by Lorie Lewis Ham
I am so thrilled this week that we have a review of The Heist by Lee Goldberg and Janet Evanovich. Also, we have an interview with Lee about the book and writing with Janet, along with a chance for you to win a copy of the book-details at the end of this post.
The Heist by Lee Goldberg and Janet Evanovich
There are dream teams in sports, and I’ve listened to people talk about their dream cast of a certain show or movie–well I’d have to say that The Heist may be my dream team of mystery writers!
When I first heard that Lee Goldberg and Janet Evanovich were writing a book together I couldn’t wait until it was out! I knew it had to be awesome! Both have a witty and fun writing style and create excellent mystery plots and characters. KRL and I have followed Lee’s career for years–which includes TV shows such at Diagnosis Murder and Monk, and many original Monk novels. I have to admit that I have only read a couple of Janet’s Stephanie Plum books, but only due to a lack of time! When One For The Money came out my creative writing teacher made us read it as a great example of writing a mystery.
The Heist features con man Nick Fox and FBI agent Kate O’Hare. Tough as nails Kate has been chasing Nick for years trying to catch him, and has a bit of a secret crush on him. Nick is the textbook definition of a con man–charming, handsome, smart and witty. The chemistry between the two jumps right off the page. I so hope this book makes it to the movies–it would be such a fun movie. (no I won’t start casting it in my head, well not yet lol)
The twist of this book is that Kate catches Nick, and then ends up having to work with him to catch some even bigger crooks that the FBI has been unable to catch by conventional means. Of course there’s a Mission Impossible type twist to the situation–if they get caught the FBI will deny any knowledge of the mission and they will go to jail.
Nick goes about putting together a team for the con of non criminals who have just the skills they need and each with their own reasons for coming on board–a pilot, an actor, an architect, and a Hollywood make-up artist, are all a part of that team. Another favorite character is Kate’s ex military dad. Once the team is assembled, they set out to pull off the biggest law sanctioned con ever! Of course there are setbacks along the way and things don’t go smoothly.
I think my favorite part of this book is the chemistry between the two main characters. The writing is excellent of course, the idea is fun, and this is all around just a great book! Do not miss it! And I was so happy to learn that this is a series so there’s more to come.
Now back to casting the movie…there just has to be a movie made out of this one! It’s too perfect! Or maybe a TV show…
Interview with Lee Goldberg about The Heist
KRL: How did it come about for you to write this book with Janet Evanovich?
Lee: Janet and I have been friends for almost 20 years. Last year we got together for pizza and beer in L.A. and talked about the kind of book we’d love to read but that nobody was writing. Something that was pure escapist fun, full of high-stakes adventure, glamorous locales, and colorful, entertaining characters…with the flavor of The Thomas Crown Affair, It Takes a Thief, and The Avengers (The TV show, not the superhero movie!). Before the night was over, we talked ourselves into writing it.
KRL: Where did the idea for the plot and characters come from?
Lee: We plotted it together over long phone calls and a flurry of emails.
KRL: Who wrote what? How did you guys go about writing this together, logistics- wise? Were each of you responsible for certain characters? What has it been like working with Janet?
Lee: I wrote the first draft, sending her pages as I went along, and then she’d take pass at it. Writing the book was hard work…but the collaboration brought out the best in both of us. A new, shared voice emerged that is neither Evanovich nor Goldberg…it’s Evanoberg. And we both love it. It’s been a fantastic experience. I’ve learned so much from her.
KRL: Will this be a series or a standalone?
Lee: It’s a series. We are already hard at work on the second book, which will be published in February 2014.
KRL: Where there any special challenges writing together with someone else?
Lee: I’ve collaborated with other writers for most of my career…in TV and in books…in some form or another. So it’s more unusual for me to write alone. I enjoy working with other writers.
In episodic television, collaboration is the norm. You work for the Executive Producer, who is often the creator of the show, and with a room full of other writers. Your job is to tell a story the way the EP does, to establish and maintain a shared vision of the show and voice for the characters. You plot stories with other writers and often rewrite each other or just an scene or act of someone else’s script. (This is even true when you are the EP—you may be in charge, but you need to run the writers room, guide the plotting of stories, and usually have to do a polish on every script). Working this way gives you a real objectivity about your work and a willingness to accept feedback and other points-of-view without your ego getting bruised. It’s all about the show, not you.
In books, the writing is usually a singular pursuit. One author, one voice. But much of my novel-writing experience has been collaborative as well. I’ve written fifteen books in the Monk series, which was based on the TV show, which I also worked on. I was writing about characters I didn’t create—Andy Breckman did. So I had to run all of my ideas past him first. I was fine with that. It was well within my comfort zone and I thrived. The book series did, too.
Then William Rabkin and I created The Dead Man series of books and brought the episodic TV format to publishing. We wrote the first book together then hired other authors to write the subsequent, bi-monthly books the way we might hire freelance writers on an episodic TV series. We plot the stories with our writers one-on-one, through emails and sometimes phone calls, and then they go off and write a draft, trying to mimic our approach to the characters and storytelling while still bringing their own unique POV to the project. We give them notes, they do another draft or two, and then sometimes Bill and I will do a polish. It’s been so much fun and a commercial success. We’ve done 20 books so far with four more on the way.
All of that experience prepared me well for working with Janet on The Heist. Collaboration came very easily for me.
KRL: What sort of research did you have to do?
Lee: I’ve been to most of the places in the book, except for Indonesia. So I bought lots of guidebooks and watched videos/documentaries about the country and its culture. I’ve never skydived…so I contacted Vicki Hendricks, an author who has not only done it, but written novels about it, and she walked me through it. Twist Phelan, another author, helped me with the maritime stuff.
KRL: What’s up next for you?
Lee: Finishing the second Fox & O’Hare book…and then thinking up a story for the third one! I also still owe Thomas & Mercer a sequel to my novel King City.
To enter to win a copy of all The Heist, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Heist,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 13, 2013. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.