From Chicago History Comes Well-Aged Mystery   

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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)

The Chicagoland “Family” of Mystery Writers

 

I am very fortunate to be a mystery writer in the Chicago area because of the strong support and encouragement I receive from other authors in the region. And I am hardly alone. Mystery and crime writers working in Greater Chicago, almost without exception, applaud the successes of others in the field.

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Robert Goldsborough with Michael Black at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Forest Park, IL 2016

We attend one another’s book signings and other events, e-mail or text congratulations on awards and good reviews, and generally serve as an informal “cheering section” for colleagues. There seems to be an almost total lack of jealousy or resentment of success.

Now, it is possible this spirit of collegiality also exists in other metropolitan areas, although I am not qualified to say, having lived my entire life in what our media like to term Chicagoland. I only hope other cities have this same spirit.

Whether or not these cities are similar, I am proud to be a part of the Chicago area’s mystery writing community and its generosity of spirit.

The Order of Things

murder-stage-left-goldsboroughThe arrival this month of “Murder, Stage Left” marks the publication of my 17th mystery novel. Below, in the order they were written in each series, are the titles.

Please note that while the Snap Malek mysteries are best read in sequence, it is far less important that my Nero Wolfe books be read in any order.)

Nero Wolfe Mysteries

  1. Murder in E Minor
  2. Death on Deadline
  3. Fade to Black
  4. The Bloodied Ivy
  5. The Last Coincidence
  6. Silver Spire
  7. The Missing Chapter
  8. Archie Meets Nero Wolfe
  9. Murder in the Ballpark
  10. Archie in the Crosshairs
  11. Stop the Presses!
  12. Murder, Stage Left

Snap Malek Chicago Mysteries

  1. Three Strikes You’re Dead
  2. Shadow of the Bomb
  3. A Death in Pilsen
  4. A President in Peril
  5. Terror at the Fair

 

Setting My Stories Squarely in New York

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I was delighted to learn that my latest Nero Wolfe novel, “Murder, Stage Left,” has been warmly received by the publishing industry.

Publisher’s Weekly gave the book a starred review, calling it “Goldsborough’s superior 12th Nero Wolfe pastiche” and adding that “Even die-hard Rex Stout fans will have a hard time distinguishing Goldsborough’s prose and plotting from the originals.”

Booklist, the American Library Association publication, called it “a virtually perfect homage to the Rex Stout originals, from the orchids to the beer to the gourmet foods and, best of all, to Archie’s bemused, self-deprecating narration. Comfort food for fans of classic mysteries.”

Long before I was given the wonderful opportunity to write and publish the Nero Wolfe stories, I had always viewed Rex Stout’s creations as “the ultimate New York mystery series.” Mr. Stout placed his tales in the midst of the largest city in America, with numerous references to businesses, landmarks, and neighborhoods.

broadway-theaterWith New York, and specifically Manhattan, in mind, I have endeavored to work into my stories the businesses, entertainments,  and industries the city is famous for. “Murder, Stage Left” is a case in point, using the Broadway Theater as its backdrop. What other city has a theater scene to compare with that of the Big Apple?

Other New York strengths I have focused on in my books include: the advertising business (“Fade to Black”); book publishing (“The Missing Chapter”); newspapers (“Death on Deadline”); major league baseball (“Murder in the Ball Park”); and a symphony orchestra (“Murder in E Minor”).

So as an author, I say “Viva New York.”

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.

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