For more than a decade, Rudy Serafin showed up to his makeshift office underneath the 10 Freeway as the sun came out and the roar of the morning commute shook the ground below his feet.
With a generator, his cellphone and a portable toilet, the 49-year-old immigrant from Michoacán, Mexico, worked alongside a dozen others operating small businesses in spaces they rented between the concrete columns holding up the interstate. They were mechanics, truckers, garment suppliers, recyclers and pallet distributors, struggling to get by in the region’s economy. They paid rent to a Calabasas businessman who leased the land from Caltrans and, according to court records filed by the agency, illegally sublet it to them at far higher rates.
On Saturday, many of the renters’ dreams went up in the pallet-fueled inferno that caused such severe damage to the freeway that it is expected to be closed for weeks.
While officials say the cause of the fire was arson, many who worked there, with no fire alarms or sprinklers, say it was a disaster years in the making.
My new thriller Malibu Burning, is now available for pre-order and will be out in September. It’s a standalone novel, but it’s set in the same “universe” as my Eve Ronin series. In fact, it takes place at the same time as Lost Hills. Here’s the story:
Hell comes to Southern California every October. It rides in on searing Santa Ana winds that blast at near hurricane force, igniting voracious wildfires. Master thief Danny Cole longs for the flames. A tsunami of fire is exactly what he needs to pull off a daring crime and avenge a fallen friend.
As the most devastating firestorms in Los Angeles’ history scorch the hills of Malibu, relentless arson investigator Walter Sharpe and his wild card of a new partner, Andrew Walker, a former US marshal, suspect that someone set the massive blazes intentionally, a terrifying means to an unknown end.
While the flames rage out of control, Danny pursues his brilliant scheme, unaware that Sharpe and Walker are closing in. But when they all collide in a canyon of fire, everything changes, pitting them against an unexpected enemy within an inescapable inferno.
I’m fortunate that the book has earned some early praise from some fantastic authors.
“Malibu Burning is a blistering thrill ride full of Southern California thieves, cops, and firefighters, all facing high stakes and imminent danger. Superbly researched and told, fast-paced, and downright fun, this is Lee Goldberg at his best!” —Mark Greaney, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Gray Man series
“By turns tense and rambunctious, wildly entertaining, and breakneck-paced, Lee Goldberg’s splendid Malibu Burning is pure storytelling pleasure from beginning to end.” —Megan Abbott, Edgar Award–, Anthony Award–, Thriller Award–, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize–winning author of The Turnout
“An inventive, twisty, and funny caper from one of crime writing’s true pros. Elmore Leonard and Donald Westlake would’ve loved this wild heist.” —Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of Robert B. Parker’s Bye Bye Baby and The Heathens
“This is a book I couldn’t put down. Lee Goldberg is a master when it comes to building tension and writing heart-pounding action scenes. Malibu Burning is a roundhouse kick of a thriller, a true nail-biting race against time.” —Simon Gervais, former RCMP counterterrorism officer and author of The Last Protector and Robert Ludlum’s The Blackbriar Genesis