Saturday, December 30, 2006

Diagnosis Murder: The Double Life

Novelist and TV writer Lee Goldberg turns in another winner with the latest original "Diagnosis Murder" novel, The Double Life (Signet). From 1993-1999, the popular mystery TV series starred Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloane, veteran doctor and amateur sleuth, aided in his investigations by his son, LAPD Lt. Steve Sloan (Barry Van Dyke), and his circle of friends at the hospital.

As one of the architects for the TV show -- Goldberg served as writer and then producer for several seasons -- he is in a unique position to continue the adventures of Dr. Sloan and company. His original novels tread a fine line between keeping up the warm characterizations and engaging mysteries that were a hallmark of the series, all the while expanding and exploring the world of "Diagnosis Murder."

In The Double Life, Dr. Sloan ends up in his own hospital's ICU after an attempt on his life. When he wakes up, he discovers he can't remember anything from the last two years of his life -- including a wife he doesn't recognize. Struggling to come to terms with his current state, he learns that before the attempt on his life, he was investigating a series of mysterious deaths. Without his memory, Mark has to start his entire investigation from scratch. But as the clues point in two distinctly different directions, Mark and his son find themselves at odds, as the mystery begins to drive them apart. And all the while, Dr. Sloan is still a target for the real killer ...

With his "Diagnosis Murder" novels (as well as his "Monk" novels), Goldberg does an excellent job of building on the characters we know and love. He also displays a knack of creating mysteries within mysteries, much like a puzzle box: no sooner do you have one thing figured out than you discover it's actually hiding something even more sinister. As such, The Double Life is not just an excellent continuation of the series -- but an excellent mystery novel.

Related links:
Q&A: LEE GOLDBERG (Monk, Diagnosis Murder)
Mr. Monk and the Amazon review
Diagnosis -- Murder!
Mystery TV Themes: MONK
Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants
Monk's Mind Game (and more)
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Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction

SHE'S THE SHERIFF!

A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at StudioWell.com. Watch the trailer on YouTube.