KING CITY by Lee Goldberg
King City by Lee Goldberg was an absolute blast, an easy-reading, turn-the-pages story that took me back to the days when reading was a relaxation of the truest form. Just plug in, detach brain, and cruise through an adventure filled with good guys and bad guys and plenty of action.
I’m really glad that this novel is the first of a series. I want to hang out with Sergeant Tom Wade and his little band of do-gooders for a while longer. Wade is good company, and he’s a guy I can root for, one that doesn’t mind taking the bull by the horns.
Wade’s sense of honor propels the story, but it’s the thing that also creates the most conflict. From the opening scene where Wade decides to hand over the corrupt cops he works with, to his unflinching resolve to clean up King City, Wade never wavers from his chosen course or the kind of man he has chosen to be.
The first novel lays all the groundwork and establishes a lot of characters for Goldberg to work with in future volumes. We don’t get to know a lot of history of them, but these are larger-than-life characters, even the ones that are the poor and destitute of King City. I believe Goldberg with add layers and varnish as he continues on the series, and I’m looking forward to it.
Wade’s two patrolmen, Billy Hagen and Charlotte Green, also tend to be stock characters in this first novel. Since the concept was originally intended to be a television series, filling those characters out would have been the duty of the actor/actress chosen, but they’re so engaging in the story that it’s easy to imagine the lives they lead when they’re not onscreen. It’ll be fun to see if what I’ve imagined is close to the truth, and I do want to see more of these characters.
Duke Fallon, King City’s crime lord, is also of stock, vintage character. Lee Goldberg, like me, read a lot of Robert B. Parker’s novels while working on his writing. I see a lot of Spenser’s nemesis Joe Broz in Duke, and I’m loving how similar Duke is to those underworld figures in private eye fiction. In fact, Tom Wade and his situation, to the degree of dropping an outsider into a volatile mix, reminds me of another Parker character, Jesse Stone, as played by Tom Selleck.
Comparing Goldberg’s creation to Parker’s is high praise indeed, and Goldberg matches the books stride for stride, while still echoing the Western themes of High Noon and Tombstone.
I hope Tom Wade is in for a long assignment in King City, and I hope the crime rate doesn’t drop too quickly.