Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sad Harvey Mapes is a winner

Watch Me Die

ny Lee Goldberg

an E-book reissue of

“The Man with the Iron-on Badge.”

also available as a paperback

This is the story of sad Harvey Mapes and how he tried to become Travis McGee, or the International Op, or even, Joe Mannix. If you want to know how well he succeeded, read the story. It’s a very funny novel. It’s a very good plot with some surprising twists I never saw coming. A couple of warnings may be in order. There is some really powerful and explicit brutality in this novel. There is some sex and some frank language. Finally, if you are a down and died-in-the-wool, living-it-to-the-end rabid crime fiction fan, you may want to skip this one, because Goldberg manages to diss just about every film and TV detective from “The Great Train Robbery, (1903) to Sherlock Holmes, to Ephram Zimbalist Jr. and just about every detective novelist from Collins to Connelly and Crais.

The author also manages to head-slap the film and TV industries and not a few publishing efforts. That it all works in service to the story and sad Harvey Mapes is testament to the skill and artistry of the creator of “Watch Me Die. Lee Goldberg certainly has the demonstrated chops to be able to produce this risible, amusing and very diverting story. Just glance at his bibliography for a taste.

Sad Harvey Mapes is a gate guard for a gated community in the Los Angeles area. He reads a lot of crime fiction and dreams of one day becoming a Travis McGee or a Tom Sellack. He’s single, lives in a depressing if exotically-named apartment and he spends a lot of time ogling women and dreaming about sex. Then he gets employed by a resident of the gated community to follow the man’s wife and find out what she may be up to. It appears to be a classic if run-of-the-mill detective novel set up doesn’t it? Guess again. Sad Harvey Mapes life is never again the same and readers may very well have to adjust their attitudes about the whole mystery and crime fiction millieu. Read the acknowledgements. I don’t get the title of the e-book, but everything else about this novel is just first rate.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


By Colin T. Nelson

ISBN: 978-0-87839-385-4

Released by North Star Press,

Trade Paper, 218 pages, 2010

From the first page of the prologue, this is a scary novel. It is also provocative, intriguing and it raises questions that remain in the mind after the final chapter closes. The other stand-out aspect of REPRISAL is that it presents people as multi-dimensional. Not all heathens are enemies. The novel calls on readers to consider and reconsider one of the founding principles of the United States, that we judge people individually, not by dress, or skin color or religious affiliation, or by country of origin, but by demonstrated actions and words. Makes it difficult for Law Enforcement, doesn’t it?

That’s part of the premise of the novel. The author doesn’t preach, doesn’t pontificate, rather he reminds us of our heritage through the thoughts and deeds of an American-born Muslim woman, a public defendant attorney for Hennepin County in Minnesota. She’s tasked with defending a Muslim man, accused of murder, who rejects out of hand the idea of a woman attorney.

Throughout the sometimes overly-detailed work of preparing the case, Zehra Hassan must defend not only the murder charge, but the man’s anger and hatred toward her and what he views as a corruption of the teachings of the Qur’an. But as the case progresses, Zehra begins to discover the outlines of a far darker, far more dangerous terrorist plot.

The novel is generally well-written, although a more precise editorial eye would have fixed a few awkward phrases and improved clarity. The book evokes well the widely varying attitudes of people toward those with whom they have few contacts and little understanding. A fine cast of characters with differing attitudes and roles contribute to the pace and the rhythm. The plots are well-organized and satisfactorily concluded. An enjoyable thought-provoking novel of crime fiction I am pleased to recommend. I also note that the author and this writer are acquainted.