSIS MURDER…. 🙂

PS – That has to be one of the ugliest, and laziest, book covers in the history of publishing. It really feels like the publisher didn’t give a damn whether the book sold or not. Baffling.

The Cowboy and the Cossack

This is embarrassing… I wrote this post a few months ago and thought I’d published it… but it’s actually been sitting in my “drafts” folder all this time. If you are looking for a great book to read, I have a strong recommendation for you:

For years, Paul Bishop has been telling me that Clair Huffaker’s THE COWBOY & THE COSSACK is one of the greatest westerns he’s ever read & one of his favorite books. I finally got around to reading it and, holy crap, he was underselling it. It’s everything he said and more… yes, it’s another cattle drive story, and filled with the usual archetypes and tropes, but none of it feels like a cliche, largely because of the unique setting, the culture clash, the spare writing, and the colorful characters. What I wasn’t expecting, and greatly appreciated, was the humor and the little, surprisingly moving, touches of humanity. In many ways, the book reminded me of my favorite book of all time: Larry McMurtry’s LONESOME DOVE. I don’t understand why THE COWBOY AND THE COSSACK hasn’t been made into a movie yet. But it’s definitely one of my favorite westerns now, too… right up there with DOVE, A.B. Guthrie’s THE BIG SKY (and the sequel, THE WAY WEST), Thomas Berger’s LITTLE BIG MAN, James Robert Daniel’s THE COMANCHE KID, Elmer Kelton’s THE GOOD OLD BOYS, Frederick Manfred’s RIDERS OF JUDGMENT (and SCARLET PLUME), and Jim Bosworth’s THE LONG WAY NORTH. Stop whatever you are doing and read THE COWBOY AND THE COSSACK. Don’t wait years like I did…

Lots of Ronin News

Gated Prey by Lee Goldberg
It’s been a busy summer for me. I just delivered MOVIE LAND, the 4th “Eve Ronin” crime novel, to my publisher for an early 2022 release. It was a breakneck 90 days from conception to delivery. I’ve written books that fast before (all 8 of my DIAGNOSIS MURDER novels and most of the 15 MONK novels), but I was younger and more foolish then. It’s nice to know I am still capable of doing it…though it helps that I’ve basically remained in pandemic lock-down at home. Typically, it takes me a leisurely five months to plot and write a novel. Now it’s back to work on the spec thriller I was writing in May…I need to cram a lot of writing into the next few weeks because I don’t have much time before I’ll be attending a whole bunch of events tied to the release of my 3rd “Eve Ronin” novel GATED PREY, which comes out in October. You can see some of the early reviews for GATED PREY (and my contribution to the new collection COLLECTIBLES) below along with some other exciting news.
 
One City / One Book Picks LOST HILLS
 
Each year, the City of Agoura Hills participates in the “One City / One Book” national literacy program to stimulate reading through group book discussions and other related activities. The community read is sponsored by the City of Agoura Hills, Friends of the Library, the Los Angeles County Library—Agoura Hills Cultural Arts Council, and the Las Virgenes Unified School District. This year they’ve picked my novel LOST HILLS!! I am so thrilled. I’ll be talking about the book, and signing copies, on Sept 30th at the Agoura Recreation center. The event is free, but seating is limited and tickets are required. Here’s where to get yours…
 
Publisher’s Weekly loves GATED PREY
 
I am thrilled that I got a great review this week from Publishers Weekly for my new novel GATED PREY, which is coming out Oct. 26th but is now available for pre-order.
 
“Lively descriptive prose enhances the tight plot of this episodic crime novel. Columbo fans will have fun.”
 
Best Thriller Books Loves GATED PREY
 
The popular blog Best Thriller Books gave me a great early review for GATED PREY.
 
“Violent crimes and desperate criminals and homicide detectives, oh my!  Lee Goldberg delivers an intriguing, fast-paced, satisfying novel…This is a series to keep an eye on if you’re a fan of police procedurals, formidable female characters, and stories with great pacing.”  
 
Mystery Scene & Publishers Weekly Praise COLLECTIBLES
 
CollectiblesThis week Mystery Scene Magazine singled out my short story “Lost Shows” in their glowing review of Lawrence Block’s new anthology COLLECTIBLES
 
“This anthology’s true gem is Lee Goldberg’s ‘Lost Shows,’ a perfect, at times humorous story from an under-appreciated writer.” 
 
Not only that, but Publishers Weekly also singled out my story in their rave review:
 
“Villainy, paranormal goings-on, and cold-blooded murder…  Overshadowing everything, though, is Lee Goldberg’s Lost Shows, a delightful shocker about a fanatical collector of short-lived and unaired TV shows.”
 
You can order the book here
 
Entertainment Weekly Picks Summer Reads
 
My friends Rachel Howzell Hall , Shawn A. Cosby & I are among the authors recommending some thrillers in Entertainment Weekly by kick-ass writers like Hilary Davidson, Stephen Mack Jones and Matthew Farrell. You can find our picks here
 
Kirkus Reviews Loves GATED PREY
 
 
“Against all odds, Goldberg not only ties up most of the loose ends, leaving just a few deliberately dangling, but links some of Eve’s investigations in ways as disturbing as they are surprising.The seamy side of California dreaming.
 
Lots of Events Coming!
 
As I mentioned at the top, I’ve got lots of events lined up (with more to come). You can find them all here.
 
Okay, that’s the news for now. Back to writing!!

Disney Must Pay

I am a member of the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force, a group of various writers’ organizations (SFWA, MWA, ITW, etc), that is demanding that  authors, comic book & graphic novel creators get paid the royalties they’ve earned for their work from Disney & its companies. Here’s the full press release:

LOS ANGELES (August 12, 2021) – The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force is expanding its focus and reaching out to all comic book and graphic novel creators who may be missing royalty statements and payments from Disney and its companies.

“Writers, artists, illustrators, letterers, and other artists are valued members of the creative teams that produce art and literature that is enjoyed by millions,” said Mary Robinette Kowal, Task Force Chair. “We are inviting these talented artists to share their stories and we will fight for them to receive the money that is owed to them.”

All potentially affected writers and artists should contact the Task Force to share their stories. Creators who are missing royalties or royalty statements may fill out this form hosted by SFWA. Anonymity is guaranteed.

Lee Goldberg, Task Force member and founder of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), adds his thoughts about the need for the #DisneyMustPay Task Force to expand its reach to all creators: “Novelists and illustrators provide a rich, all-encompassing story-telling experience, their words creating fully flesh-out characters and detailed images, if not entire worlds and universes, in the readers’ minds. The authors and artists honored their obligation to write and create their books. Now Disney should have the decency and integrity to honor their obligation to pay them. It’s that simple.”

Sandra Wong, National President of Sisters in Crime, states, “Sisters in Crime believes that writers and creators should be paid what they’re legally owed for their work, no matter the media or genre. We joined the Task Force to help spread the word to potentially affected authors, since Disney has placed the onus to be paid on writers and creators, and to lend our voice to an issue which has potential consequences for all creators.”

The Task Force’s goals are to ensure that all writers and creators who are owed royalties and/or statements for their media-tie in work are identified and that Disney and other companies honor their contractual obligations to those writers and creators after acquiring the companies that originally hired them.

Fans, fellow writers, and the creative community need to continue to post on social media showing their support so the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force can help writers. Thanks to their support, the message is reaching Disney and related organizations, to alert them to the work they need to do to honor their contractual obligations.

Progress has been made, most notably ensuring that three well-known media tie-in authors have been paid and attaining the cooperation of BOOM! Studios in identifying affected authors. However, more than a dozen additional authors are still in negotiations with Disney. Many of them, especially ones with lesser-known names, find communications with Disney repeatedly stalled until pressure is again applied by the Task Force and its supporters.

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force, formed by SFWA, includes the Authors Guild, Horror Writers Association, International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, National Writers Union, Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime (SinC). Individual writers on the Task Force include Neil Gaiman, Lee Goldberg, Mary Robinette Kowal, Chuck Wendig, and Tess Garritsen. The Task Force identifies and guides authors and creators who might be owed money. Disney is refusing to cooperate with the task force to identify affected authors.

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force is working to make sure creators’ contracts are honored, but individual negotiations are rightly between the creators, their agents, and the rights holder. The Disney Task Force is working to address structural and systemic concerns.

Additional updates and information are available at www.writersmustbepaid.org.

 

Bathroom Etiquette

Etiquette question: I was standing at one of two urinals in a restaurant men’s room. A woman brought in a boy to use the urinal next to me. It made me very uncomfortable. Was I wrong? Or was she wrong to come in with him? Or should she have taken the child into a stall? Or should she have taken him into the woman’s room (FYI: There was no line for women’s room).

Work-For-Hire Conundrum

This article from The Guardian is a must-read for anyone considering a “work-of-hire” deal in book publishing or comic books. 

According to multiple sources, when a writer or artist’s work features prominently in a Marvel film, the company’s practice is to send the creator an invitation to the premiere and a cheque for $5,000 (£3,600). Three different sources confirmed this amount to the Guardian. There’s no obligation to attend the premiere, or to use the $5,000 for travel or accommodation; sources described it as a tacit acknowledgment that compensation was due.

Marvel declined to comment on this, citing privacy concerns. “We can’t speak to our individual agreements or contracts with talent,” said a spokesman.

Several sources who have worked with Marvel say that remuneration for contributing to a franchise that hits it big varies between the $5,000 payment, nothing, or – very rarely – a “special character contract”, which allows a select few creators to claim renumeration when their characters or stories are used. There are other potential ways to earn more – many former writers and artists are made executives and producers on Marvel’s myriad movies, cartoons and streaming series, for example – but those deals depend on factors other than legal obligation.

“I’ve been offered a [special character contract] that was really, really terrible, but it was that or nothing,” says one Marvel creator, who asked not to be named. “And then instead of honouring it, they send a thank you note and are like, ‘Here’s some money we don’t owe you!’ and it’s five grand. And you’re like, ‘The movie made a billion dollars.’”

The way Marvel writers & artists are being treated may be “contractually legal,” but it is still despicable. 

I’m very, very lucky. I have been treated fairly in my work-for-hire deals, which include my Monk and Diagnosis Murder novels. Those were great experiences. But I was in a unique position in both cases.

On Diagnosis Murder, I was the executive producer/showrunner on the TV series for several years (all with William Rabkin). The publisher and studio came to me to write the books… and that gave me leverage. Creatively, I certainly wasn’t going to let them tell me how to write books based on a TV series that I exec-produced. And, to their credit, they never dared  🙂 I had complete creative freedom.

On Monk, I was already a writer on the TV show and good friends with Andy Breckman, the creator/showrunner. He gave me free reign to do as I pleased creatively and he personally made sure I was treated fairly on every level (and two of my books were adapted into episodes). I wish I was paid a lot more, but otherwise, I look back on those 15 books with nothing but fondness.

The big pitfall with work-for-hire book deals is that you don’t own any aspect of your work. It’s the equivalent of building an addition on someone else’s home. In most work-for-hire deals, you are paid a one-time flat fee, a buy-out of all rights and royalties. Some work-for-hire deals, like mine, included a share of royalties and can also include a share of some future rights, like a movie or TV adaptation, but that’s very rare and few authors have the leverage to demand it…and get it.

The common work-for-hire, total buyout deal is easier to stomach when you are working within a hugely successful intellectual property you didn’t create… and it can bring your work (and your name) to a wider audience than you could ever hope to reach on your own, especially early in your career. It can be a big boost in visibility (reviews, bestseller lists etc) that’s worth the often very low pay, draconian deadlines, and rigid creative restrictions.

But a work-for-hire deal becomes thornier when you create new characters and storylines that lead to other works in the “universe” you are working it. Take, for example, the freelance TV writer who wrote the “Space Seed” episode of the original Star Trek series. Decades later, the character he created became the basis for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. My guess is that he got paid a pittance, if anything, and no credit. The Writers Guild of America has since dramatically increased protections (and compensation and credit) for writers in that situation, but authors don’t have a union in their corner or anything close to the same protections. They have an agent, or a lawyer, and they can consult with the Authors Guild (which has no teeth and is not a union), but they are still likely to get screwed over. The $10,000  you got paid to write a work-for-hire book seems like a win at the time…but it becomes an insult if the novel is later adapted into a movie or TV series or TV series episode…and you not only don’t paid anything more, you don’t even get a credit for your work.

Work-for-hire contracts in the publishing world are routinely slanted against the writer on every level. That needs to change. But will it? I doubt it.

 

One City, One Book

I got some great news this week. The City of Agoura Hills has selected me and my novel LOST HILLS as their 2021 ONE CITY, ONE BOOK / AUTHOR. That means the local libaries, schools, etc. will be encouraging everyone to read the book and to come to City Hall on Sept 30th to see me in conversation, buy a copy of my book if they haven’t already…and get their copies signed. Past honorees include Michael Connelly and Dick Van Dyke. 

 

Their press release goes into more details:

Each year, the city of Agoura Hills participates in the One City One Book national literacy program
designed to stimulate reading through group book discussions and other related activities. The
community read is sponsored by the City of Agoura Hills, Friends of the Library, the Los Angeles
County Library—Agoura Hills Cultural Arts Council, and the Las Virgenes Unified School District.

“Lost Hills’ is a gripping story with twists and turns that take place on the very streets of our local
community. I especially love the tenacity of the detective and could picture myself riding past so
many familiar places and, typical when I read a book I love, I didn’t want the story to end,” said
Agoura Hills Mayor Denis Weber, who added he is a veracious reader and Goldberg is one of his
favorite authors.

The city is hosting “An Evening with the Author – Lee Goldberg” on Thursday, September 30,
2021, at the Agoura Hills Event and Recreation Center, 29900 Ladyface Court, Agoura Hills, CA
91301. The author will also be available for book signings. Registration will begin starting August
1, 2021 at www.agourahillsrec.org. Admission is free, but registration is required; space is limited.
For updated information on One City One Book 2021 events, call 818-597-7361 or visit the
website. For more information about the One City, One Book literary program, contact Amy Brink, Director of Community Services at (818) 597-7361 or email ajbrink@agourahillscity.org.

The Mail I Get – Write With Me Edition

I got this email from a total stranger this morning. She said, in part:

“Okay, here goes. I’m a teen therapist for 20 years… I’ve been writing for a long, long time. Just putting it out there. I’d love an opportunity to write a script with you. I’ve no idea where one finds a writing partner.  I’m a novice at format not content or ideas. I am a sponge when it comes to learning. I admire you and sometimes you just gotta go for it. I teach people to ask for what they want, so I’m asking. Take a minute and feel how awesome my request is… I’m super creative and I like to write about real life events..with a twist. I’m a Gemini. If that helps, great..if not, I have many life experiences worth writing about and letting others go on that journey…I hope you want to know more!” 

I wrote back…

Sorry, I’m not interested in co-writing a script with you. I’m glad you teach teens to go after what they want… but you should also advise them to be realistic, to do research, and to learn about the best way to achieve their goals. Reaching out to professional writers to collaborate is not a successful strategy for breaking into the entertainment industry. Everyone has ideas and life experience…and an astrological sign. Instead, you should hone your screenwriting skill by taking classes or reading books… and write a spec script. Often the best contacts you can make are in those classes… the student next to you could sell her script and become your contact in the industry. If you want to learn more about breaking into TV writing, you might check out my book SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION WRITING.

Naturally, declining to appreciate “how awesome my request is” and jump at the rare opportunity to work with someone who has life experiences, is super creative, and a Gemini, didn’t go over well. She replied:

There are kinder ways to say things Lee.. but hey, You crossed my fb path, making yourself accessible so I went for it. I will continue to do so as I teach my kids. If you only wanted to be approached and praised and a book purchased, got it! I would never discourage anyone from trying. Opportunity lies everywhere. Please do not advise me on my skill set with my teens. You responded In a condescending manner. After many have reviewed your responses…people think your are rude and acted horribly!. I no longer admire someone who reprimands another like that…you take care sir.

Apparently, my posts showing up in her FB feed gives her permission to make stupid proposals to me. I didn’t say this, of course. Instead, I replied:

Your response to a polite rejection is telling. You clearly don’t appreciate the outrageousness, and presumptuousness (is that even a word? I really should know) of contacting a professional and asking to collaborate. It’s a huge, absurd and frankly insulting ask. Would you contact Diane Warren & Taylor Swift and ask to collaborate on writing songs, although you don’t have song song writing skills, but have coached teens, are really creative, have lived life, and are a Gemini? Would you reach out to Michael Giacchino about co-scoring a movie, or James Patterson about co-authoring a novel, or Ray Romano about co-writing jokes, or Amanda Gordon about co-writing a poem? I’m not in their league, of course, but your ask is essentially as ridiculous. They’ve worked hard to get where they are… and you want to partner with them? What are you thinking? I spend a LOT of time teaching, mentoring and helping aspiring writers…and have for decades. The difference between you, and all the aspiring screenwriters and authors I have worked with over the years, is that they take the time to understand the field they want to enter, to reseach how they work, and to learn the skills necessary to succeed. They don’t cold call professionals and ask to be their partner. You need to get real…and get over yourself. Or you are in for a lot of disappointment.

I knew where this response would lead, of course, and she replied exactly as I knew, and now you know, she would:

We do not agree. Thank you for your time. It was a mistake to approach you. Be well sir.
You need to stop. Your behavior is not constructive its destructive. Im done needing to hear from you. Not everyone fits your mold of thinking. You have been abusive. I’ll be sure to pass this experience on.

And then she blocked me. I don’t know what makes some people think they are entitled to make dumb requests like this…and then get deeply offended when their offer is rejected. I shudder to think what bad advice she’s giving to teens.

Walking the Walk

I’ve got two pieces of big news today. The first is that my novel THE WALK may soon be coming to a movie theater near you. Constantin Films has picked up my screenplay adaptation of book. Here’s an excerpt from the story in Variety. :

“Resident Evil” producer Constantin Film has acquired the rights to Lee Goldberg’s movie script for thriller “The Walk,” which he adapted from his bestselling novel. Goldberg has served as the showrunner of “Diagnosis Murder” and “Martial Law.”

Robert Kulzer of Constantin Film is producing “The Walk” with Monella Kaplan of eMotion Entertainment. Constantin’s Alex Westmore and Colin Scully are the creative executives handling the project.

Nick Hanks, Constantin’s senior exec VP of business and legal affairs and operations, negotiated the deal on Constantin’s behalf.

Kulzer said: “Lee’s adaptation of his own novel is a brilliant exploration of the human condition by using the ‘Big One’ as a backdrop to create unforgettable moments of hair-raising tragicomedy.”

Constantin is best known for the “Resident Evil” franchise, with six movies released that generated over $1.2 billion at the box office. A reboot of the series, “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City,” is set to be released on Nov. 24, 2021. Other credits include “Black Beauty” at Disney Plus and “Monster Hunter,” which is still in theaters around the world.

I am so excited and will keep you updated.

In other news, the cover for my next novel GATED PREY, coming out in October, was also released today. Here it is (click on it to see it full size):

Gated Prey