Every Friday, a bunch of mystery fans and bloggers pick their favorite forgotten or overlooked classic of the genre. THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE was author Paul D. Brazill’s choice today and he said, in part:
The Man with the Iron-On Badge by Lee Goldberg is a classic PI novel full of great lines and twists and turns with a touch of the Rockford Files and The Big Lebowski about it.
Apart from being highly entertaining, The Man With the Iron-On Badge is author, Lee Goldberg’s love letter to detective fiction and television shows of the past. And as such, a knowledge of these shows is a boon when reading this book. Don’t get me wrong, the reference aren’t obscure and you don’t have to be a detective story boffin to appreciate the story, but the subtle in-jokes, and allusions to Shaft, Spenser, Shell Scott, Travis McGee, Mannix, Rockford and many others, simply mean that if you are familiar with those characters, then this book offers that extra bit of ‘knowing’ enjoyment.
Ultimately, The Man With the Iron-On Badge delivers exactly what the title and the opening paragraphs promise — a fast paced, first person thriller about an under achiever who has to strive to be more than he ever thought he could be. More than just a ‘man with an iron-on badge’.
Thank you so much, David!
For now, The Man with the Iron-On Badge is only available as an ebook (though you can still find used copies of the hardcover out there)…but in early 2011 there will be a trade paperback edition, too. Here are links to the digital editions:
Of all the books that I've written, my favorite is THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE. It was nominated for the Best Novel Shamus award by the Private Eye Writers of America, and won quite a lot of critical acclaim, before falling out-of-print. Here's a sampling:
"As dark and twisted as anything Hammett or Chandler ever dreamed up […] leaving Travis McGee in the dust." Kirkus, Starred Review
"Approaching the level of Lawrence Block is no mean feat, but Goldberg succeeds with this engaging PI novel." Publishers Weekly
I want to introduce THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE to the next wave of new Kindle, iPad, and Nook owners this holiday season… and to do that, I’d like send you a FREE COPY of the novel in whatever eformat you prefer (epub, PDF, txt, html, etc). Here’s all that you have to do:
1. Send me an email at email@example.com with the subject FREE BADGE BOOK and give me your name and the address of your website or blog (don’t have one? That’s okay. Read on).
2. Agree to post a review, positive or negative (but with no spoilers!) on your blog, website, Goodreads page, Facebook page, or the Amazon listing for MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE by Christmas Day. (You don't have to buy the book on Amazon to review it there, you only need to have an account).
3. Email me a copy of the review or a link to the post.
This offer is limited to the first 50 people who respond by November 30.
The book is about Harvey Mapes, a 26-year-old security guard who spends his nights in a guard shack outside a gated community in Southern California, reading detective novels, watching reruns, and waiting for his life to finally start. It finally happens when Cyril Parkus, one of the wealthy residents, asks Harvey to follow his beautiful wife Lauren.
The lowly security guard jumps at the opportunity to fulfill his private eye fantasies and use everything he’s learned from Spenser, Magnum, and Mannix. But things don’t exactly go according to the books…or the reruns. As Harvey fumbles and stumbles through his first investigation, he discovers that the differences between fiction and reality can be deadly.
With the help of his mortgage broker neighbor and occasional lover Carol, Harvey uncovers a blackmail plot that takes a sudden and unexpectedly tragic turn…plunging him into a world of violence, deception and murder… and forcing him to discover what it really takes to be a private eye.
Here's a sampling of some more of the critical praise the book received from authors and critics…
“A wonderfully fresh voice in the mystery genre, Goldberg will delight fans of Janet Evanovich and Robert Crais,” – Rick Riordan, author of "Percy Jackson & the Olympians"
"Lee Goldberg bravely marches into territory already staked out by some fierce competition — Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, the early Harlan Coben– and comes out virtually unscathed." The Chicago Tribune
"Goldberg has a knack for combining just the right amount of humor and realism with his obvious love for the PI genre and his own smart ass sensibilities. THE MAN WITH THE IRON ON BADGE is a terrific read. Goldberg is the real deal and should be on everyone’s must read list." Crimespree Magazine
"The Man With The Iron-On Badge is a quick, fun read with a satisfying and unexpected ending. Harvey Mapes is a hero I hope we see in a sequel." — Phillip Margolin, author of "Gone But Not Forgotten"
Iron-On is a book that will keep you laughing and smiling all the way through. If you have any affection for the private eye novel, this book should be required reading because in addition to gently spoofing the form it is a story so rich in character and story twists it's truly masterful.[…]But more than the comedy, the beautifully designed plot and the snapshots of La La Land–more than any other element in the book, it's Harvey's voice you'll remember. There's a workaday universality to it that gives the novel its wit and insight and truth.
Thank you, Ed. I'm truly flattered. It is my favorite book of all the ones that I've written. I hope that it's published in trade paperback someday…and does well enough to justify a sequel.
I’ve had some very nice emails today from people who attended the International Mystery Writers Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky and enjoyed my play, MAPES FOR HIRE. I also stumbled on a blog by Tony Brewer, who led the foley team who did most of the live sound FX for the “radio” plays. He writes:
I love doing sound effects, especially live, and boy did this project
stretch me. I think I commented elsewhere: 8 shows, 34 performances, 10
days, with a little over a week of real-time face-to-face onstage prep
and rehearsal. Damn.
But what made this so rewarding was the
talent involved. From the seasoned audio producers, to the pros in the
sound booth, to the versatile actors, to the great writing, add me to
the mix and you’ve got a unique, hybrid theatre experience. A little
bit old-time radio, a little black box, plus 3 of the shows were
screenplays adapted for live performance — basically movies performed
live — all done on a shoestring.
For me the only thing more fun than watching Monk is reading the
adventures Lee Goldberg creates for him.
[…]As usual Mr. Goldberg not only keeps the story rolling, he also
gives us a plenty of smiles and out-loud laughs along the way. This
time he gives a sense of a foreign milieu as well, some very sly travel
commentary from time to time. The Monk books take a series that
is one of the best on TV and makes it even better. No small
accomplishment. I can't wait for the next one
Whenever I review one of Lee's books I feel guilty if I don't mention his masterpiece, The Man With The Iron-On Badge. This
is a novel that pays tribute to the classic private eyes by introducing
a funny, cranky, sly and very bright guy named Harvey Mapes who between
honoring his twin obsessions junk food and crime fiction on page and tv
screen manages to become more than just a security guard–he becomes a
private eye, kind of.
[…]The mystery here is cleverly drawn and not without grit and real
suspense. The other aspect is the tour of LA that Lee/Harvey takes us
on. Too much of LA fiction plays the usual songs. But the cunning
detail in Iron-On Badge makes everything from gated communities to
eating at Denny's seem brand new. This is because we're seeing it
through the eyes of a burned-out working class guy who takes us inside
his dotty but endearing fantasy life.
This is one of those novels that will be around for a long, long time. It's that good.
I hope he's right, though the book is hard-to-find. I still haven't managed to get a deal for a mass market paperback edition…but I'm working on it.
As you read this, I'm on my way to Owensboro, Kentucky today to see "Mapes For Hire," the stage play version of my Shamus-nominated PI novel THE MAN WITH THE IRON ON BADGE, which is being performed this week at the International Mystery Writers Festival. I'll also be talking about writing TV mysteries in a seminar with CSI creator Anthony Zuiker, participating in some panels, and doing a number of book-signings with folks like Stuart Kaminsky, Mary Higgins Clark, and Gene Hackman. But what I am really, really looking forward to is eating lots of BBQ.
"Combining humor and suspense together
in a mystery novel is no easy feat, and few writers can accomplish it
with the skill of Lee Goldberg. The Man With the Iron-On Badge
is an affectionate ode to the classic Private Eye novel, told with wit
and grit, and a touch of panache." -Crime Fiction Dossier
"Wit, Grit and Panache." Sounds like a great title for a lousy TV series, doesn’t it? I can see it now…
"Jack Wit is a cop who doesn’t play by the rules, a rogue, a rebel, a loose cannon…Samantha Grit is a beautiful, sexy, undercover operative with degrees in psychology, criminology, and kicking ass… Largo Panache is a mysterious stranger, a thief who can steal anything from anyone anywhere… together they fight crime across the globe. They are WIT, GRIT AND PANACHE."
If you’re a regular visitor here, then you’re familiar with Chadwick H. Saxelid, a frequent commenter on my posts and a man whose unusual name I have borrowed (with his permission, of course) for a murder victim in DIAGNOSIS MURDER: THE DOUBLE LIFE (coming in November 2006). Today, he reviews THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE on his blog. He says, in part:
Lee Goldberg’s The
Man With the Iron-On Badge is a fun little page turner that, on more than one occasion,
reminded me of Parnell Hall’s Stanley Hastings series. Like Stanley Hastings,
what Harvey Mapes thinks he knows about private detective work comes entirely
from television shows and crime novels. (Goldberg’s novel references so many
different television shows and/or books that it almost qualifies as an exercise
in metafiction.) Unlike
Stanley, when Harvey gets in over his head he finds an inner reserve of strength
and character that he never even knew existed within him. (Stanley usually
makes an ass out of himself, or he just gets lucky.)
But Mapes amateurish fumbling and on-the-case training are just sly
misdirections on Goldberg’s part. While the reader is distracted by Mapes’s
growth from junk food guzzling slacker to junk food guzzling detective, all the
clues are artfully dropped. Another trick is how The
Man With the Iron-On Badge manages to spoof private detective story cliches
while letting Mapes discover that the reality of amateur detecting isn’t all
that different from what is on TV or in books, after all.
Goldberg’s clever premise allows him to present a refreshingly un-macho hero to whom any fan of the P.I. mystique can relate. Facing the hard realities behind private eye genre cliches, Harvey believably discovers truths about the case and about himself.
Gerald is big fan of Robert Parker’s Spenser, and runs the Spenser discussion group, so I was especially pleased that he enjoyed the book. I was also thrilled to discover that Harvey Mapes got his own listing in Thrilling Detective’s list of literary PIs.