From Chicago History Comes Well-Aged Mystery   


I was a police reporter only for a brief spell at the beginning of a journalism career that spanned 44 years, but it was long enough to create a permanent impression of the experience that enabled me to develop police reporter-protagonist Steve “Snap” Malek.

My five Malek mysteries from Echelon Press are set in Chicago between 1938 and 1949 and are set against the backdrop of real events, among them the Chicago Cubs’ classic 1938 pennant race, the early work on the atomic bomb at the University of Chicago in 1942, the tragic Naperville, IL. train wreck of 1946, and the historic 1948 presidential campaign between Harry Truman and Thomas E. Dewey.

Now my brief time as a police reporter took place in 1959, well after the time frame of the Malek stories, but the Chicago of the late ’50s was little changed from the two preceding decades. In my books, I felt comfortable describing the sprawling city, the newspaper business, and the police department that existed in a slightly earlier time.

My fictional “Snap” Malek (so nicknamed because he always wears a snap-brim hat) interacts with many historical figures, including Al Capone, actress Helen Hayes, baseball pitcher Dizzy Dean, star-crossed automaker Preston Tucker, newspaper magnate Col. Robert R. McCormick, President Truman, future Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, and filmmaker/cartoonist Walt Disney.

Malek, who possesses what other describe as “essential brashness,” is not intimidated by coming in contact with these and other well-known figures, which is one of the hallmarks of newspaper reporters. To them, famous persons are useful because the help make the story headline-worthy.

The Steve “Snap” Malek Series:

  1. Three Strikes You’re Dead”  (Set in 1938)
  2. Shadow of the Bomb” (1942)
  3. A Death in Pilsen” (1946)
  4. A President in Peril” (1948)
  5. Terror at the Fair” (1949)

12 thoughts on “From Chicago History Comes Well-Aged Mystery   

  1. I own all 5 of these, as well as all of the Nero Wolfe books ( both by Mr. Goldsborough and Rex Stout. I am anxiously waiting for both another Snap Malek book as well as another Nero Wolfe ( hopefully in the near future). Some of the very best reads I own and read over and over.

  2. Hi Robert,
    I am currently putting together a “Snap Malek Reader,” a book consisting of a Malek novella, titled “Stairway to Nowhere”, and five Malek short stories. When it is ready, there will be word of its availability on my website. Also, I have another Wolfe book on the back burner. Thanks for asking!

    Robert Goldsborough

  3. Hello old timer,

    You probably don’t remember me but I remember you from our days at NU.

    Congratulations on your latest book! Keep it up.

    You are a credit to our school and class.

    all the best,

    George Hawley tech ’60

    • Hi George,

      So nice to hear from you! I recall that you were active in ROTC and that you, like me, came from the Du Page County suburbs. I grew up in Elmhurst and have lived for many years in Wheaton, which was your old territory as well, wasn’t it? I often see another of your Naval ROTC colleagues, Alan Rosenthal, who’s an Evanston resident and who sends greetings. Where do you live this days?

      All best,
      Bob Goldsborough

      • Bob- We attended Elmhurst Junior Hi and York Hi together, and thenas a sophomore my family moved to Phoenix. We reconnected at NU in fall of 1955. Friends Bill Naumann, Bill Michaels, Carl Hansen, etc. What a treat to see that your memorable ability to keep track of the baseball stats in the late 40s and 50s has turned into your career at the Trib, and now as a tremendous author. I am a retired Commander,. US Navy, living in Port Orange, Florida, and have a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior. Would love to catch up on things since I left NU during our freshman year to return to Phoenix, and then on to Santa Barbara for graduation.
        I’m sure you dont have too many old friends by the name of “Schmook”, so I’m the one.
        Best regards,
        Jim Schmook

      • So good to hear from you, Jim! I of course remember you well, even going back to Old Field School when we still had the 2 Field schools. I remember that your Dad was an osteopath and, if my memory isn’t totally shot, he was a doctor or trainer for the Chicago Cardinals football team, maybe even when they won the NFL title against Philly in the late ’40s. Somehow I had known you had been a career naval officer but I did not know about your Ph.D. Sounds like you’ve had a great career.

        I never strayed too far from Elmhurst. After my NU days, I went to work for the Chicago Tribune as a reporter and editor for over 20 years, and then as an editor for the marketing publication Advertising Age for another 20-plus years. When my wife Janet and I got married 52 years ago, we lived first in Evanston, then in Glen Ellyn, and for the last 35+ years in Wheaton. We’ve got 4 kids, 8 grandkids–all in the greater Chicago area. I still try to write one mystery novel each year, at least as long as my brain holds out!

        Two years ago this summer, Larry Larkin hosted the 60th anniversary of York’s Class of ’55 at his estate at Lake Geneva, Wis. Bill Naumann was there, and also Joel Herter, who you may remember. I’m not sure Bill Michaels was in attendance, however, although we had a sizable turnout.

        Warm regards,
        Bob Goldsborough

  4. Bob- What a memory! Yes, you have it right. My Dad was a trainer for the Cards. And you even remember Old Field! Wish I had been able to attend the reunion. Meanwhile, I will download all your books on my Kindle, and have a great reading adventure as we vacation in the NC Blue Ridge Mountains for 3 months in our motorhome. Would like to have your email address if it isnt too invasive on your time. If you ever visit Florida, please stop by for dinner.
    My best to you,
    Jim Schmook
    Port Orange, FL

  5. Dear Mr. Goldsborough,
    I recently ran across your 2009 piece on Wayne Atkinson ( Your choice to refer to him as “Mr. Atkinson” had a very nostalgic effect on me. As a neighbor kid, I was privileged to spend much time in the Atkinson house. I also spent time in his art studio, dojo, and even visited WLS. He was and is one of my heroes, and my house is adorned in his artwork.

    The bonds I formed with “Mr. Atkinson” (eventually Wayne), and the Atkinson family, extended into adulthood. As your article presented, he was a funny and generous man, and he deeply impacted many lives, including my own (even appearing in a middle grade novel I wrote). His words about talent are germain in my life, and your article was a walk down memory lane. For that, I thank you.

    Very Best regards,
    John Dreyer

  6. Thank you for keeping Nero and Archie alive. They have been in my life for over 60 years and they have become valued “friends.” You have captured the essence of the characters so well that it would be difficult to know where Rex Stout ends and you begin. Ivan Robert Padjen. P.S. As a kid, my favorite fighter was Rocky Marciano. I noticed a typo in that he won 49 fights not 59. I’m sure he won’t mind being credited with the extra ten!

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