The Mail I Get

diagnosis murder
Here’s a sampling from the mailbag this week.  I got this note from a Diagnosis Murder fan:

please  put diagnosis murder back on youtube it is one of my favorite tv shows in the wide world and also airwolf is one of my favoritew shows as well  i miss diagnosis murder  very much i watch it almost  all day long  signed  a upset fan of the show    anna

I have nothing to do with any Diagnosis Murder episodes that are posted on YouTube. That said, whoever posted them as violating the copyright and the studio probably had the videos yanked. The good news is that the entire series is coming out on DVD later this summer…and I wrote the liner notes for the seasons that Bill Rabkin and I worked on. More on that soon.

Hi Lee

I just love your Monk Books, and when it was on TV, the show too.

I was noticing in my iTunes there is an author who has written some Mr. Monk books by the name of Hy Conrad. Is this a pen name or is someone actually writing Mr. Monk books and why aren’t you?

I have bought all of Mr. Monk books by you either through stores or in my iTunes.

I would appreciate it if you could email me and let me know the reason for the change in authors.

Thank you for your kind words about the book. I decided, after 15 books, that it was time to move on to other things. Hy Conrad is, indeed, a real person and he’s picked up where I left off. His first book, Mr. Monk Helps Himself, just came out. You can read more about it here.

Mr. Goldberg,

After reading THE HEIST I have read most of your work and enjoyed it a great deal.

Wondering if we will indeed see Tom Wade …..or even Harvey Mapes again ( the references to Travis McGee and Spenser et al hilarious….and prompted me to reread a couple of old John D McDonalds..great fun)

And why are you not in ibooks?

Thank you for your work!

I will definitely be writing a King City sequel, but I’ve got the sequel to The Heist to do first! King City was published by Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint, and I believe iBookstore refuses to carry Amazon titles. As for my backlist titles (Watch Me Die, The Walk, etc), I have an exclusive agreement with Amazon to publish and sell those books…at least for the time being.


The Mail I Get

KingCityI’ve been getting lots of reader mail lately with questions about my Diagnosis Murder, King City and Monk novels. Here’s a sampling of some of the questions and my answers:

First of all, I want to say thank you for bring Sharona back into the Monk series in 2012 with Mr. Monk on Patrol.  She was my favorite sidekick on the TV show and to see here reincarnated again in the book series was a delight for a reader and a fan of the TV Show.

Secondly, I was wondering if it would be possible to revive your Diagnosis Murder series again.  I used to watch Diagnosis Murder all the time as a kid, and reading the few books that are available that you wrote made me appreciate the show and the creativity behind the plot and the whodunit moment.  To read more adventures of Dr. Mark Sloan and his crime sleuth team would be a treat.  Is that something that could be worked out?

I replied: I’m glad you’re enjoying the Diagnosis Murder and Monk books. I’m afraid the ship has sailed on Diagnosis Murder. I was also a writer and executive producer the TV series during it’s long run…and after 100 episodes and eight books, I felt that I’d explored every aspect of those characters that I wanted to….and got to end the series the way I always intended (with Diagnosis Murder: The Last Word).

Once I walked away, my publisher let their license from Paramount/Viacom lapse on the books. Perhaps some day another publisher will decide to license the rights, and hire another writer to carry on, but I think it’s very unlikely. As for Monk, I actually brought Sharona back in an earlier book, Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants, which also predated her “return” on the TV series as well.

How did you come up with the title for King City?  I was raised in King City, CA so I’m sure you are not from there or the local newspaper, (we KC-ites call it, “The Rustler”) would have you all over the front page at least once a month!!  Since it’s a weekly newspaper and comes out on Thursdays they have to give some time to real crimes on their streets.

I replied: I have no idea how I came up with the name King City for my fictional metropolis in the Pacific Northwest. It just popped into my head. That said, I am a native Californian and have spent a lot of time in the Monterey area (when I was a kid we had a cabin in Capitola), so it’s possible the name of the town stuck with me all of these years, though I don’t remember ever having visited it.

Imagine how dismayed I was when I watched the final episode of the TV-series “Monk”, which I had discovered a few months earlier in reruns. It had become my favorite TV show. But then I got lucky. Quite by chance I discovered your Monk novel Mr. Monk on Patrol in a mail-order catalogue. Well, here was a chance to continue my Monk adventures. Having watched the series, I could visualize every scene in the book as if it were a TV show. Monk is his usual self, the plot is intricate and complex and the book is an easy and enjoyable read. Just one thing: You used who a couple of times when it should have been whom. If you like you can e-mail me any sentence with those words in it, and I’ll tell you which is correct. You’ll thank me later.

I replied: I’m so glad that you discovered the Monk books and that you are enjoying them. I’ve stopped writing the Monk books, but I can tell you the “who” instead of “whom” mistakes were entirely intentional, much to the consternation of my copyeditor. I know when and where to use “whom,” but I chose not to because it reads stodgy and awkward and I am a horrible human being. Most people do not use “whom” when they talk to one another.

King City Crowned

Many thanks to Dick Lochte and Mystery Scene Magazine for the great review of the King City audiobook.

Because of his recent television and literary work (15 best-selling novels based on the Monk TV series, as well as scripts for that show and Diagnosis Murder) Lee Goldberg has become something of a specialist at humorous crime. But he’s actually a multi-genre man, with sci-fi and, more recently horror (The Dead Man series) as part of his rapidly, one might say even exponentially, expanding oeuvre. This effective, hard-edged, one off thriller is a case in point. It’s hero, Tom Wade, is an honorable detective in the corrupt King City in Washington State who helps the Justice Department take down a bunch of bent fellow cops and pays a high price for it. Ostracized by his own family as well as former friends and associate, he’s reassigned to Darwin Gardens, a crime ridden slummy section of the city that resembles nothing more than a wide-open frontier town in the old wild west. Assisted by two other department castoffs, he begins a Wyatt Earp-like town taming, focusing on a series of murders involving young women. Goldberg begins his tale on a moment of high tension – with Wade facing down one of the crooked cops – and lets up on the action only to add dimensional detail to the characters and the town he has created. Patrick Lawlor, one of Brilliance Audio’s more active readers, understands the need for maintaining a fast, almost breathless pace, but he also knows when to slow things down enough for listeners to share Wade’s danger or savor his clever victories.

Giddy Up to Amazon

The Amazon Daily Post published my essay today on how westerns influenced the writing of KING CITY, my new novel. Here's an excerpt:

A western puts a man in a lawless, unforgiving, brutal frontier, where he must somehow survive by living off the land, his wits, and his own rigid code. It’s that last bit, I think, that is the core of it all: a personal code of conduct that’s constantly, relentlessly, put to the test.

A true western character ultimately prevails against adversity because of a stubborn, unwavering faith in his own convictions and the righteousness of his cause, a determination to see the world shaped the way he wants it to be, rather than let himself be shaped by it. He doesn’t try to explain or justify himself because it’s pointless. His actions speak for him.

And as iconic and old-fashioned as that all may be, it’s so refreshing in a world where everyone, particularly heroes in crime fiction, are so self-aware and self-obsessed, so eager to accept the moral, ethical, professional, legal ambiguities in a situation rather than take a principled stand on something, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong to everyone else.


0383 Lee Goldberg ecover King City_14Today, Amazon's Thomas & Mercer imprint released my crime novel KING CITY in digital and print editions…and Brilliance Audio released the 7-hour audio version, read by Patrick Lawlor.

Here's an essay I posted on this blog in August about the writing process behind the book…

I've written over thirty novels, and my process with all of them was pretty much the same. I had an idea, I wrote a bullet-point outline, and I started writing the book, revising my outline along the way (I call them "living outlines," since I usually finish writing them a few days before I complete my manuscripts). But the process of writing KING CITY, my new standalone crime novel, was entirely different.

KING CITY began as a TV series pitch that I took all over Hollywood four or five years ago. It generated some interest but ultimately didn't lead to anything.  So I put it in a drawer and moved on.

But the idea nagged at me anyway and I began to think KING CITY might make a better book than a screenplay. So, between MONK novels three years ago, I wrote 200 pages and a broad-strokes outline for the rest of the book.  

I sent the proposal to my agent and began writing my next MONK book. The first place she sent KING CITY to was Penguin/Putnam, my MONK publisher, because she felt certain they'd snap it up. Between DIAGNOSIS MURDER and MONK, I'd written twenty-some novels for them. We knew that they liked me and my work, which had been successful for them, so we didn't think they'd see KING CITY as much of a gamble.

But they passed, surprising us both. My agent felt the rejection was less about me or the book than the way the business had changed. Mid-list authors were being dropped, editors were being fired, and the days of selling book proposals was over. If I wanted to sell KING CITY, I'd have to write the whole book and then shop it around.

I wasn't wild about that idea. If editors who knew me and my work well didn't find the first 200 pages compelling enough to merit an offer, I doubted that reading the whole novel would change their minds. And if these editors, folks I'd worked with for years, weren't willing to gamble on me, why would someone else?

Moreover,  after years of having contracts before I started writing novels, I was spoiled. The idea of writing a book entirely on spec made me uneasy, especially given my experience with THE WALK and WATCH ME DIE. Both of those books were written "on spec" and, after years bouncing all over New York, were finally published by Five Star, who paid a pittance for them. They got wide acclaim but not wide distribution. From a financial standpoint, they seemed to be a bust. I wasn't willing to go through that again.

So I tabled KING CITY and went back to writing one MONK novel after another. 

But then something amazing happened — the ebook market took off, and I started earning tens of thousands of dollars on my out-of-print backlist, like THE WALK. It changed my thinking entirely about the publishing business. About the same time, my TV agent started nagging me to write a spec pilot.

Which got me thinking about KING CITY again.

So, last November, when I was once again between MONK books, I re-read the 200 pages and realized I had the makings of a great spec pilot. I stripped the story down to the bare elements, reordered events, dropped some characters, and  rethought everything. Over the holidays, I adapted my unfinished novel into a screenplay.  Actually,  it ended up being two of them:  the one-hour pilot and the second episode.  I sent both scripts off to my TV agent and began work on my next MONK.

The scripts got me some exciting meetings at studios and networks…but didn't pan out into any options on KING CITY or a series staff job (at least not yet).  But I realized I had more than just two strong scripts — if I put them together, I had a remarkably detailed outline for the book.

So I decided to write it during my next MONK hiatus.

Along the way, I made lots of changes. I liked most of the choices I'd made for the screenplay, which tightened the plot and gave the story more of a narrative drive, but I missed some of the more "novelistic" elements that I'd dropped. So instead of novelizing my screenplay adaptation of a novel, I found myself writing KING CITY all over again…for the third time.

It's been a very unusual experience for me. I feel that KING CITY has improved with each draft, whether in novel or screenplay form. Adapting the original, 200 pages into a script forced me to take a hard look at everything, to sharpen the characters and tighten the plot, stripping away all of the fat in favor of narrative drive.  That relentless and mercilous focus on character and lean story-telling may be great for a script but not so much in a book, where taking the time to establish a sense of place, and to explore the internal thoughts of a character don't slow things down, they enrich the experience. Adapting KING CITY back into a novel again allowed me to see where I might have cut too deep, over-simplified the characters, or moved events along too rapidly.

I finished the first draft two days before I had to begin writing my next MONK novel (which I am in the middle of right now) and sent it off to some close friends for their comments. They gave me great notes, and by that, I don't mean enthusiastic praise. They told me what worked…and what didn't. I've been revising the book a little bit each day and will send it off this weekend to be copyedited. 

I like to think this is the best version yet of KING CITY. But you'll have to be the judge of that…