Some Nice Words from Publishers Weekly

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*Starred Review*

Did you know  that in its Nov. 25, 2013 issue the trade journal Publishers Weekly gave a starred review to my latest Nero Wolfe novel, “Murder in the Ball Park.” PW is most selective in handing out its starred reviews, and I was honored to again receive that merit, which also had been awarded to my “Archie Meets Nero Wolfe” a little more than a year earlier.

The PW reviewer called my latest effort “superb” and went on to say that in the storyline “the investigation follows the dynamic of Rex Stout’s originals, with Archie (Goodwin) dutifully reporting back to the sedentary genius (Nero Wolfe) before a gathering of the suspects in Wolfe’s West 35th Street brownstone for the satisfying denouement.”

I hope readers agree the PW assessment of “Murder in the Ball Park,” which came out January, both in print and as an e-book.

You can also find several of my previous Nero Wolfe books on Amazon.com.

Nero Wolfe and Baseball

Goldsborough_Murder_1[5][2] (1)Given my love of baseball, I suppose it is no surprise that I have finally set a Nero Wolfe novel–my ninth–against a baseball backdrop. “Murder in the Ball Park” will be published by Mysterious Press/Open Road Integrated Media early in 2014.

Without giving too much away–heaven forbid!–I will say this much: the story is set at the midpoint of the 20th century and opens at a baseball game in New York’s Polo Grounds between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers, two teams that have long since departed the Big Apple for San Francisco and Los Angeles respectively.

Archie Goodwin, a Giants fan, and Saul Panzer, a follower of the Dodgers, are in the stands on a fateful June afternoon when a political figure of note is gunned down in his seat during the game. Pandemonium ensues, followed by a public outcry, fueled by the newspapers and aimed at the city government and the police department. The police are stymied in their hunt for the killer, and eventually, albeit reluctantly, Nero Wolfe steps in.

Rex Stout, the creator of the Nero Wolfe series, was an avid baseball fan, often attending games at the Polo Grounds and Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, but not Yankee Stadium (he disliked the Yankees). And he set one of his Wolfe novellas, “This Won’t Kill You” from the trilogy “Three Men Out” (1954), at the Polo Grounds, where a murder takes place during a World Series.

“Murder at the Ball Park” is my second mystery with a baseball setting. The first was “Three Strikes You’re Dead” (2005), a Steve ‘Snap’ Malek story from Echelon Press. The year is 1938, and famed pitcher Dizzy Dean has been traded to the Chicago Cubs. Although well past his prime, the colorful Dean helps pitch the Cubs into the World Series. He also saves newspaperman Malek’s life during the hunt for a killer. This book is available from Echelon Press or Amazon. If you love baseball, you might consider adding both of these books to your library.

A Cherished Honor

Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough

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I was delighted to learn in February that “Archie Meets Nero Wolfe” had been named “Best Historical Mystery of 2012” at the annual Love Is Murder mystery conference held near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The “Lovey” (as these awards are called) is the culmination of several months of activity for me in introducing my “prequel” to the Nero Wolfe series created and continued for four decades by the great Rex Stout.

It was a special pleasure for me to win this award at what long has been my favorite mystery gathering. Love Is Murder, held each year on the first weekend in February, brings together mystery and thriller writers and fans from across the country. The three days are filled with panel discussions on subjects ranging from how to find a literary agent and how to keep your series fresh to tips preparing your manuscript for publication and strategies for getting your book on the shelves of public libraries.

As interesting and instructive as the panel discussions are, the informal gatherings over food and drinks can be equally stimulating, as best-selling authors mingle with other attendees and share their experiences with publishers, agents, and readers. When a top-flight mystery writer talks about his or her difficulties in initially getting published, it gives hope–and stimulus–to those struggling to get into print and/or the e-book world.

So this new “Lovey,” my third such award spread over the last decade, now occupies a place of honor on a shelf in my den and will, I hope, spur me to keep on writing.

* * *

Publishers Weekly starred review of Archie Meets Nero Wolfe: “Goldsborough hits nary a false note, an impressive achievement…”

Archie Goodwin & Snap Malek–Twins Separated at Birth?

Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough

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Since I began writing the Steve “Snap” Malek Chicago historical mysteries for Echelon Press nearly a decade ago, several readers have commented that the brash Malek, a police reporter for the Chicago Tribune, bore a decided similarity to the equally brash Archie Goodwin, the narrator of the Nero Wolfe stories and Wolfe’s right-hand man.

Not surprising, because before publishing my five Malek books, I had written seven Nero Wolfe novels in the 1980s and ’90s, continuing the series created by the late Rex Stout. Had I purposely created Malek in Goodwin’s image, these readers asked? The answer: I’m not altogether sure.

Probably somewhere in my subconscious, I wanted to at least partially clone Archie Goodwin, whom I feel to be one of the most colorful and memorable characters in the history of American detective fiction. In Snap Malek, there are many parallels to Archie, along with marked differences.

Among the similarities: Both Archie and Snap are self-assured to the point of cockiness. Both are street-smart as well as steadfast in the face of danger. Both tend in their headstrong attitudes to rile their superiors–Nero Wolfe and the Chicago Tribune, respectively. And both have an ambivalent attitude toward the major law officer in their stories–New York Police Inspector Cramer and Chicago Police Detective Chief Fergus Fahey. (I also have been accused of fashioning Fahey into a carbon copy of Cramer; let me mull over that charge.)

As to some differences: Snap has battled alcoholism, Archie drinks only in moderation. Snap is married (for the second time), Archie is a bachelor, albeit with a longtime girlfriend, Lily Rowan. Snap lives in a suburban Chicago home, Archie dwells in that legendary brownstone in the heart of Manhattan.

Now that I am back to writing about Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin after an 18-year hiatus (“Archie Meets Nero Wolfe”), I wonder if readers who knew only of my Snap Malek stories will pick up this new book and ask me: Did you model this Archie Goodwin fellow on Snap Malek?

Terror at the Fair (On Sale Now)

Terror at the Fair by Robert Goldsborough
A Snap Malek Mystery Book 5

It’s the summer of 1949 and Steve “Snap” Malek has been assigned by his editors to cover the Chicago Railroad Fair. For three months this sprawling and lavish event will draw visitors to the showcase on the city’s beautiful Lakefront. Malek, used to getting his headlines covering the gritty Police Headquarters, sees this as the first step in being put out to pasture. Deciding that a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, he accepts the assignment, grumbling all the while.

However, violence has a way of finding the intrepid Snap Malek, even in this least likely of locales. Striking indiscriminately, a killer bearing a grudge against railroads in general, threatens to shut down the highly publicized and well-attended national exposition with a series of bizarre murders.

Before this reign of terror ends, famed filmmaker Walt Disney enters the scene with a theory about the killer, and Malek himself, bloodied and wounded, becomes a target of the madman’s wrath.

Excerpt:

Prologue

He had laid the last of the iron bars in place across the rails, making sure their positioning would cause the ancient and relatively lightweight locomotive to derail and crash, taking with it the open-side excursion coaches crowded with fairgoers. He checked his watch again: twenty minutes until the next train came by, and it always ran on schedule.

This being the darkest stretch along the line, the lethal bars on the track wouldn’t be seen by some chance passerby, not that people walked in this remote area of the fairgrounds anyway.

His work done, he stepped back into a cluster of bushes and knelt to wait, feeling the bulge in his hip pocket. He felt comforted to have it there, although it seemed beyond the realm of possibility it would be needed. No, this would be simple and efficient, the final act in his crusade.

It is almost over now, Papa. Just a few more minutes…

He heard something–footsteps? No, probably just leaves on a tree along the tracks rustling in the breezes wafting off Lake Michigan on the August night. There they came again, louder this time. Definitely footsteps! Perhaps one of the janitorial crew. They seemed very good about picking up rubbish. Whoever it was would have moved on long before the train came along.

He saw the beam of light before he saw the figure. A silhouetted man carrying a flashlight walked slowly along the tracks, playing the light back and forth, back and forth, until its yellow halo rested upon the iron bars. The interloper with the flashlight squatted down to study the bars, then began picking them up and tossing them off the tracks.

He rose from his crouch in the bushes and wrapped his hand around the pistol in his jacket pocket. He walked toward the man, whom he now recognized, and called to him by name, pulling the weapon out. So now, one more must die.

A Call from Rockford Best Seller!

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