My Dark Past, the Sequel

357 Vigilante 2
Not so long ago, I was surprised when a blogger reviewed my second book .357  VIGILANTE #2: MAKE THEM PAY. Now another blogger has reviewed it, too:

…if you're
familiar with Goldberg's TV work as a writer of middle-of-the-road
crime dramas like SPENSER: FOR HIRE, HUNTER and DIAGNOSIS: MURDER, you
may notice that the .357 Vigilante books are written in the same
glossy, straight-ahead style, albeit with slightly ramped-up sex and
violence that would probably not be too outrageous for today's
prime-time audience. I don't use "middle-of-the-road" in a disparaging
way above; matter of fact, I think television could use more shows like
HUNTER in a time when solving mysteries has become a grim pursuit,
rather than something fun (yes, I realize the concept that chasing
murderers should be "fun" sounds kinda weird, but that's what murder
mysteries are all about).

4 thoughts on “My Dark Past, the Sequel”

  1. I haven’t had a chance yet to read the Vigilante books but I have finished reading DIAGNOSIS:MURDER “The Past Tense.” And it is a really good book. By far, it is the very best book of the ones I’ve so far read.
    It just misses being a GREAT book — up there with “The Big Sleep” and “The Maltese Falcon” and Robert B Parker. I guessed what happened at the midpoint, so this needs to be fixed. And the emotional depth that the book gets to needs to go just that little bit deeper — it needs one of the characters to be more evil — like Eddie Mars’ gunman in Chandler’s novel.
    According to the copy I’ve got, it seems that Viacom owns the story. But if you could be allowed to rewrite the book, Lee, on the grounds that this could become a master-piece, I would urge you to do so. The names of the characters could be changed and this book could become one of the definitive “serial killer” crime novels.
    One of the best aspects of this novel is that you write such nice, full, satisfying story beats, beat after beat. (The story beats are usually one paragraph long.) So the rhythm is superb, just like Chandler’s book.
    Anyway, the story would also make a terrific feature with its contrast of two eras in American history, one of them being the always interesting 1960’s. The novel is also totally convincing with its nice attention to detail, which would also make for a great movie.

  2. Thanks, Dan, for all the kind words. I don’t think I would ever compare the book to Chandler myself, but it’s flattering that you do.
    I won’t be rewriting the book, either as a DM or as a novel with a different lead character. What makes the story work, on an emotional level, is all the baggage that Dr. Mark Sloan brings to it as a doctor with a long history of crime-solving (and with a son who is a cop). Creating a new doctor/detective and putting him at the center of that story wouldn’t carry the same weight. It was the right story for that particular character.
    It is my favorite DM novel…and I have been told that it and MAN WITH THE IRON ON BADGE are my best work.
    The book was the first of an unofficial trilogy that begins with THE PAST TENSE and continues with THE DOUBLE LIFE and THE LAST WORD which, as a group, I am very proud of.

  3. Lee, without having watched Diagnosis Murder, ever, would I enjoy the novels? I hate to cut myself off from a series that you’re proud of.
    But one of the key virtues of the Monk books is how well you capture the characters’ voices, and so without the DM voices already in my head, I’m concerned that the DM books will not work for me.

  4. Greg,
    I would say, surprisingly, that more than half the DM readers I met (or who sent me letters and emails) had never seen the show. I’m also pretty sure that the critics from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times who reviewed THE PAST TENSE also weren’t viewers of the show. (I am astonished by how many MONK readers I hear from, particularly those who get the books through the Mystery Guild, who don’t watch the series regularly or never have).
    I tried to write the books so they would appeal to viewers, and non-viewers, alike so yes, I think you could read the books without having watched the show before.


Leave a Comment