With Diagnosis Murder #8: The Last Word author Lee Goldberg takes to the status quo of the series the way Godzilla takes to Tokyo. He leaves no recognizable landmark standing, completely obliterating the status quo. […] This is dark stuff indeed and a major change of pace for the series. […] This time around [he] takes the gloves off and does more than put Mark Sloan in a coma, he beats him bloody and senseless. Watching Sloan rebound and regroup in an atypical manner completes the deconstruction of both the character and the series. The Last Word truly is.
I certainly can’t argue with his overall take on the book, though I don’t think it’s any darker than THE PAST TENSE (#5) or THE DOUBLE LIFE (#7)…the other books in this "unofficial" trilogy. It was certainly my intent with THE LAST WORD — as well as PAST TENSE and DOUBLE LIFE — to explore, as deeply as I could, Dr. Mark Sloan and to make him more than just a one-dimensional TV character, a "doctor who solves crimes." Over those three books, and to a lesser degree in THE SHOOTING SCRIPT (#3), I was intentionally confronting/deconstructing the ridiculous conceits of the series in a backwards attempt to make the implausible, underlying concept more believable and, by extension, the characters more real. I know that sounds pretentious, but I like to think that’s what made these books read more like novels than simply knock-offs of a TV show…and why I was lucky enough to enjoy so much critical praise for them (even from Chadwick!).
If I ever decide to do more DM books, the resolution of THE LAST WORD opens the door to go in a new direction which…after being involved in four seasons of DM as a writer/producer and as the author of eight books…I am ready to do. I think I have taken this particular format and these relationships about as far as they can go.
I’m curious to know what you think. Is THE LAST WORD a fitting end for the series? Or did I go too far?