(formerly The Man With The Iron-On Badge)
Marvey Mapes is a twenty-nine-year-old security guard who spends his nights in a guard shack outside a gated community in Southern California, reading detective novels, watching TVLand reruns, and waiting for his life to finally start...which happens when Cyril Parkus, one of the wealthy residents, asks Harvey to follow his beautiful wife Lauren.
The lowly security guard jumps at the opportunity to fulfill his private eye fantasies and use everything he's learned from Spenser, Magnum, and Mannix. But things don't exactly go according to the books...or the reruns. As Harvey fumbles and stumbles through his first investigation, he discovers that the differences between fiction and reality can be deadly. With the help of his mortgage-broker neighbor and occasional lover Carol, Harvey uncovers a blackmail plot that takes a sudden and unexpectedly tragic turn...plunging him into a world of violence, deception, and murder...and forcing him to discover what it really takes to be a private eye.
"Approaching the level of Lawrence Block is no mean feat, but Goldberg succeeds with this engaging PI novel, the first of a new series. Harvey Mapes, an overeducated security guard for a Southern California gated community, is pulled out of his rut when a wealthy resident hires him to tail his wife. Genre readers won't be surprised that this simple assignment turns more complicated, but those who like their mean streets settings to be coupled with a twisty solution will enjoy the surprise ending. While Mapes's rampant sexual appetite may not be for everyone's taste, readers who devoured Block's brilliant Chip Harrison mystery picaresques (which doubled as affectionate pastiches of Nero Wolfe) will find Mapes a worthy (if slightly more mature) successor to Harrison and clamor for more."
"As dark and twisted as anything Hammett or Chandler ever dreamed up...leaving Travis McGee in the dust."
—Kirkus Reviews (*starred review!)
"[Watch Me Die] has snappy dialogue, tight plotting and near-perfect pace. Mapes is laugh-out loud funny in the way of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, and the plot is surprisingly graceful, keeping the reader guessing to the very end. Harvey's growth as a human being is an added bonus. One can only hope this is the first of many novels about this engaging character."
—The Oakland Press (Michigan)
"Harvey Mapes could be me. He's a guy who reads a lot of PI novels, loves the old PI television shows and he thinks he can solve mysteries. The similarities are almost disturbing. However Harvey is fictional, and a bit more willing to take chances. The book sets up nicely with Harvey working in his guard shack for a gated community in California. One of the residents makes a nice monetary offer to him in exchange for services, in short the old rich guy wants his wife followed. Harvey having read many books and seen many TV shows feels he's up to the job. What ensues is a wonderful story of the pitfalls of overestimating yourself, and what happens when you surpass your own expectations. Goldberg has a knack for combining just the right amount of humor and realism with his obvious love for the PI genre and his own smart ass sensibilities. [Watch Me Die] is a terrific read and I for one would love to see this become a series. Goldberg is the real deal and should be on everyone's must read list."
—Jon Jordan, CrimeSpree Magazine
"Lee Goldberg is right there with the best and his character, Harvey Mapes, is an Everyman for the Ages, troubles, stumbles, and grit. [Watch Me Die] simply gives it up: danger, humor, society laid bare, and Goldberg at his best, which is very good indeed. With wannabe, ever-at-risk Harvey, Goldberg has turned the PI genre on its head."
"Meet Harvey Mapes, a fledgling private eye who's learned everything he knows from mystery novels. Hold your calls, turn off the tube, put your feet up and prepare for a witty, wicked and dare I say wise little book. Lee Goldberg shows off more than just his funny bone here. He reveals a keen eye for the wrenching heartbreaks and triumphs that forge heroes—even from the Harveys of the world."
"Lee Goldberg's [Watch Me Die] is a very funny book about the ironclad LA class system, life in a security guard's shack, and the crucial differences between violence as experienced on a TV show and in real life."
"[Watch Me Die] is a quick fun read with a satisfying and unexpected ending. Harvey Mapes is a hero I hope we see in a sequel."
"If you're a fan of TV private eyes like Mannix and Rockford, and the heroes of the old Gold Medal paperbacks like Travis McGee and Shell Scott, you'll love Harvey Mapes. He's nothing like them, but he loves them, too, and in an attempt to emulate them and get away from his boring security guard job, Harvey goes on the ride of his life. Lee Goldberg has succeeded in producing a clever, witty and intelligent parody of, and homage to, the PI genre."
"Lee Goldberg is a sly and funny writer, with a warm heart and an ease with words. He never disappoints."
"A wonderfully fresh voice in the mystery genre, Goldberg will delight fans of Janet Evanovich and Robert Crais. His security guard Harvey Mapes' crash course in the difference between fictional and real P.I. work makes for hilarious reading. I had huge fun reading this, though I must admit wannabe P.I. Harvey Mapes struck a little too close to home for me. I guess all mystery writers have more Harvey in us than we care to admit."
"Likeable loser Harvey Mapes is my new favorite private eye, the guy with
the dead-end job who longs to be Mannix or Travis MaGee. [Watch Me Die] is a cool, smooth read, and Lee Goldberg knows how to keep the reader turning pages until the very end. Bravo. I hope the folks in charge of the Shamus nominations are paying attention."
"Great concept and great execution...it's funny, thrilling, and quirky, with a completely satisfying ending you won't see coming."
—Barry Eisler, New York Times bestselling author
"Lee Goldberg is known for his cleverness and sense of humor. He shows how a masterful plotter can take a character in a comic situation and lead him into unexpected danger in an eye-blink."
—Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author
"When Harvey Mapes gets a chance to step out of his job as a security guard to be a private detective [...] he finds courage he never thought he had and the malleable conscience every successful PI needs. If you're looking for a great read, look no further."
—Joel Goldman, bestselling author of Motion to Kill
"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...Lee Goldberg certainly has the demonstrated chops to be able to produce this risible, amusing and very diverting story...this novel is just first rate."
—Carl Bookins (read the full review)