Book critic Oline Codgill of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has given me my first review of the new year… here’s an early peek at her Jan. 1st column and her review of THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE:
Anyone who has watched television during the past 10 years probably has at least
more than a passing knowledge of Lee Goldberg’s work. As an author, Goldberg’s
name may not come easily to mind. But as a writer/producer, Goldberg’s credits
include Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Nero Wolfe, Hunter, Spenser: for Hire and
The Cosby Mysteries. He has also written a couple of comic mysteries and
the thriller The Walk.
Credits aside, it’s always what can you do
for me today. And Goldberg does quite a lot in the amusingly hard-boiled The
Man With the Iron-on Badge. In this novel about a Los Angeles security guard
for a wealthy, gated community, Goldberg delivers a clever riff on the
traditional private eye novel, resplendent with witty and dark turns.
Twenty-nine-year-old Harvey Mapes is approached by one of the residents,
Cyril Parkus, to follow his wife. The spouse, Lauren, is so perfect that even
Harvey wonders how much of her is real.
He has little illusion about his
job — "I’m there to give the illusion of security. I don’t have a gun, a badge,
or even a working stapler." But this undercover assignment will give Harvey a
new view of his work. Not knowing anything about following someone, Harvey
immerses himself in detective lore — watching a Mannix marathon on TV
Land, reading detective novels by Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton, Robert Crais —
and tries to pass himself as John D. MacDonald, the best-selling author of
detective fiction who’s doing research. Of course, it would help that he knew
what the D. stood for in MacDonald’s name; or realized that everyone he talks to
knows who MacDonald was.
When the path he pursues following Lauren takes
a dark, twisted turn, Harvey refuses to give up. Along the way he will learn
about the lives of others and about himself.
Goldberg’s penchant for
complexity keeps the story on a twisted keel, and with his background, The
Man With the Iron-on Badge should make a lively movie of the week.