Mr. Monk and the Great Review

Author Bill Crider reviews MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS on his blog today. He says, in part:

As I’ve said before (here and here), I’ve never seen an episode of Monk. Yet I have a great time reading Lee Goldberg’s novels based on the series (and I’m not even reading them in the order of their publication).
I don’t think a book in this series will ever get an Edgar nomination. Why? Maybe it’s greatest drawback is that it’s a tie-in. Tie-ins don’t get a lot of respect. Too bad, because people who don’t read them often miss a real treat. Also, there’s not a lot of heavy-duty angst.

The lack of recognition for tie-in books is why Max Allan Collins and I established the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers (aka IAMTW or I Am a Tie-in Writer) to raise awareness of tie-in books and their writers. The organization is now three years old and boasts over 100 members. We also established the Scribe Awards, honoring excellence in tie-in writing.

One of the beefs with the Edgars is that the judges seem partial to angst-ridden, hardboiled novels and neglect thrillers and light-hearted fare. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I can understand why that perception persists — I don’t think that a “comedy” has ever won the Best Novel Edgar. That said, Gregory MacDonald won for “Best First Novel” for FLETCH in 1975 and Sharyn McCrumb won “Best Paperback Original” for BIMBOS OF THE DEATH SUN in 1988.  

The Monk books may never merit an Edgar nomination, but TWO ASSISTANTS did win the Scribe Award last year from the IAMTW for “Best Original Novel” in the General Fiction category and I am very proud of that.

6 thoughts on “Mr. Monk and the Great Review”

  1. I’m glad TWO ASSISTANTS received some recognition, it’s my favorite Monk novel.
    But it seems clear that more Edgar categories should exist. With the movies, there’s an award for best drama, best comedy and best animation. In mystery, maybe there should be a category for best dramatic mystery, best comic mystery and best tie-in mystery.

  2. Actually, I’ve served as Chair of the Edgar Awards and am currently on the committee that oversees the awards. I don’t think there should be more Edgar categories, Dan. There are quite a few as it is. I think adding more would only diminish the prestige of the award and spread our judging resources too thin.

  3. In my (comparative) youth, I had quite a shelf full of tie-in novels, from movies and TV. Not surprisingly, most of them were in the crime categories; cops, private eyes, and spies lent themselves more readily to paperback prose than other kinds of shows. My all-time favorite was TRIALS OF O’BRIEN, based on Peter Falk’s short-lived first series, an original written by Robert L. Fish. I was still in high school at the time, but I knew that Fish had won awards for his mysteries, which meant that Signet getting him for the O’BRIEN gig was something of a coup. I wish I still had it – along with all the others I’ve lost/misplaced/threw out(sob) over the years. If only IAMTW or something like it had existed all those yaers ago….

  4. Lee, maybe you’re right that it would spread the judging resources a bit thin, the way the judging is now set up. So maybe a new way of judging could be initiated. Maybe registered book reviewers all over the country could vote for their favorite books in each category even if they don’t read all the books in that category. And even the public could vote on-line. The fans pick the all-stars in baseball.
    But I’m not sure that making more categories would hurt the prestiage of the award. I think the presitage of the award is already being compromised, perhaps, by putting apples up against oranges and kiwi fruit :). Noir novels shouldn’t compete against comic cozies, but each should compete against the others in the same category. The grammy awards used to have this problem, as you know. So they greately expanded the number of categories and I don’t think that diminished the prestiage of the award — it increased it, at least, that’s how I see it.
    Anyway, tie-in’s seem to be on the rise. Your Monk books and Todd’s Burn book sell in Guelph. And sales seem to be picking up, albeit slowly. Same with Max Allen Collin’s books. These books seem to provide a more in-depth visit into the story world than the TV show can provide. I would like to see tie-in’s versus tie-in’s duke it out for the Edgar, and noir versus noir, etc. To me, that gives the award a definition and a heft it might not have when various categories of story are lumped together.

  5. i just read ‘the two assistants’ and was wondering if you forgot to mention who took care of Julie when mr. monk, sharona & natalie when to los angeles?


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