Goldberg, the author of 30 books, has also been a writer and producer for several TV shows, including Monk and Diagnosis Murder. His new novel is True Fiction, an Ian Ludlow mystery. When we caught up with him by phone recently from his home in California, Goldberg said he knew by the time he was 7 years old he wanted to write mysteries. He was already reading and watching them on TV. "And I think I learned more from Encyclopedia Brown than anyone,'' he said. "I wanted to be him. I set up a table, and I called myself Encyclopedia Goldberg. I didn't get any big cases.''
What's on your nightstand?
I like reading in my genre. A book I loved was Anthony Horowitz's Magpie Murders. It's a mystery within a mystery. I guess you could say it celebrates mysteries. It's an Agatha Christie-style whodunit, and then you also have a contemporary whodunit. It is a bit of a deconstruction of the whole genre.
I was going to ask you to talk a little about Agatha Christie.
I love the puzzle. I'm a huge fan of the mystery form, and she created the template for the modern drawing room. It is dated, yes, but it works. It plays fair. The clues are there for you to spot. I was never fond particularly of the characters and stereotypes that were in Christie books, but I love the plot construction.
What is the next frontier for the mystery genre?
It has changed quite a bit, with two big impacts lately. One is the huge proliferation of forensic programs. People become more interested in the microscopic and physical clues than the character and behavioral clues that have been the mainstay. And the other is the explosion of reality television and social media where scandals and mysteries play out in front of you in real time. So the future of mysteries may be more interactivity, where you the viewer or reader become the detective by using email and tweets.
Contact Piper Castillo at email@example.com.