by Lee Goldberg
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Pub Date 07 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 30 Nov 2023
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Goldberg, comes an explosive, page-turning investigative thriller - with a mind-blowing twist.
There's a saying in Barstow, California, a decaying city in the scorching Mojave desert . . .
The Interstate here only goes in one direction: Away.
But it's the only place where ex-LAPD detective Beth McDade, after a staggering fall from grace, could get another badge . . . and a shot at redemption.
Over a century ago, and just a few miles further into the bleak landscape, a desperate stranger ended up in Calico, a struggling mining town, also hoping for a second chance.
His fate, all those years ago, and hers today are linked when Beth investigates an old skeleton dug up in a shallow, sandy grave . . . and also tries to identity a vagrant run-over by a distracted motorhome driver during a lightning storm.
Every disturbing clue she finds, every shocking discovery she makes, force Beth to confront her own troubled past . . . and a past that's not her own . . . until it all smashes together in a revelation that could change the world.
“A superb twin-track thriller featuring constant intrigue and a huge secret - could be Lee Goldberg’s best ever”
– Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“In Calico, Lee Goldberg seamlessly blends a present-day police procedural with a Western from the 1880s. The results are a genre-bending, gripping read”
– Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“A mind-bending thriller unlike anything I have read before. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough”
– Linwood Barclay, New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author
“A tour de force of a novel. The authenticity is overwhelming, the writing is taut, and the mystery is thoroughly engrossing”
– James Robert Daniels, author of The Comanche Kid, a Spur Award finalist for Best Western Novel
“One of the most compelling novels I’ve read in a long time. Great characters, a vivid historical setting, and intriguing plot twists had me staying up late to finish it. Goldberg always delivers the goods, and Calico is something special”
– James Reasoner, Spur-Award finalist and author of more than 350 westerns
“A two-fisted western mystery with a compelling heroine in Beth McDade. If you like the Yellowstone series and its spinoffs, you'll love Calico!”
– Peter Brandvold, multiple Spur Award finalist and Western Fictioneers Lifetime Achievement Award honoree
“Lee Goldberg delivers with the unapologetically savvy Beth McDade, a detective unafraid of following the dead bodies and the mystery surrounding them. Calico couples history with good old fashioned detective work”
– Yasmin Angoe, award-winning author of the Nena Knight series
“Calico is stunningly original – a magical mixture of a murder mystery and an old-fashioned Western, set in the California desert. It’s also a heartwarming, epic story of one family that spans the centuries. Read it today – you won’t soon forget it!”
– Matt Witten, author of Killer Story
Average rating from 147 members
Mystery, science fiction and an old time western blend with a police procedural in Calico, a sure fire bestseller by the talented Lee Goldberg. Banished to the Barstow desert after a career flameout in Los Angeles, detective Beth McDade is puzzled. A terrified homeless man has run into the path of an RV and been killed. The only clues to his identity are clothes made in the 1800s. An extinct grizzly bear has attacked a camper. A freak lightening storm has caused a multi-car accident after a dislodged boulder dropped to the highway. Organized home invaders are robbing vacant vacation homes. And how would a century old corpse have dental implants? And in the boom town of Calico, during a silver mining craze, Ben Cartwright begins a career as a saloon chef.
Compelling, unputdownable, spellbinding and riveting describe this powerful tour-de-force by award winning author Goldberg. It’s a totally unique idea. Thank you, Lee Goldberg. I would read appliance manuals if you wrote them. 5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley, Severn House and Lee Goldberg for this ARC.
I love Lee Goldberg’s atmospheric descriptions of wherever he sets his stories, but I am going to challenge him on his description of Peggy Sue’s Diner in middle of nowhere Yermo, California as “cheesy”! No! It’s enormously amusing, including the dinosaurs. And what about the huge ice cream sundae shaped Eddie World building? The book is called “Calico” which is a real dusty ghost town north of Barstow, a town where I-15 intersects with the end of I-40. 40 takes you through old west Route 66 territory like Kingman, Winslow, Flagstaff, while 15 delivers you to Las Vegas or Los Angeles. The area is a bit of a historic triangle. The Barstow based characters like Deputy Sheriff Beth McDade seem like they would prefer to be anywhere else, especially not in a section known as “weird California.”
There are two storylines:
The first tale is Deputy Beth’s investigation into two dead men: One unidentified man ran into the path of a recreational van and his clothes (and body clues) are straight out of the old west; and the other is a body with 100 year old bones discovered in an unearthed 1900s grave but the skeleton has 21st century titanium plates and dental implants. That forensic discovery quickly reveals that the coffin body seems to belong to Owen Slader, who went missing while driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles the same night the other man died. As Beth surmises “Motor Home Man seems to have stepped out of the 1800s and while Slader stepped into the past.” As she investigates, there’s an apparent unfriendly effort to stymie her at every turn, and she gets “X-Files” vibes all the way.
The second story follows what really happened to Owen Slader, which turns into an engrossing story about the California silver rush and booming/receding western economies and…the prime directive. I’m not going to spoil the story, but trust me, it’s an amazingly entangled story in two different centuries that comes with enough twists to keep you turning pages as fast as possible.
One of the reasons I love Goldberg is his ability to get me invested in his main characters — decent people who have flaws, but who you reliably trust. Added bonus: some very funny unexpected touches — Owen’s assumed name and the name of his restaurant. You’ll have to read this to find out.
Thank you to Severn House/Canongate and NetGalley for a free advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review!
Literary Pet Peeve Checklist:
Green Eyes (only 2% of the real world, yet it seems like 90% of all fictional females): NO Only a couple blue eye color references.
Horticultural Faux Pas (plants out of season or growing zones, like daffodils in autumn or bougainvillea in Alaska): NO Goldberg does a great job describing the geography and landscape of the area (I can attest to this, thanks whiling time away at the Eddie World Tesla chargers.
I've always liked most of Lee Goldberg's stuff, but I thought with the Eve Ronin series he really came into his own. The California cop novel is a peculiarly American art form, and a lot of well-known writers have practiced the form in ways that ranged from competent to brilliant. The Eve Ronin series propelled Lee Goldberg to the top of the heap. If it didn't make him the greatest practitioner of the California cop novel ever, then it absolutely established him as one of two or three greatest I ever read.
So when I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of CALICO, I couldn't wait to dive in. A new California cop novel from Lee Goldberg? Bring it on!
Then I started reading it, and about a third of the way in I screamed, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?
This is like no California cop novel ever written. I'm convinced Goldberg dreamed it up while suffering through the delirium from a bad bout of malaria. Or maybe he woke up in a Tijuana cat house with a three-day growth of beard, a dozen empty tequila bottles, and no memory of anything but the novel he had plotted out in his head.
However it was that CALICO happened, thank God it did. It's an absolutely jaw-dropping genre mashup that no one who reads it will ever forget. I only hope Goldberg has enough left in the tank after launching this sneak attack on all that is holy in crime fiction not to be forced to give up writing and retire now.
Come on, Lee. I'm already jonesing for the next one. But this time... uh, maybe go a little easier on the tequila, huh?
Thank you NetGalley and Severn House for the copy of Calico by Lee Goldberg. This is the most imaginative and intricate book I have read in a long time! It’s best to go in not knowing too much and just letting the story unfold. I loved the ethical and moral dilemmas the characters faced. Beth was a great character, flawed and real. It goes without saying that the writing was great and engaging. If you want an intriguing read, don’t miss this one! 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
Calico by Lee Goldberg – 5 Stars
Publisher: Severn House
Calico is a magical unique mix of past and present. It is a current day mystery combined with an old western adventure. Movement between past and present flows smoothly making time travel almost believable. There are interesting characters, history, romance, humor, science and surprises flawlessly woven together into an entertaining story.
I have been a fan of Lee Goldberg’s books for some time. This is my favorite.
What can I say about this book and Lee Goldberg that hasn't already been said by much more authoritative and influential people than me? What more can I add besides, "Ditto!"?
Calico is a bit of a departure from Goldberg's usual fare, but not by much. If you consider Goldberg's usual fare to be tightly constructed plots with incredible characters and impeccable research, then Calico is exactly in line with everything else he's written.
I'm not usually one for anything supernatural. And I'm generally not a fan of westerns or historical fiction in general. But I love a good mystery and I love Lee Goldberg. This book is all of the above, and I loved it. Couldn't stop reading, couldn't put it down, got grumpy at anyone who interrupted me LOVED it. The only times I did stop were to google facts about Calico Ghost Town in attempts to find the line between fact and fiction (for my own curiosity's sake). That's how blurred the lines were at times, and THAT is the mark of excellent research and storytelling.
You can read the plot summary elsewhere. You can read reviews from super stars elsewhere. The only thing I need to say is READ THE BOOK. You won't regret it.
I am a huge fan of Lee Goldberg’s Eve Ronan police procedural series and when I read the description of this book it sounded very similar. Boy was I wrong! But in a good way. It started out as I expected. Like Ronan. The main character here, Beth McDade, is a former LAPD detective whose career ended in scandal. The only position that she could find was as a deputy in the Mojave Desert town of Barstow, California where the joke is that the interstate only goes one way… away.
The story begins as Beth is called on to investigate the deaths of two men on the same night. The first was a seemingly crazy homeless man who ran out in front of a motorhome. In the second a man traveling from Las Vegas home to Los Angeles disappeared in the same area, only have his skeleton turn up a day or two later in a hundred year old coffin. The ancient bones seemed to match the coffin, but the titanium implants were the very latest technology.
At this point the book turns into two parallel storylines. Beth’s investigation of the two deaths and the story of Owen Slader’s life in an 1882 silver mining camp called Calico that had existed in the mountains above modern day Barstow. It’s a fascinating story rich in period details of what life was really like in the Old West.
As someone who loves police procedurals, “The X-Files” and the history of the old west I really loved this book, especially the way the author skillfully merged the two storylines in a way that kept me guessing as to how it all fit together. There's even an amzaing love story. Thanks to Severn House and NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to Severn House and NetGalley for providing this digital ARC for review.
Unlike many of the other reviewers I had not read any of Lee Goldbergs books before but the name was familiar and the blurb was intriguing.
I'm very glad I requested and was approved because it was a really enjoyable book - a mixture of crime and Back to the Future.
A 21st century detective, banished from LA for a violation of dept. policy is rooted in the desert when a seemingly simple accident on the highway leads to a very complex case which stretches for more than a century.
Beth Dade's character is refreshing and there is, in general, a thread of very strong and believable female characters. The author's continual referencing of her sex drive is a little creepy, a couple of references would've established the character trait and allowed for its role in the narrative.
I'd love to see her in a series but I'm not sure where she could go from here though the author did leave some leeway for her and a colleague to take part in a further exploration of the events in the novel and their repercussions. Fingers crossed.
What I loved about this book is that the landscape and the real life geography of the area play a real part. I was ticked to find many of the places - towns, military bases, observatories, gas stations, etc. easily findable on Google Maps and the desert and its features play a really key part in everything that happens.
The other main characters are likeable throughout and although the denouement when it comes is fairly simplistic, in these days of real life horror and strife it was a welcome relief.
Let me say first that I discovered Lee Goldberg through NetGalley, and he's quickly become one of my top favorite authors. I don't normally like cop dramas, but his settings take place in SoCal and are so descriptive, and his characters are highly flawed but very likable. He also gives women the lead role in most of his books, so what's not to love!?
I started reading the book without knowing the plot so imagine my surprise when a few chapters into the latest suspense/crime novel, I realized I was reading what I can only describe as a SciFi/time travel novel. I'm not a SciFi fan and I think a lesser author would have me putting the book down, but I was so drawn in, I couldn't wait to keep reading.
I loved the back-and-forth between the present day and the 1880s, and I loved the ending. This may well be the best Lee Goldberg book yet.
I am a big fan of Lee Goldberg from his Eve Ronin series and hes on my list of authors to read automatically when a new book comes out. I was excited to get approved for an ARC of Calico and I thought I was going to read another great police procedural. Boy was I wrong!
In Calico, Golberg delvers the genre mashup you never knew you wanted. It starts as a police procedural with an unexplainable accidental death and then jumps into time travel and government conspiracies in a very good way. I loved the parallel stories and how they came together in the end. The details of what it would be like to be dropped from modern day into the wild west were very well done (hint: sewage treatment and personal hygiene are severely lacking and only certain skill sets are transferrable).
The pacing was great throughout and kept me up reading late for 2 days straight. Highly recommended if you like police procedurals and/or scifi and want a great mashup story.
Sometimes I speed read through the last quarter of a novel to get it over with, and onto the next one. Rarely do I slow down because I enjoy it so much that I do not want it to conclude. Calico by Lee Goldberg was one of those rare treats. The book kept delivering, and how I savored.
The author surprised me with this one. I always enjoy his work, which are usually police procedural/private eye/master thief stories, but this one has a more supernatural element. Handled by a less experienced author Calico might not have worked, but in Goldberg’s talented hands he creates an enjoyable, even plausible plot.
Beth is a Barstow California Sherrif’s homicide detective. Once in the more promising location of Los Angeles, she is now in this comparative armpit of the world, due to poor judgement and decision making of former superiors. The story opens up with her investigating the death of an apparent homeless person who ran in front of a moving motor home.
Soon there are other events, the sudden disappearance of a man who was last seen driving through the area on the same night, one in which there were strange lighting strike explosions from a nearby military base.
As the detective story evolves with stranger clues that are developed over the case, the reader is provided another storyline taking place in the same area in 1882 when nearby Calico was a struggling to exist mining town. Alternating between the modern day investigation and western story is satisfyingly woven by Lee Goldberg. Frankly, I do not usually care for mixed genres in the books I read, but soon the author provided threads connecting the two timelines and I became hooked on each.
As I wrote, this novel quickly became a page turner until I did not want it to end. Lee Goldberg’s prowess as an author truly shines in Calico, and I heartily recommend this fabulous novel.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ - Calico - Lee Goldberg
PUBLICATION DATE - 7th NOVEMBER 2023
Lucky enough to receive an ARC of this unique, compelling read and so temptingly close to being a 5 star book!
Two timelines, where the Old West meets 21st Century America - both gripping in their own ways as the battle to uncover the truth unfolds.
It took me a little while to get into the read - with the sci-fi angle not part of my normal go-to material - but once I’d got my head around the concept and the possibilities that this might produce, I was hooked and in for the ride.
Lee Goldberg paints vivid pictures - and recreates scenes which are all consuming, steeped in historic detail and full of life. As the book progresses, the page turns get quicker - and by the end of it, I was dying to find out how it would eventually play out.
Unusual, riveting - and certainly one to add to the Christmas list for 2023!
Beth McDade is a detective in a small town in the middle of the Mohave Desert when she catches a case of a pedestrian struck and killed by a vehicle. The man, who appears homeless, is dressed in clothing that would be appropriate for someone in the 1800’s, and that’s just the start of the story! Calico was the name of an old mining town, close to where the accident occurred, and it’s the jumping off point for this delightful mashup - part mystery, part Western, part sci-fi, that is highly entertaining and definitely unique, and will stand out amongst the cookie-cutter plots that we’re used to. There’s tons to like about this book, from the likable but flawed protagonist, to the characters in 1800’s Calico, and a fantastic storyline that will totally engulf you. Another can’t miss book from Lee Goldberg. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I loved the unapologetically savvy Beth McDade, a detective fighting her way back from a hard time in her life. She just wants to do her job, find answers for the dead bodies. But it seems nobody else wants her investigation to get anywhere close to the truth. No matter how many times Beth is warned off, she keeps searching, even when the evidence leads her to a conclusion she can't quite believe.
The authentic desert location is is so well written, I felt like I'd been there. You really can't say much more without spoilers. Calico didn't keep me up late, but I woke up this morning thinking about it and read two hours before breakfast. Highly recommended!
Lee Goldberg has become on of my most favorite Authors and in between Malibu Burning and Calico,
he has spoiled us all with such interesting, well written stories making the wait for the next
books seem even longer!
I just loved the attention to detail in the desert locale, a part of California even most natives are not
familiar with due to the remote location, long tedious drive from civilization and nearly nothing to
do upon arrival.
Until Mr Goldberg stopped by with the most interesting and detailed time travel tale one could
possibly imagine. It’s really well researched, and he’s clear on which places are real, and which
are from his active imagination-keeping the reader fully engaged and perhaps thinking a bit ahead,
anxious to learn the next secret.
When people disappear while driving East, and find themselves more than lost-lost a century back,
things start to get weird, as the kids would say. And when a ‘fallen from Grace,’ Detective lands in
Calico, the only place she could work after a brush with indiscretion, the cast of folks in this suspense
begin to appear, and on occasion, disappear. The two main characters do a fine job carrying this really
fun book through to the conclusion, which is where I leave; questions and all.
This is time travel, suspense, love, and money, ALL in one book. This book kept me trying to carve
out time to read with little regard for other activities. I also spent a great deal of time thinking about
how I would take this story to its fruition. It turned out that I was patient with my time and let the
brilliant Author wrap things up with a lovely bow and I am completely satisfied with the conclusion.
This book is a treat!
My sincere thanks to Severn House and NetGalley for providing this download title in exchange
for my honest review.
Detective Beth McSlut likes to sleep around which is what continues to get her in trouble. Wrong guys and circumstances create a blend of personal defeats. On the upside, this is mere character (or lack of) development and tends to enhance the story line. It is too bad we never get a sense of what she looks like from the author’s perspective.
Speaking of authors, this one is good. The 1880's developmental aspect of this novel surprised me. At first, I thought, "ah fuk, life in the past" and almost DNF'd it on the spot. Glad I pushed on. There were some lapses in the development of Owen and Wendy. Owen suddenly becomes Dudley Dooright from a recently recovered self-absorbed gambler/partier. Wendy manifests the same stalwart personality as Owen with a dollop of common sense and a hot body. Ho-hum.
You are either going to like the constant play on synchronicity or not. I see it as a handy plot device (cheat). If there are subsequent novels to this one, where McSlut gets cast back in time or fights incursions from the past, then I am all for it. This way the balancing of the temporal can be defined.
I love the Eve Ronin series and was excited to see something new from Lee Goldberg. I started out not being fond of Beth McDade, but she grew on me. I loved the Owen and Gwen storyline, and how they traversed their circumstances with optimism and humor. Both the police procedural (the medical examiner is hysterical!) and Calico storylines are engaging and keep you invested in what strange events occurred and how it all ends.
Thank you to NetGalley, Severn House, and Lee Goldberg for the eARC.
I came across Lee Goldberg when I found his book Gated Prey. I read the sleeve and was hooked. It was my favorite book of his as I then read Lost Hills, Bone Canyon, and then Movieland. One of the greatest things about Gated Prey besides the story was it was under 300 pages. Fast forward to Calico. When I saw the cover and saw Lee Goldberg wrote it I was excited. Even though it was over 300 pages, I figured I ought to give it a read since it's Lee Goldberg and I love the Eve Ronin series.
The book started off amazingly. It began in Barstow and Yermo which are in San Bernardino County, I lived in Yermo for 2 months and then in Barstow for 5 years. The way Lee described the intersection of Yermo Road and Ghost Town Rd was spot on. I've been on both those roads hundreds of times due to my job. It made reading feel like I was there again but in the story. I've been to almost every place he described in the book multiple times I.E. MCLB Barstow Yermo Annex, Jack In The Box, Peggy Sues, Fort Irwin, Barstow, the courthouse, and the Sheriff's Barstow station. I was disappointed he didn't include Burger Den in the book, as it's on Yermo Road just a bit past the Yermo Post Office.
I really enjoyed the way the story began with the incidents that started the book. I was very disappointed to see the book go back in time. I'm not a fan of time-traveling anything and still am not after reading this book. I read the first chapter from the late 1880s to give it a chance and it was good. After that, it just went downhill with boring details about the lives of the people in the 1880s. It was filled with filler content to keep the story longer than it had to be. I began to skim through the chapters in the past to get back into the present part of the story which kept me interested. The chapters in the 1880s should've all been at least half the size of details.
This book will be a real treat for those who love time-traveling books as the detailed research Lee did was very impressive, as mentioned at the end of the book. When Lee decides to write a book, he does his homework. I'm able to say that as the details he had about Barstow and Yermo were all spot on, exactly as it is. I would give Calico a read if you're OK with almost 1/4 of the story being in the 1880s. If you're not OK with that, I'd suggest giving the Lee Goldberg Eve Ronin series a try as they're all in the present day and all amazing books. Start with Lost Hills.
Lee Goldberg’s Calico might be harder to summarize and review than even Louise Penny’s books. There’s not a good way to describe this book without spoilers, but I’m going to try.
Beth McDade is a former LAPD detective. After the scandal she was involved in, the only job she can get is in the Mojave Desert town of Barstow, where the first responders all hang out at a rundown bar. That’s the dead end for all of them. In 1957, the town that was once an active stop on Route 66 began a long decline when the interstate was built.
Beth was in bed at 2 AM on Feb. 2, 2019 when everything happened after a lightning strike. A naked man ran in front of a motor home and was killed. A man on the way from Las Vegas to California disappeared. There was a multi-car accident on the interstate, and there was some sort of event at both Marine bases, but no one will tell Beth what happened. She’s sent to deal with the man killed by the motor home. But, that’s just the start of her confusion. She and Amanda, the local coroner, are caught up in investigating deaths that could change the future.
I can’t talk about this engrossing crime novel with two timelines. I can talk about Beth McDade, a sex addict who drinks too much and lives in filth. Her lifestyle corresponds with her day-to-day life in Barstow. When she begins her investigation, she’s a cop who just doesn’t care. But, Amanda pushes her to accept what she learns, no matter how unlikely. In the end, Beth changes. She does her job, and discovers the truth. No matter how implausible the truth, she does uncover it. It’s satisfying to see two strong women, Amanda and Beth, take on the establishment.
This was a great story! I loved it so much. I am not a sci-fi fan, so wasn't sure I'd like this time travel story, but it was so well done and believable, that I couldn't put it down. The research on Calico in the 1880's and the desert life back then was great. The present day story was good too, loved Detective McDade, hope to see more. Highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a very different mystery.
I have read numerous books by this author, and I have loved all of them, this one is no exception, a very good story that had me flipping the pages as fast as possible. Beth, a policewoman in Barstow CA, is called out late one night to an accident, a man has been hit by a motor home, which killed him. The unusual thing was he was dressed in very old clothes, was very dirty and after the medical examiner took a look at him, he was also suffering from a disease that hasn't been seen since the 1800's. A few days later Beth is called out to another scene, this time the body is in a casket that had been buried on land that was being developed, the casket was over a 100 years old, the body though had a metal implant in the arm and dental work that didn't exist back then. The story goes back and forth in time, to Owen who was on his way to visit his daughter, when he drove through an opening that appeared and was suddenly in the desert. In present day Beth is trying to piece together what happened, and quickly determines that she may be dealing with a time travelling situation, as difficult as that is to believe. I really enjoyed this book, the author put a lot of effort into research (which he details at the end), There is a bit of everything in this book, police procedural, conspiracy, sci fi, and a bit of what life was like living in the desert in the 1800's (not clean, and not pleasant smelling). I would recommend. Thanks to #Netgalley and #Severn House for the ARC.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review "Calico", the new standalone thriller/mystery/western from Lee Goldberg, author of the 'Eve Ronin' series (which I love and have read all).
Now, you might think that that's a strange way to describe a book... but you'd be wrong!
Welcome to Barstow, California in the middle of the desert, where nothing much happens other than the usual petty crime. Beth McDade is a Homicide Detective in exile from LA, where she left in disgrace - but that's really not germane to the story other than it never should have happened.
On February 2, 2029 four seemingly-unconnected things happened: there was an explosion at a military installation in the desert, there was a massive lightning storm (but no thunder or rain), a vagrant was run down and killed by an elderly couple driving through Barstow in their RV (to be known henceforth as Motor Home Man), and Owen Slader - a wannabe chef and social media influencer - disappeared off the map completely while driving through the area on the way to his usual visitation with his daughter.
Detective McDade is tasked with investigating both Motor Home Man's demise and Owen Slader's disappearance.
Shortly thereafter, there is the discovery of a body in a random grave at the site of an upcoming development.
An autopsy on Motor Home Man is puzzling to say the least: he appears to be dressed in 19th Century clothing and was suffering from all manner of diseases; and his body appears to be older than thought possible; and the autopsy on the bones found in the grave reveal two things: the bones are very old and they have modern-day implants and dental work.
I'm not going to go any further into things, but let's just say that this book does something I've never seen before: bends (no, actually breaks) literary genres: it's part police procedural, part western, part conspiracy theory and part time-travel. You might think that that would be extremely confusing - but it's not!
In the deft hands (and radically twisted mind) of Lee Goldberg, it all just seems to work; and it seems plausible.
There are a number of sub-plots which will keep the reader interested, and some very amusing segues. But on the whole I would just say, read the book. If you don't love it, fine - but I think you will.
Mystery, science fiction and an old-time western blend with a police procedural in Calico, a sure-fire bestseller by the talented Lee Goldberg. Banished to the Barstow desert after a career flameout in Los Angeles, detective Beth McDade is puzzled. A terrified homeless man has run into the path of an RV and been killed. The only clues to his identity are clothes made in the 1800s. An extinct grizzly bear has attacked a camper. A freak lightning storm has caused a multi-car accident after a dislodged boulder dropped to the highway. Organized home invaders are robbing vacant vacation homes. And how would a century old corpse have dental implants? And in the boom town of Calico, during a silver mining craze, Ben Cartwright begins a career as a saloon chef.
Compelling, unputdownable, spellbinding and riveting describe this powerful tour-de-force by award winning author Goldberg. It’s a totally unique idea. Thank you, Lee Goldberg. I would read appliance manuals if you wrote them. 5 stars.
This book has it all. Mystery, time travel and a bit of the old West. Beth is a policewoman in the Barstow desert when a homeless man runs in front of an RV and gets killed. Turns out he is wearing clothes from the 1800 hundreds. Another man disappeared driving down the highway. It all weaves together in a very good book. I highly recommend this book.
"My favorite Lee Goldberg novel yet! CALICO alternates between contemporary investigation, intriguing sciences, and fascinating history. Each aspect is told with a stellar sense of place, engaging characters, and the kind of real yet snappy dialogue readers have come to expect. Highly recommend!"
When I picked up this book, I was prepared for a great police procedural, like the previous books I had read by Lee Goldberg. WOW... I was wrong! This was a wonderfully written book that encompasses a huge electrical storm, missing person and a man that was hit by a RV at the same time, on the same highway. What the heck has happened? This book was so wonderfully written with a vivid description of the historical scenes. I ended up really enjoying this book.
Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for allowing me to preview this great book.
I’ve been a fan of author Lee Goldberg for a long time. Between his nonfiction books about television (which all TV lovers should read) and his novels, I’ve read close to 20 of his books.
His latest, CALICO, is probably my favorite of all of them.
Golberg combines multiple genres in CALICO. It’s partly a mystery, partly a western, and partly science fiction. It has a very unique and clever storyline. Plus, there’s a very nice mixture of drama and action, with some nice humor sprinkled in here and there.
I’ve never read anything else quite like it before. I mean that in the best possible of ways.
CALICO is one of those special kinds of books that is probably most enjoyable for readers if they don’t know too much about the plot before they begin reading it. Therefore, I’m not going to say much more about it, because I don’t want to spoil any of the many great twists and surprises in the storyline.
If you’re looking for a very entertaining read, you can’t go wrong with CALICO. I’m already looking forward to reading it again.
NOTE: I received an advanced reading copy of the book from the publisher, Severn House, via NetGalley.
Wow, what a wild ride this one was and in two dimensions. Calico by Lee Goldberg is as usually well written but he took me by surprise with this great story of travel. It was not what I expected and at first I was a little doubtful but it turned out to be a rivetting story that I had trouble putting down. Such a well researched story and wonderful characters and the story, the story is intruiging to put it mildly. I haven't read everything by this author but so far everything I have read is great. I highly recommend that you try this book when it's out in stores in early November. I give a big thank you to Severn House and also Netgalley for letting me read this advance copy.
It is February 2019 as Calico by Lee Goldberg opens and Beth McDade is in Barstow, California. Not that she ever wanted to be there, but in the here and now, she is doing time in exile. Things went bad for her in Los Angeles. There was a media driven firestorm and she had to leave the police department in disgrace.
After the scandal hit the media fan, her name and reputation in the minds of many meant that it was almost impossible to get a job. She finally did with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department and is a detective. She is assigned to the substation in Barstow and is on call almost always, even when off duty. It means that even when she has spent the previous few hours drinking at a local place where everybody knowns your business, and she is currently in bed with a man from the bar, she still gets called out to bodies.
Like when a couple in a RV hit somebody who ran out in the road in front of them. That just happened outside of Peggy Sue’s in nearby Yerno. A roadside diner, it is part of string of small places clustered there at the highway, and is the last stop for gas or a remnant of civilization until one gets to Baker, about fifty miles to the east across yet more desert.
The deceased might have been homeless considering his clothing and general appearance. The couple claim that there was lightning storm in the sky and then a boom from the nearby Marine base. The driver looked over to see what was happening and when he looked back, the guy was screaming and running right out in the road in front of him. The husband and wife are very upset.
According to Sheriff’s Deputy Willits, who was first on the scene, the breath analyzer indicates neither one has been drinking. He is ready to write it off as an accident.
While Deputy Willits is sure it was an accident and Deputy Beth McDade would tend to agree, she does have some questions. Why was he running across the parking lot of the diner in terror seconds before impact. Why does he have some items on his person that have not been seen in decades? Why did the Security Chief for the Marine Corps Logistic Base nearby, Bill Knox, showed up on scene, ask her some questions, and then bald faced lied to her.
This is the first of several cases, a couple of which are interlinked, that become her focus in Calico by Lee Goldberg. This police procedural features adult language, adult situations including sexual intimacy, and is not for everyone. It is also very complicated and well worth your time. Cases from the past and the present are worked by a detective that does her job and more as she pursues answers and justice.
This reviewer is deliberately ignoring a major chunk of the story as to not cause any spoilers. This is a read that will bend your mind and is well worth your time. Calico by Lee Goldberg is very good.
My reading copy came by way of Severn House and a NetGalley ARC. There was no expectation of a review. The book releases on November 7th.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2023
I’ve never read anything from this author, but I am familiar with some of the shows he’s worked. I loved them, so I definitely wanted to read this. Man is it weird to read a book set in the area you grew up! I’ve never in my life read a book that mentions Barstow or Victorville, and I read a lot. (Describing the meth labs and gang members is spot on. Try being the tiny nerdy girl in that setting.) This book was so entertaining! It made me think of Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter if it was part western. Really well-done and kept me interested until the very end. I would be so happy if there were a sequel!
Huge thanks to Severn House and NetGalley for sending me this ARC for review! All of my reviews are given honestly!
This was my first book by this author, but it was a great read, so it won’t be my last. I loved a good police procedural and this book delivered. The writing well was developed and on point and wove elements of historical fiction into the story. The descriptions were wonderful, and I could picture the entire book in my head as I was reading. I always have a lot of fun with that. I enjoyed that this book was told from current and past timelines. This book has plenty of drama, and the twists and reveals were wonderful.
Thank you so much to the publisher and netgalley for this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
This modern-day police procedural turns up an unexpected link to a mining town’s past, and the rest of the narrative alternates between past and present. Goldberg is an expert at well-paced novels featuring homicide detectives, so you know you’re in good hands, but this one takes a different turn. The chapters taking place in the past are detailed and entertaining (though the repeated references to bodily functions were definitely excessive). If you’ve watched enough TV, the general idea here will be familiar. You have to be willing to play the game and suspend disbelief. Surprisingly, this is easier for the overall premise than it is for some trivial day-to-day stuff.
There are some cute twists on the old TV trope; for example, the old-timers use a clever signaling method that is very funny. The ending is fun and satisfying on all points but one: we never find out where that one guy bought his improbably durable lightning cable. I’d like to switch brands.
Thanks to Netgalley and Severn House for a digital advance review copy.
Calico by Lee Goldberg is the story of Detective Beth McDade, set in Barstow California, and her most recent homicide case, a seemingly homeless/indigent man hit by a mobile home on the night of a thunder and lightning storm and a large explosion at the nearby military base. The Mojave Desert doesn’t seem like the best location for a life or a detective/crime story. Beth is visited by a previous acquaintance from the LAPD who is investigating the disappearance of a man last known to have been driving in the area of Barstow. Just as Beth’s investigation gets intriguing due to some odd results revealed by the coroner, the author takes back a hundred years or so to the mining town of Calico, not far from the present-day Barstow.
What promised to be a straightforward crime story set in an unusual location, now becomes a most intriguing and, at times, difficult to fathom story of time travel. The night of the storm, it seems, a rip in time appeared and at least one person traveled back in time and another traveled through the rip, forward in time. The story now lives in two times: Beth’s story, attempting to gather evidence to support her bizarre theory that the corpse dug up on a building site is that of the man from LA who was last seen just two weeks ago – and the story of that man’s life a hundred or so years ago in Barstow where he landed after falling through the rip in time.
The plot has been carefully constructed such that this story, unlike most time travel stories, feels plausible. The characters are sufficiently flawed to be real people that we can identify with and cheer for and they relate to each in what feels like a real manner without it feeling forced or deliberate.
Beth McDade, a detective with the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department investigates the death of someone who was hit and killed by a motor home and then of a body uncovered at a construction site. The coroner's report offers anomalies that involve when these individuals lived and died. A lightning storm, explosions from two area military bases and a particular day in February factor into the investigation. As McDade uncovers more that in all sense can't be possible, she runs into roadblocks intended to shut down her investigation and most likely ruin her career. The history books of the area offer more clues as she has to consider that the impossible is possible. In Calico time runs in more than one direction.
Rips in time and the idea of time travel make this a thrilling read. Beth McDade has the intelligence to connect the dots and to see the connections that are a hundred years apart. Add the humorous nods (Denny's, H. G. Wells, Gilligan's Island theme song, Ben Cartwright, etc.), and this is Lee Goldberg at his best.
I will be recommending this book. A compelling adventure!
I appreciated the research that was involved. A list of material is offered in the author's note and acknowledgements.
Thanks to Severn House, Lee Goldberg and NetGalley for this ARC.
Beth McDade is a down on her luck cop investigating a case of possible time travel. Owen Slader is traveling through town in his Mercedes and vanishes. 100 year old bones are found with aspects relating to the present.
This was an awesome read different from the other mysteries I’ve read this year. It held my attention and had me quickly flipping the pages late into the night. Thanks NetGalley and Severn House for this ARC that will be released November 7,2023!
When I first started reading this I thought it was just going to be another novel about a disillusioned female cop out of favour with her colleagues. But I rapidly became hooked as Beth becomes heavily involved in a case that has mysterious links to lives in the 19th century. Her determination to bring closure to the bereaved family against all odds makes for a rollercoaster ride taking in the past and present as the truth is painstakingly revealed.
A broken career cop in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but time on her hands, doesn't sound like a great plot for a book, but once I was in to the storyline it really took off.
It has all the usual plot lines, a secret agenda from the Armed Forces trying to keep things quiet after a scientific accident, a cop that doesn't know when to quit and for me a quirky off beat humour running through the book.
A great read. And I can see a thread for a sequel too.
Lee Goldberg has chosen an excellent location for this genre crossover novel. Homicide detective Beth McDade works in Barstow (San Bernardino Co) located on the banks of the Mojave river with the Calico mountains behind where the ghost town of Calico lies, an old mining area. Beth is sent to investigate a fatal accident outside a roadside diner, the victim killed during a lightning storm. Who is the victim? Why do aspects of the autopsy make no sense? This is just the start as a man from LA disappears in very odd circumstances, there’s a robbery and also explosions on military bases. It’s all happening in Calico, how are these seemingly random events connected, if at all? Beth is on the case.
First of all, a big shout out for that location which I especially enjoy. The author creates a terrific atmosphere as it is very well described, it’s bleak, desolate and dry and hence a perfect spot for what transpires. At times, you do feel as if you are a fly on the wall looking down on all the characters in the various locations. It’s very clear that some extensive research has been done into the old mining town of the 1880s, it’s so authentic you could almost smell it!!
Lee Goldberg is a very visual writer and that’s what makes his books such fun and highly entertaining. Do I buy into this mash up of genres? Nooooo, but do I enjoy it? Oh yes, and that for me is the main thing. I like the inclusion of movies and TV shows which are used creatively and wittily and I suspect are probably the inspiration behind some of what occurs. The plot thickens, the mystery deepens, it’s told at a good pace and there’s rarely a dull moment and it’s a definite page turner. Somehow or other, the author manages to weave the timelines together cohesively and I applaud him for that!
The characterisation is good, Beth reminds me of an indomitable frontiers woman as she definitely has that spirit. She is flawed, but feels very authentic and likeable. I also like Amanda, the medical examiner, she is a hoot! It’s always colourful when she’s on the pages.
Overall, this is a quirky fun novel with plenty of smiles, so just rein in your disbelief and go with the flow for a very entertaining ride.
With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Severn House for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.
Calico by Lee Goldberg The story if filled with interesting people, history, romance, humor, and science (fiction and real). A truly unique blend of an old wild west adventure combined with a present day mystery. The shift between past and present is flawless making time travel entirely conceivable. An exceptionally entertaining and one of a kind story.
Thank you to the author, Lee Goldberg, Severn House and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview the book.
A wonderful mix of crime procedural, western and time-travelling scifi. The story is compelling and successfully manages to entertain you, amuse you and even make you think. The plot is well-thought, characters are fleshed out and you're constantly wondering what will happen next. A 2023 favorite, no doubt.
This book has everything that I love in a good read. There’s a great plot, one which you have no idea how everything can be tied up into a believable ending, a bit of romance, police investigation, the old West and engaging characters. There’s also been some really good research done, particularly for the area around Calico, the scientific areas needed and a really large dose of imagination. Loved it!
I liked the fact that there are two distinct stories being told, Beth’s and Owens. Beth is an interesting character, flawed, determined, dogged and likeable, except maybe by the baddies she comes across. She’s had her own share of bad luck, by the way she was treated when working as a Dectective in the LAPD, but has fought back, not letting it make her so embittered that she can’t do her job. Owen has his own charm too, and is more resilient than he thinks he is, passionate about his daughter Nicole, and determined to try to let her know how much he loves her. I love the nods to the present day that are used in the late 1890s, some made me laugh out loud, and also how mind boggling upsetting the future from the past can be. All in all a must-read.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
I must say that Calico by Lee Goldberg was not what I expected, but in a good way. Going from a good police procedural to a time travel story, the history of the town of Calico, CA at two different times in its life was a really interesting way to write a mystery. Between the travails of Beth McDade, a jaded police detective relegated to the California desert around Barstow and the unexplained explosions on the military base nearby and the unexplained deaths and disappearances of various characters, this book will keep you guessing and wanting to finish!
Great combination of a police procedural, sci-fi time travel story, and Western. Owen's transformation into Ben as he is sent from 2019 back to 1880's California is delightful. Beth's modern-day investigation into what happened to him is riveting as she slowly puts together the pieces to discover the unthinkable has happened.
Vivid, immersive and endlessly fascinating, Calico is an unforgettable investigative thriller that will burrow into your brain and set up shop before completely blowing your mind. Lee Goldberg has crafted a tale that is as engrossing and inventive as anything you’ll read this year. A creative novel that you won’t be able to stop thinking about for a long time.
In Barstow, California a vagrant is killed when hit by a RV in the middle of the night. At the same time, a man driving through town on the interstate disappears without a trace. These separate incidents are given to ex-LAPD detective turned San Bernardino County detective Beth McDade to investigate. As she gathers clues and evidence, a connection between the two cases arises and ties back to events in Calico, a small mining town from the late-1800s. Faced with shocking revelations that defy logic, Beth must tread carefully to unlock the entire unbelievable mystery before she is shut down by powerful forces that will do anything to keep the situation from becoming public.
I lost sleep over Calico. Yes, it was incredibly difficult to put down and so I read late into the night. But that’s not all. I just couldn’t stop thinking about the overall concept. It opened a Pandora's box of what-if questions that got stuck in my head. And when I did fall asleep, I dreamt about the book and woke up thinking about it even more. And even a week later I still can’t shake it. Because Calico is more than a police procedural or crime novel. Way more. And the method by which the story is told, switching back and forth between present day Barstow and Calico from the late-1800s, makes it damn near impossible to stop reading as the intrigue increases and the story sinks it’s hooks into you deeper and deeper. You get absolutely invested in certain characters and have a burning desire to know what happens next, asking yourself over and over how you would respond if put in similar situations. I would say more but won’t dare risk spoiling the experience for readers. Best to go into this one knowing as little as possible.
Calico is alluring and entrancing. Extraordinarily thought-provoking and riveting. Memorable and mind bending. Something exceedingly different from the typical thriller. A fantastic book expertly crafted by Lee Goldberg and gifted to readers.
To be honest I requested this book after reading a few good reviews – without checking the book description. I was enjoying the book till I came across the words ‘time travel’ and then realised my mistake. I don’t like reading anything about time travel! I wondered if this was one book I wouldn’t finish – but I did, and I loved it! I found it fascinating, and absolutely love Detective Beth McDade. A very imaginative and well-researched story and I’m sure it’s going to be a huge hit. Thanks to NeGalley and the publishers for allowing me to read this early copy.
On February 2nd 2019, Beth McDade is called to an accident on a deserted road. The victim, a man dressed like a miner from the 1800s has been hit by an RV. He came off second best. Beth assumes the victim is an actor from a nearby tourist attraction, but a closer inspection of his clothes and his teeth suggests otherwise. On the same night, a man, Owen Slader, disappears while driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles to visit his daughter. The last ping from his mobile phone shows he was on the same road. Two days later, the body of Owen Slader is discovered – in a one hundred-year-old coffin.
The story is told from two perspectives. We have Beth and her investigation to get to the truth of exactly what happened out there in the desert on that February night. Where did the miner come from, and where did Owen go? Then there is Owen’s story, who, thanks to some sort of tear in time and space, finds himself stuck in the 1880s.
Both storylines are compelling and honestly, I couldn’t flick the pages quick enough.
Many thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first book I've read by Lee Goldberg and I would definitely like to read more. Without giving away the plot, this is a genre bending tale with a strong, female lead - a randy detective with an axe to grind who gets pulled into a strange case which, come hell or high water, she just has to solve. Her story runs in parallel with that of a man trying to make sense of his past and how it might affect the future. It was full of twists and turns and I couldn't put it down. The sensory descriptions of life in a 19th century mining town were spot on and made me feel like I had been transported there. This novel would make a brilliant film. Thank you NetGalley for an advance copy of this book.
Very enjoyable mystery novel - well worth a look.
In many ways, this novel is a bit of nonsense but highly enjoyable nonsense at that. Beth is a detective investigating the circumstances in which a man is run over out on a Californian desert road and the disappearance of another man in the same area at the same time. Without giving too much away, these events are connected and her investigation uncovers some interesting and disturbing facts. There's a lot to enjoy in the book, including the characters and the original plot. I have not read any other books by Lee Goldberg but my curiosity has been piqued. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Calico by Lee Goldberg is a delightful surprise. Not at all what I expected - it was even better! A great genre mashup of suspense, mystery, and historical (Western) fiction with a touch of other things that you'll discover as you go. The book blurb for Calico is kind of vague so I decided to read just one chapter to get an idea of what it was all about. Then I decided to read just one more and, long story short, once I got going I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting - I couldn't put it down.
The storyline goes seamlessly back and forth between modern times and the 1880s. I'm going to tread very lightly here for fear of spoilers...
2019: Detective Beth McDade is a hot mess who has been exiled to a small desert community in the middle of nowhere. When she gets called in to investigate an old coffin found buried at a construction site she finds herself with more questions than answers. It seems to be somehow connected to the recent death of a homeless man who was killed when he inexplicably ran in front of an RV on the highway.
1882: Calico, a ghost town tourist attraction in Beth's time, is a lively mining community that's still growing when a mystery man comes to town and shakes things up; quickly making himself indispensable to several of the town's more prominent citizens.
What does one thing have to do with the other? That's where it all gets very tricky and mysterious.
Goldberg has a knack for writing flawed, fully dimensional characters that come to life on the page. He also writes the kind of strong, compelling female characters that even a grumpy old, hard-boiled detective fan like myself can appreciate (If you're not familiar with his Eve Ronin series, you're missing out). One of my favorite aspects of this novel was the way that every day life in the 1880s gets depicted without all the romantic and nostalgic notions usually associated with those "simpler times". It was hard living -- but author Goldberg still manages to infuse the story with a good deal of humor.
BOTTOM LINE: A great page-turning mystery with a jaw-dropping twist at the end.
I do love a good genre mash-up, but to specify which genres would give away too much - to get the most impact from this book it’s essential to avoid spoilers! I’ve loved this author’s Ian Ludlow and Eve Ronin series, and this starts out looking like another book about a tough jaded but dedicated female cop - then takes an intriguing turn with a 19th century timeline and highly likeable couple of characters making the best of difficult conditions. The mystery is in how they connect.
‘I don’t have to shoot you. You’ve already shot yourself. You have zero credibility. You got thrown out of the LAPD because you’re a drunken sex addict who can’t control herself. It’s only gotten worse since you arrived in Barstow.’
Beth McDade is a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy whose career stalled due to misogyny and double standards in the LAPD, and now tries to make the best of it as part of a small team of detectives covering the isolated towns between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. When called to investigate the death of an unidentified man run over by a motor home, she is puzzled by his autopsy findings and the fact that no one recognises him. Calico is a small abandoned town which became a local tourist attraction, but in 1882 it was a bustling fast growing silver mining settlement. Then an oddly dressed stranger arrives at the local saloon with an unusual proposition…
At the start of this, I thought it seemed too similar to the Eve Ronin books, and was dubious about Beth and her grubby hobby, but once I got an inkling of what was going on loved the twist and the sections set in the past. Goldberg is a former screenwriter/TV producer, and this shows in his scene descriptions and action sequences - this would make a brilliant TV series. Past Calico is vividly described - stench and all, and I liked all the classic Western tropes even if I don’t usually like Western stories. This was heading for five stars and a nomination for one of my books of the year, but I was a bit disappointed by some of the plot elements that were left unexplained. It’s unclear whether this is the start of a series which may rectify this - I do hope so, but in the meantime I’m rounding down from 4.5.
Thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for the ARC. I’m posting this honest review voluntarily.
Calico is published on November 7th.
Detective Beth McDade worked for the Los Angeles Police Department until she lost her badge for having sex with a junior officer. Beth is now with the sheriff's department in Barstow, California, a desert town where 'nobody wants to be.' In the 1800s, Barstow was a busy railroad hub for silver mining operations, but is now just a hot desert burg near a military base and a tourist attraction called the 'Calico Ghost Town' - a re-creation of the original town of Calico, with 'residents' and 'shopkeepers' dressed in period costumes.
As the story opens Beth is called to the scene of a late night accident near Peggy Sue's diner, a 50s-style eatery that looks like a giant jukebox surrounded by dinosaurs. Beth is told that an old man was killed by a motor home.
When Beth looks at CCTV footage of the incident, she observes the sky crackling with electricity, a loud blast, and a bright flash from the nearby Marine base. Then a terrified, disheveled old coot runs out of the darkness into the road, where he's mowed down by a trailer home that has no chance to avoid him.
When coroner Amanda Selby examines the old man's body, she tells Beth that the victim, who has no identification, is filthy; has only a few, badly decayed teeth; is infested with lice; is suffering from advanced syphilis; is wearing clothes manufactured in the 1880s; and has old coins in his pocket. Beth is bewildered, but thinks the victim was probably a kind of eccentric mountain man living off the earth.
A few days later, a Los Angeles police officer consults Beth about a missing person. It seems a Los Angeles chef named Owen Slader, who was driving back to LA from Las Vegas, vanished in the desert. The last ping from Slader's Mercedes SUV occurred around Barstow, and Beth determines that Slader went missing on the same day, at the same time, and in the same area that the dirty old mountain man ran into the road.
Shortly afterwards, a construction crew that's just starting work in the desert near Barstow comes across a buried old coffin containing a dry yellow skeleton that's over a hundred years old. And -WAIT FOR IT - the skeleton is identified as Owen Slader, who disappeared just a few days ago.
From here the story alternates back and forth between the old mining town of Calico in the 1880s, and current times in Barstow, where Beth is investigating the disappearance of Owen Slader. Beth's inquiries put her on the radar of Bill Knox, the Security Chief at the nearby Marine base, who warns her off. Nevertheless, Beth plows on with her investigation.
In 1880s Calico, we see that the town is in the midst of a silver rush. It has one newspaper man and one judge, and harbors saloons, restaurants, prostitutes, bath houses, etc. that cater to the miners. Calico is dirty and stinks to high heaven, with red dust everywhere, and human waste and garbage covering the streets and swept into open ravines. The descriptions of old Barstow/Calico are very vivid and I could picture the filth; the overpowering stench; the exhausted miners with bad breath and unwashed clothes; the meals of steak, beans, biscuits, and boiled potatoes (25 cents); the bath houses where the same water is used again and again; the cramped caves where miners sleep; and so on.
There's a side plot about Beth's investigation of the robbery of a house on the outskirts of Barstow, that the out-of-town owner sees on CCTV from his home in La Jolla. Beth shows up as the culprits are getting away, after one robber flips a middle finger at the security camera and pees on a sofa. Beth gets on the trail of these perps, who've hit several homes in the area.
There are plenty of twists and surprises in the book, which is a mixed-genre thriller.
I was a little put off by Beth's obsession with sex (she picks up men and has sex with them to deal with her boredom and anxiety), a plot device I call 'male fantasy writing.' That aside, this is an excellent story, highly recommended.
Thanks to Netgalley, Lee Goldberg, and Severn House for a copy of the manuscript.
First novel I’ve read by this author and I don’t think it’ll be the last.
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. Every chapter ended on me wanting to know more and more.
At first I wasn’t sure about the time travel aspect but I grew to enjoy it and understood how it fitted in with the story.
A great read and very well executed.
"Calico" was not what I was expecting, which was a detective investigating 2 cases, one a cold case, at the same time. Instead it is something much more complex which stretches the imagination. Beth is a wonderful strong character and a good detective and friend. She is working in an inhospitable desert community between LA and Las Vegas, due to a work-related issue in LA (which wouldn't have been a problem if she had been a man). In fact, there are a number of strong female characters in this book in addition to Beth, including Wendy and Amanda,
The reader will need to suspend belief but the story is well written and researched.
Thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for the opportunity to review this book.
One of the best books I've read in some time!
I was a little dubious when I realised this book involved time travel as sci-fi is not a genre for me, but if you can allow it, you realise that the plot is so well thought out and written that you cannot stop reading.
The book starts with the story of Beth McDade, a disgraced detective exiled to the desert town of Calico where she stumbles on a mystery so unimaginable, she has trouble believing it herself, but the evidence all points in only one direction, so Beth follows the leads to unravel the wonderous story of how Owen Slader came to be.
Beth as a character is incredibly likeable, she's imperfect, likes a drink and one night stands but nothing will stop her getting to the truth of an investigation and the reader roots for her as she has been so wronged by her superiors. I really hope there's another book for Beth.
I am fascinated by Lee Goldberg's recent output. 7 novels published between 2020 and 2023, with another two planned for 2024. And it's not just the quantity that's astounding but also the quality. Goldberg's wheelhouse is crime thrillers, which he does brilliantly, but Calico is a whole other beast. After creating a dual timeline race-against-time heist thriller with his first Sharpe and Walker book, Malibu Burning, Goldberg takes on a new genre fusion challenge, expertly melding modern police procedural with science fiction. I was reminded of my favorite book from 2019 (Blake Crouch's Recursion) and of the second sequel to my all-time favorite movie, which was no doubt an inspiration to this book (and was referenced a few times by the characters within). There's nothing Lee Goldberg can't do, and there's no novel of his I won't read.
Author: Lee Goldberg
Publisher: Severn House
Genre: Mystery Thriller, Time Travel
Pub Date: November 7, 2023
My Rating: 4 Stars!
I have read several author, Lee Goldberg novels.
I enjoyed the Eve Ronin series. However, I totally loved and read the entire Fox and O’Hare series that he coauthored with Janet Evanovich.
I went into this story knowing NOTHING about it but knew I like this author!
Story takes place in Calico a mining town near Barstow, California, which is in the Mojave Desert not far from the Arizona border.
Living in Southern California my family has traveled through the desert many times. Yep! We stopped in Barstow for food; gas and the restroom ~ there have been signs for miles reminding us how close we are to that McDonald’s!
When our daughters were young we also had to stop at the restaurant that has the dinosaurs.
In 1882 Calico was fast growing railroad hub for silver mining operations. . Now Calico is a small abandoned ghost town- a tourist attraction,
Story is told dual time times Present Day and in 1882.
Present day feature Detective Beth McDade with the Barstow sheriff’s office.
She was a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department until she lost her badge for acting inappropriately (aka having sex with a junior officer).
Beth is called to investigate an accident where an old man was killed by a motor home. He is wearing clothes manufactured in the 1880s; and has old coins in his pocket.
Additionally there is a chef named Owen Slader who was driving back to LA from Las Vegas who seemed to have vanished in the same area where the old man was hit.
Shortly after this situation, a construction crew comes across a buried coffin with bones that are over a hundred years old. - However the coroner is a bit confused as the bones have a titanium radial head in the elbow and two dental implants. Yet the coroner’s investigation states that it appears to be the skeleton is Owen Slider, Yep the man who disappeared just a few days ago.
Beth is involved in both cases
Awww it appears this story is
with a time travel twist.=
This story kept me curious and was a fast read.
I have a few authors that I totally love not only because of their stories with twists and turns but also their wit and humor.
Harlan Coben is at the top of my list
Now ~ Lee Goldberg is high on my list as well!
Oh I have to mentioned this. . ..
I wasn’t a big fan of Beth’s extracurricular activity but this made me laugh ~
Beth’s favorite watering hole is a local bar called “Pour Decisions”.
Perfect for her as she continues to make poor decisions about having sex with ~whomever!
Want to thank NetGalley and Severn House for this early eGalley.
Publishing Release Date scheduled for November 7, 2023.
Wow! Calico is a fun, exciting read! This book is serious, thrilling, absurd, comedic, amusing, crass at times, and has some bizarre, unexplainable things happening. It's like a police procedural meets the Twilight Zone with some comedy thrown in too. It was a pleasant surprise that kept me reading late into the night. The characters are interesting and well-developed, and we get to see different sides of them. There's plenty of adventure, thrills, mystery and conflict between the good and bad guys. This was my first Lee Goldberg book, and I'm looking forward to reading more. Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for the eARC.
Calico by Lee Goldberg
I got an early copy of this thanks to NetGalley!
I’ve been looking for a book like this for so long honestly I love thrillers that blend into other genres- especially sci fi! I find that they seem to work really well together and Calico this this brilliantly!
I felt the setting was really unique and I’ve not really read any books that do time travel in a similar vain to this. It really gets you thinking throughout and I think it will stick with me for a long time.
The book was well-written to keep you on the edge of your set and you don’t want to put it down without unravelling more! The chapters are quite short too which helped me fit the book in a lot so I finished it over a few days!
This was such a refreshing read. Successfully marrying a crime thriller with sci-fi and time travel is no easy feat and Lee Goldberg carries it off wonderfully. Loved the period detail in the historical sections and thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns and many surprises of the plot.
How To Live In The Past And Be Born In The Future
Sheriff Detective Beth McDade is called to the scene for a man who was killed by an RV. The driver of the RV said that the man just ran out while looking behind him. He couldn’t stop in time. Upon inspection McDade noticed that the man really smells. His clothes seem to be soiled by months of sweat. He is wearing jeans, but they appear to be hand-made. Once this thread is established, the second thread starts with Owen Slader, who was driving on I-15 when there was a large explosion accompanied by strange lighting. A dark hole appeared right before him. He hit it but did not stop. He saw a man with a corn cob pipe running past him. When he came to a stop, he was in the middle of the desert. I-15 was gone. From these two threads, this novel starts.
The first thread is narrated by McDade. In addition to trying to identify the man who lost his fight with an RV, there are a series of robberies and a person who disappeared literally without a trace. The investigation of the mystery man gets more and more stranger. The missing person investigation becomes more puzzling. There are several discoveries that are simply impossible. For Slader, he discovers that he is living almost 140 years in the past without any money, no job, a need to hide that he is a time traveler and how to get back, or at least ensure that any of his actions do not imperil his future birth. There are some twists and turns, but as common with action-genre novel, a series of challenges must be solved. This is so true for the Slader thread. This double-barreled main storyline captured my imagination and kept it to the end.
For me, Slader was a much more developed character compared to McDade. More time is spent in the Slader thread. Slader spends time reminiscing that provides his background, both the good side and the warts in his life. His thoughts while he interacts with residents of the Calico mining camp provides another rich insight into his character. As for McDade, she was not as well developed. I only saw two of her characteristics that were well defined, but her not stopping to consider impossible facts is very important to the progress toward the conclusion of the novel. There is a cute B-storyline between one of the bar women that shows that she wants something better and life and achieves it with the help and support of Slader. These aspects of this novel enhanced my reading enjoyment.
The aspects of a novel that can cause some readers to stop reading are present in this novel. One intimate scene starts with a short description before a phone call interrupts the activity. There are women who work in the bars. Two of them are significant characters in the storyline. There are several instances of one sentence that state that their activity occurred. For vulgar and rude language, there is a noticeable level but not to the level that concerned me. This may not be true for all readers. For violence, generally it is quick and over fast. Overall, I believe most readers will be able to read and enjoy this novel.
What I liked and did not like needs to be specified for each main storyline thread. The investigative thread started normally with the twists and turns to discovers who and why the missing man disappeared, there was much involvement with the military base with the explosions and some other investigations and strange events. This was interesting, but in the end it turns to more action with a typical a little over-the-top chase, which was okay. The Calico was very interesting to me as well thought out and realistic. I liked how Slader and Hale ensured that their descendants would survive and not interfere with his birth over a hundred years in the future. I also liked how Slader used literature and TV references that are in the future to name himself and his many enterprises. There were, in my opinion, two loose ends. One phenomena only occurred in the date. There was a second, but it occurred in the last chapter and would be a spoiler.
I have read five novels and purchased four others by this author. He is solidly in my Must-Read category. I am looking forward to reading more novels by this author. I enjoyed reading this novel and recommend reading it. I rate it with four stars.
I received a free prepublication e-book version of this novel through NetGalley from Severn House. My review is based solely on my own reading experience of this book. I wish to thank Severn House for the opportunity to read and review this novel early.
Detective Beth McDade is just trying to survive and maybe find some redemption for her past, which is why she is working in the scorching Mohave desert. Called to the scene of a man hit and killed when he ran in front of a motorhome, every clue she finds sends her farther down a path that keeps going deeper and deeper to a conclusion Beth cannot believe. Military secrets, a man who went missing days ago, but when his bones are found they've been buried for nearly one hundred years. How is that possible....
#FirstLine ~ The walls in Beth McDade’s dark bedroom were bare.
Calico by Lee Goldberg is a gripping and atmospheric mystery novel that takes readers on a thrilling journey through the sun-baked, unforgiving landscape of Barstow, California. In a city where the interstate leads only one way—away, we meet the resilient ex-LAPD detective, Beth McDade, who is seeking a shot at redemption following a dramatic fall from grace. Her journey for a second chance leads her to the enigmatic town of Calico, a struggling mining community with a history as mysterious as the desert that surrounds it.
As the story unfolds, the web of intrigue tightens, leading to a revelation that could change the world. Calico is a mesmerizing tale of secrets, redemption, and the inexorable ties that bind the past to the present. The author's ability to blend history, mystery, and character development into a cohesive and enthralling narrative makes this novel a must-read for fans of detective fiction and historical mysteries. Lee Goldberg's Calico will keep you guessing until the very end, and it's a compelling story that will stay with you long after you've turned the final page.
Without doubt the most original novel of the books I have read recently is the genre-bending Calico by Lee Goldberg.
Set in Barstow, California, a decaying city in the scorching Mojave desert, the story opens with an unidentified vagrant being struck down by a motorhome. The investigating officer is ex-LAPD detective Beth McDade, who has come to Barstow after a staggering fall from grace. As Beth digs into the case she makes a series of startling discoveries, including a mysterious old skeleton in a shallow grave. With every disturbing clue she uncovers, Beth finds herself confronting her own troubled past and questioning her grip on reality. While in another storyline, set a hundred years ago, a desperate stranger is trying to establish a new life in the struggling mining town of Calico, not far from present day Barstow.
It is hard to go further into the plot without ruining the enjoyment of the various surprises. There are extraordinary elements to the story, but Goldberg keeps it all well grounded with his solid police investigation plot and his flawed and credible characters. Beth McCade is a convincing, engaging creation who is trying to make up for mistakes in her past, while the ‘stranger’ in Calico is also well crafted.
Goldberg skilfully alternates between the two storylines, and both move along at a good pace and maintain a high level of interest throughout. The details of the investigation, and Beth’s other cases, are well handled and the book builds to a neat climax, with a nice final twist.
The less traditional elements of Goldberg’s book are well grounded by the convincing detail of Beth’s investigation, while the historical elements are also nicely limned in believable hues.
In all, a really enjoyable tale that kept me engrossed from beginning to end.
On February 2nd 2019, San Bernadino homicide detective, Beth McDade is called to an accident outside a local diner. A man dressed like a miner from the 1800s has been hit by a motor home. From the way he is dressed, Beth assumes he is one of the actors from the local Calico tourist attraction. However, an autopsy throws up some strange anomalies. Not only is he dressed in authentic clothes from the nineteenth century, the wear and tear on his body bears all the hallmarks of someone who had lived during that time.
On the same night, there is another incident. A man called Owen Slader, disappears while driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles on his way to visit his daughter. The last location from his mobile phone shows he was on the same road. Two days later, as a construction company begin excavation work to build a new residential development, they discover an old coffin. Inside are the remains of Owen Slader. Analysis of his skeleton indicate he died over one hundred years ago.
This is a very atmospheric story and one I had difficulty putting down. There’s a great sense of place, whether we’re with Owen in nineteenth century Calico, or Beth in the present day, as they both take turns with the narrative of this time slip crime story. Both Owen and Beth’s experiences weave seamlessly throughout the book, and then right at the end, just when you think that's it, there is an unexpected little twist. It’s a compelling read, well researched and one that had me hooked straight away. I usually read and review psychological thrillers and crime. This was crime, but different…in a good way. Loved it!
I would like to thank the author, Severn House Publishing, and Netgalley for an ARC of Calico in exchange for an honest review.
You know you are onto a winner when you find yourself smiling as you read. I did that a lot while I was reading Lee Goldberg’s Calico. Our protagonist is Beth McDade, a detective working for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office in Barstow but based in the one horse town of Baker. Beth is smart, resilient, impulsive and slightly fatally attracted to men. That’s why she’s in Barstow and not still working for the LAPD.
Beth is indulging in her favourite off duty activity – her second favourite is visiting the wonderfully named Pour Decisions bar – when she gets a call. A man has been run down and killed outside a diner in the Mojave Desert by a couple driving a motorhome. An elderly couple were driving and momentarily distracted by a lightning strike, failed to see the man who ran straight into their path. He was wearing old, dirt caked vintage clothing and had nothing on him that could identify him, though his pockets contained some things that would not have been out of place in the late 1800’s.
The coroner tells Beth this is a tragedy rather than a crime. Further enquiries in the area lead to nothing – no-one seems to know who this man was.
Then Beth is asked to try and find a missing man. 35 year old Owen Slader is a chef and food writer/influencer. It transpires that he went missing on the same day, at the same time and in the same area as Beth’s hit and run corpse.
Calico is a dual timeline story that takes a deadly and puzzling police procedural, adds a pretty serious element of military secrecy and infuses it with a western flavour.
This is an enthralling book that kept me turning the pages with ever growing speed, keen to know where his story was going to go next. It is very well researched and because it is, Goldberg is able to bring us a vivid and authentic portrait of the town of Calico, where these mysteries converge.
Goldberg’s writing makes his characters feel like flesh and blood and enables us to root for them, even as he makes them twist and turn in this hydra like story.
Calico is a wonderful mixture of great dialogue, fascinating characters and historical accuracy. It takes Beth, with the help of Coroner Amanda Selby’s forensic science, to cast blazing light over the whole picture. Goldberg’s puzzle is well-paced, his sense of time and place is pitch perfect and his characters are terrific.
Verdict: It’s hard to say more without moving into spoiler territory, but Calico is such a well told tale that it deserves to find a huge audience. Even if you think it’s not for you, give it a try. I’m still smiling and that makes it a must read.
Calico Lee Golding
Is time travel real?
Detective Beth McDade has been sent to work in Barstow, California a small town in the Mojave desert, after being banished from the Los Angeles force due to a disciplinary problem.
She has settled down here although the work is not particularly inspiring. However everything changes when she sees a man being run over by a motorhome. As she examines his body she realises that his attire is from another time at least 100 years ago. At almost the same time she discovers that a man called Owen Slade has disappeared into thin air.
Not long after this, Beth finds some skeletal remains which are from the late 19th century but have modern dentistry and medical procedures. Are these two victims connected and if so how?
We move away from the current day and discover that Owen Slade has indeed stepped back in time and has been transported to a mining community called Calico. The story jumps between Owen’s description of his life in a basic and primitive mining community and the present day where Beth comes to realise that there is indeed time travel but how can she ever prove it? There are also government agencies who will stop at nothing to prevent the real truth from being known.
I really enjoyed this book, originally I thought it would just be another detective story but the description of life in the last century was really interesting and the author has obviously researched a lot about Calico and what life was like then. I also enjoyed the character of Beth who is certainly a feisty lady. I would like to read more by this author.
What an excellent read! I’m not familiar with Lee Goldberg’s books, so I came to this with no expectations. This is a well paced police, investigative, procedural, mystery in and around Calico in modern day California, inextricably linked to events over 100 years earlier in the same location.
The plot kicks along at a nice pace, with elements of the story and the mystery being revealed throughout - with lots of surprises along the way. I found the central character, Beth McDade, interesting and likeable. She has a chequered past, with some aspects of her character that still get her into degrees of trouble - but she is competent, determined and loyal, giving her the doggedness to get to the bottom of the complex events she’s investigating.
The parallel story in 1880’s Calico paints a vivid picture of life in a small mining community, which felt real and alive to me, with a good mix of supporting characters.
The story kept me on my toes the whole way through. The uncovering and resolving of each layer of mystery was satisfying without being predictable, and I was intrigued by how all the threads would be resolved right to the end.
My only minor gripe is that the central theme of the book is left unmentioned for the first 7 chapters, despite being (to me) very obvious, which I found quite frustrating. Although perhaps that’s just me, as it’s also not mentioned in the blurb, so I won’t reveal it here. It certainly didn’t distract from a 5-star review for an incredibly engaging and interesting read.
Thank you #NetGalley and Severn House for the free review copy of #CalicoBook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I enjoyed reading this book. It was an interesting read. Thank you to the writer, publisher and NetGalley for letting me review this book
First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Lee Goldberg, and Severn House for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
Everything that I have read by Lee Goldberg has kept me enthralled and this newest novel is no exception. Goldberg utilises his abilities in writing police procedurals with a career working in television to develop this piece, which adds a little mind- and time-bending to keep the reader hooked. A small California community comes to life when a man dies in a motor vehicle mishap around the time a freak weather event and explosion occur. What’s even more confusion is his state of dress and presentation. That is further exacerbated when a local man disappears into thin air around the same time, leaving Detective Beth McDade to piece things together. What follows is a mystery that no one saw coming, with ties across decades and through a rooted family tree. Goldberg does a brilliant job with this piece, keeping the reader hooked until the final page turn.
Those who have heard of Barstow, California, know that this dusty town in the Mojave desert is destination for no one, save those trying to flee its confines. Such is the truth that Detective Beth McDade has come to discover since being forced from the LAPD. With a past she chooses to shelve, Detective McDade has found this small area and calls it home.
After arriving at the scene of a man run over by a motor home, Detective McDade wonders why she is here. It is only when she examines the victim, who has no signs of being from around Barstow, that McDade sees the oddities. The man’s presentation and state of attire are from another time, which baffles those who saw what happened. Add to this, Owen Slader disappears into thin air. Something is surely amiss and all Detextive MxDade can decipher is that there was something going on at the local military base. Witnesses saw a fork of lightning, but nothing can substantiate events enough to put the mysteries to rest.
Not long thereafter, McDade finds some skeletal remains, adding to the ongoing confusion. The skeleton shows signs of modern medical advancements, but also has deteriorated.to the point that it must have been from the late 19th century. Could this skeleton and the man who died on the interstate be connected in some odd way? Detective McDade will stop at noting to connect the dots, even if there’s s no way of making sense of them.
Owen Slader has his own story here, a man who disappeared into thin air and emerged in the middle of Calico, California. A mining community is nothing like the modern community in which he was living, but it holds new and valuable assets. Slader takes on a new identity and tries to make a life for himself in the 1880s, while leaving clues that he is not from this time. He plants roots and tries to help those from his future life better understand what’s happened to him.
As the truth soon emerges and she must make a pronouncement, Detective McDade realises that she has something out of this world on her hands, with no chance of tying the mystery up in a tight bow. There are forces she could not have expected trying to silence her, with others seeking answers from a fore-bearer who appears to have straddled two points in time. Goldberg does well to pace this book and keep things going for all to enjoy until the final reveal.
There is something about Lee Goldberg and his writing that has long excited me. I love his description and how he uses his narrative to paint a picture the reader can easily see as thy keep reading. While things may appear a tad “science fiction” on the surface, there is a great mystery afoot and the reader is in the middle of it all. There are great developments, though the reader will have to keep up or risk losing it all.
Characters emerge with ease and Goldberg knows how to place them in such a way that they cannot help but impact the larger storyline. While Beth McDade remains central throughout, she pales at times in comparison to the life of Owen Slader, whose existence has also been turned upside down. Goldberg depicts all this with ease and great detail, entertaining the reader while flavoring the narrative.
It is the plot twisting that takes centre stage in this piece. Goldberg knows how to tell a story and add folds to the linear presentation to keep the reader from guessing too much. There is little time to rests on one’s laurels, though Goldberg makes the adventure something exciting that all can enjoy. The book plays out like a great television movie, which shows Goldberg’s influences. I cannot wait to see what else he has in store for readers and where things are headed with his writing.
Kudos, Mr. Goldberg, for opening my mind to something well outside my usual reading comfort zone.
At first I thought this was simply a detective novel having never read any of Lee's novels before.
An interesting read and unlike any other I have read before.
Reminder me a bit of the style of Dean Koontz and Harlen Corbin but a gentler story with much less violence/horror.
Entertaining and different
Lee Goldberg is the prolific author of a number of long running crime series and also responsible for a number of TV shows including Monk and Diagnosis Murder. In Calico he tries out a bit of a genre mash. There is definitely a crime procedural element here. But Calico is also a bit of a western and a bit of a science fiction novel aswell. While disbelief needs to be well and truly suspended, Goldberg has the chops to deliver engaging characters and an enjoyable ride.
Ex-LAPD detective Beth McDade is doing her time as an investigator in the sleepy town of Barstow California. Nearby Barstow are two army bases and the replica mining town of Calico, a reconstructed tourist attraction based on the actual town that flourished during a silver rush in the 1880s. Beth’s world is shaken up when a man is run over by an RV outside a diner near Calico. The man’s antique clothing and appearance is not the only strange thing to happen on the same night which also includes another man going missing. McDade starts to find details about the two cases that do not add up, including an interest of the military. At the same time, and for reasons that connect to McDade’s investigation, Goldberg takes readers to Calico during its boom years. He, of course, includes a bit of lampshading of other books and movies that have used a similar conceit and has fun with the idea of alien conspiracy theories along the way.
The trick with Calico is not to think too deeply about it. Goldberg has delivered pure, escapist, speculative fiction deftly anchored by some standard crime genre conventions.
Another fun and entertaining book by Lee Goldberg. A bit different from his previous work but it was fun to read a different kind of detective story. It reminded me of Back to the Future part three and I loved the movie and tv show references. As always with Goldberg, the book was well written and the characters well developed. I highly recommend this book.
Thanks to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for the copy.
A very entertaining time travel mystery that I found funny and enjoyable with some memorable characters.
Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review
This story within a story moves from the twentieth century to an old mining town and back. The characters are engaging and entertaining with a great sense of humor in connecting the past they have landed in and have to contend with and the future they know they are creating. Add to that mix a government coverup of its involvement in time travel and the circle is complete.
No matter what the topic or genre, I'm always up for reading any book by one of my favorite authors. That said, it pays to pay attention: had I noticed the genres in which this one is included (e.g., Science Fiction and Time Travel), I wouldn't have been quite so perplexed when it turned out to be quite different from what I expected. But once I got into the groove, I was hooked - and I marveled that anyone could come up with such an intricate plot that doesn't have holes in it large enough to drive a spaceship through (and happily, one that leaves the door open for more to come).
It's hard to cough up a review without spoiling things for other readers, but the story centers on homicide detective Beth McDade, who managed to land a job with the somewhat remote San Bernadino County Sheriff's Barstow Station after being dumped from the LAPD for doing something that comes naturally once or twice too often. These days, she spends a bunch of time at a local pub called Pour Decisions (gotta love it) but solving crime not so much. That changes when she's called to the scene after a screaming man ran right into a van driven by an elderly couple on their way to Las Vegas (an accident; they were sent on their way). But the dead guy has no identification; a bigger mystery, though, is why he's wearing clothing from the 1800s and is in poor health. But wait, there's more: not long afterward, construction workers unearth human bones that are quite old - except for the titanium implants in the elbows. Whoops!
As Beth and local coroner Amanda Selby try to figure out what's going on, readers get the full monty by way of chapters that provide timely (or maybe I should say untimely) insights into the past. By the end, of course, everything comes together, complete with a twist I sure didn't see coming. The whole thing is entertaining and kind of mind-blowing, and for sure I'll be watching for the next installment. Meantime, I thank the publisher, via NetGalley, for the privilege of reading a pre-release copy.
What a brilliant book this was. I’m not usually a fan of this type of genre where time travel is suggested as they are normally too far fetched. Calico however was so well written with brilliant characters and it alternated seemlessly between the 1880’s to 2019. When detective Beth McDade is called out to a road accident where an apparent vagrant has been killed by a motor home it appears just a sad incident but when the victims clothes appear to be over 100 years old she is completely puzzled. At the same time Owen finds himself in a terrifyingly bizarre situation that would have most people unable to cope. When travelling on a journey through the Mojave desert a strange lightning storm occurs he is suddenly off the road and in the middle of nowhere. What happened? Well no more spoilers from me but this book is one of fear, confusion and despair but also of love and hope. The unsanitary conditions of the 1880’s where disease is rife and life is unbelievable tough and dangerous are described so well you can almost smell the grim town and dirty inhabitants. A fast paced book that had me absolutely gripped from start to finish. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t read any of this author’s previous books but will certainly seek out more in the future. Or maybe the past…..Thoroughly recommended.
If you are looking for something different in your reading life, you can't go wrong with Lee Goldberg's new standalone, Calico. I love being surprised by a book, and this one astonished and delighted me at every turn. It's an exceedingly clever mashup of police procedural and historical Western adventure, with a strong component of science fiction. You'll find out about the latter very early in the book, so I won't spoil it here.
The police procedural stars disgraced homicide detective Beth McDade in the Mojave desert town of Barstow, CA, the only place that would hire her. She's investigating two recent, unexplainable deaths--an old man, killed in a motor home accident, whose bones and clothing prove to be over 100 years old, and a local chef and influencer who abruptly disappeared the same day, but whose soon-discovered skeleton is also 100+ years old. Beth suspects it might not be a coincidence that there were explosions at two nearby military bases on that very same day. The other half of the plot focuses on Owen, the man who disappeared, and what really happened to him. More details about the story would be spoilers, and you owe it to yourself to read this book to find out for yourself. Trust me, you won't regret it!
I grew to appreciate Beth more and more as the story progressed, for her dogged pursuit of answers in the face of growing resistance from the authorities. even when the answers seemed impossible. Her friendship with her coroner colleague, the pregnant Amanda, is an important and welcome respite from the often-grim occurrences. The author's research makes one of the venues, a real-life silver mining town in the late 1880s, come to life. Now a ghost town and tourist attraction,
Calico as depicted by Goldberg is full of authentic Wild West atmosphere, sights, and particularly smells. I was enthralled by both Owen's fascinating life, as it is revealed, and by Beth's determination to work her way through a uber-difficult situation and bring closure that will benefit all of the parties involved. The chases are enthralling and the science fiction portion, while requiring at least some suspension of disbelief, is compelling. This book has it all.
My thanks to Severn House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.
Calico by Lee Goldberg is amazing. The combination of genres is pure magic.
Will Beth find out what actually happened to Owen on February 2, 2019?
Homicide Detective Beth McDade of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department is called to investigate the death of a man hit by an RV near Yermo, California. Beth hasn't made many outstanding decisions in her lifetime, yet she is a magnificent detective, even if she is doing it in Barstow, California. The weather is hot and dry there. If you have ever been there, you know there isn't much to do. Most people use it as a pitstop between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Anyway, the man is a bit different from most. He wears strange clothes and is physically in terrible condition, even for a corpse. The investigation gets weirder when a man on his way home to Los Angeles disappears almost in the exact location. Oh, it gets better as a corpse is discovered by an excavation company working not far from the freaky spot that may be connected.
Beth is so real. She has issues that she is not dealing with, nor does it seem that she cares to either. Yet, she embraces her quirks and puts her best foot forward when it comes to her job. Beth is an exceptional investigator, and she has decided that she will figure out what happened to Owen and the man hit by the RV. Tenacious is a good description.
There was a saying about Barstow that Beth heard when she'd arrived from LA three years ago.
The interstate here only goes in one direction: away. Nobody wants to be in Barstow and those who do, you don't want to know.
Owen is a YouTube Chef with a twelve year old daughter. Who drives into the past literally and figuratively. Once he realizes he is in the 1800s, he sets about making a life for himself that won't endanger his life in the future or that of his daughter. He basically takes all of the knowledge of time travel he has ever read about or seen in movies and applies it to his present predicament. I love it. Owen became a part of the time he was in but didn't forget who he was or the principles he stood for.
He also set his new family with a list of things to make them prosper in the future. Owen was a genius, or at least his wife was. They found love, happiness, and prosperity in the 1800s. All those history classes were worth it.
Mr. Goldberg mixes many different genres into this story and does an excellent job doing it. There is the mystery, police procedural, some crime scene and coroner type of scenes, some science fiction, western, romance, a bit of a thriller with all the cloak and dagger stuff. I love it! The story is written from the point of view of Owen in the past and present, along with Beth, who investigates it and pulls all the clues together in the present. It's amazing. You can see he did a ton of research, but the characters are my favorite. I love them all: Wendy/Gwendolyn, the Judge, Tuttle, Chet, Bill, Chris Cartwright, Nicole, and Amanda. All of them are so realistic, even the mad pisser with the crooked finger.
The pop culture references are spot on for Mr. Goldberg, from Outer Limits to Star Trek, the Time Machine by HG Wells, Denny's, and Ben Cartwright.
My rating for Calico by Lee Goldberg is five stars. If you are looking for a book with a bit of everything with a fantastic story, I highly recommend this one. Please check out Calico. It brought the Barstow area of California into a new light.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Thank you for dropping by! I hope you enjoyed this review of Calico by Lee Goldberg.
Until the next time,
If you would like to see other reviews like this one, check out Baroness Book Trove.
Lee Goldberg is a very clever writer. Sneaky clever. Well into his ongoing Eve Ronin series, with entry #5 due next year, about a police detective who is a social media star, and having recently inaugurated his Sharpe & Walker series about California arson investigators, Goldberg ropes us in with a story starring another detective, Beth McDade, exiled from the LAPD to the desert outpost of Barstow.
But this time, Goldberg takes a sharp left turn from police procedural into time travel sci-fi, as we go back a century and a half, following a present-day LA chef teleported through a portal to a nearby silver rush 19th century mining camp. While Beth spends her time trying to figure out what's going on with all the crazy military conspiracies, our erstwhile chef Owen Slader tries to navigate the rough and tumble world of the frontier.
If you're keeping score at home, that's mystery, science fiction, conspiracy thriller, and western all rolled into one. But as clever as that concept is, what makes it work is that Goldberg continues to be just a flat out excellent writer. I discovered him a few years ago and have read him a lot since then -- an even dozen of his own novels and a couple of collaborations with other authors. He may have chosen to work mainly in genre fiction, but he always bring far more literary flair than one would expect from genre writing.
With a new Eve Ronin and a second Sharpe & Walker already scheduled for 2024, I'm going to hope that the not altogether resolved story line of Calico means more genre mash-ups featuring Beth McDade are in our future (or past, as the case may be). Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and publisher for graciously providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. And honestly, this is great stuff.
This was one weird story! I had never read anything from Lee Goldberg before but have seen several episodes of a few of his tv shows. I hope he has plans on writing a series around Beth McDade and/or Calico. Beth is just likeable and interesting enough to be a good MC and Calico is just weird and creepy enough to be a good setting for a series. What do I know though, I’m neither a writer nor a publisher. I’m just an avid reader who would read a sequel or second installment on either Beth McDade or Calico.
The story starts out in Feb2019 and the book summary pretty much introduces a few of the storylines. One being Beth’s banishment to the only CA law enforcement agency (Barstow Sheriff Dept) that would hire her after the scandal back at the LAPD over her affair with a subordinate. The other one being the disappearance of a well-known LA chef/influencer/podcaster, named Owen, last seen at the local gas station, at 2am a couple of nights ago, coming home from Vegas.
As an Angeleno, I can confirm that Barstow is nothing more than a pitstop on the Mohave Desert highway from LA to Vegas. It’s claim to fame being the famed Route 66 museum. It’s a town whose residents are pretty evenly split between a horde of tweakers, gangbangers, sex workers and the first responder personnel (police dept, sheriffs dept, EMT’s, and CHP) that covers the area. There’s also a Marine base there in Barstow, where even most of the first responders and service members who work in Barstow would rather commute from Victorville than live in Barstow.
Anyway, Beth’s former LAPD subordinate/lover, Trent, alerts Beth to the disappearance of Owen and asks for her help in finding him. At the same time, it’s revealed that the homeless man, as well as the clothes that he was wearing, were more than 100yrs old. Then Owen’s skeleton was found by a crew on a local construction site. It was determined that he had been dead for more than a 100yrs. Ok, that’s when the bizarre and creepy takes over. None of this is a spoiler since it takes place in the first 15-20% of the story. Without getting into any big spoiler alerts, I will say that this is a time-travel story, and a pretty good one in my opinion.
The story flips back between present-day and the past. Into the second half of the story, Beth discovers all the other disappearances that have occurred, on Feb 2nd, the same date that Owen disappeared (in 2019), going back nearly 100yrs. She’s certain that the Marine base is behind it and she’s determined to find out why and how it’s happening. The base is also onto her and her investigation. It’s at this point, that Beth meets with a conspiracy theorist that all the pieces fall into place for Beth.
It’s not much longer, in a scene right out of Fast and Furious, in downtown Glendale (where hubby and I live) no less, that Beth pulls a fast one (literally) on the boatload of law enforcement agencies chasing her. The end comes pretty quick after that with Beth finagling the deal of a lifetime from the military.
This was one that was hard to put down and a very late night finishing it because I simply could not go to sleep until I knew how it ended. Not sure if anyone else felt this, but did it seem like the ending was a lead-in to a sequel or a second installment? Please, please, please, Mr Goldberg, let there be more Beth McDade and Calico. PLEEEAAASSSEEE!!!!! I want to thank NetGalley and Severn House for sending me this eARC in exchange for my honest review.
#NetGalley #SevernHouse #Calico
Started this book and became quickly engrossed in the story, dead person hit by truck, another person missing and some unusual activity with weather with the main character being a former LA cop who left in disgrace and was now working at a sheriff's office in the desert.
Then it took quite the turn and was no longer just a cop thriller. Initially I was thrown by this and was concerned that I wasn't going to enjoy it anymore however persevered and ended up being even more gripped than I had been previously.
Very good writing indeed and an excellent storyline.
Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the advanced copy for review purposes.
I have enjoyed every book that I have read by this author and the mystery and his witty dialog made this a fast-paced read. Former LAPD Detective Beth McDade lost her job due to a personal lapse in judgement and is now lucky to be a detective in Barstow, California? She is tough, relentless and often sarcastic. When a man ran screaming from the desert, he was run over by a motor home. The motor home driver was not at fault, but at the same time a man who was returning from Las Vegas is missing. As Beth investigates both cases, construction had just begun on property owned by the Cartwright family and an old grave is discovered. Beth and the local coroner are called to the scene and the skeleton provides some startling information which will leave them in disbelief. How can this be and what do they do now? When Beth is warned away from the investigation, she knows that she has stumbled onto something that someone wants hidden, and the chase and search is on! I received an advance review copy at no cost and without obligation for an honest review. (paytonpuppy)
After hearing Goldberg speak about his novel, I knew immediately that I had to read it. It's not every day that I get to read anything about Barstow where I lived for two years when my dad was stationed at Camp Irwin in the early 50's. I remembered the base as a wonderful playground for children-after all, the whole place was a gigantic sandbox. But my parents remembered it as a hellhole and that's how Goldberg begins his book.
Officer Beth McDade was busted from the LAPD for sex with a subordinate. To stay a cop in Ca., she had to accept the dregs of assignments-Barstow, where Death Valley meets dead career choice. Normally life isn't too exciting but on 2/2/2019 there was a fiery explosion at the Marine base, a crazed guy hit by a motor home, and the disappearance of Owen Slader, an Anthony Bourdain wannabee. All of the sudden, Officer McDade had her hands full.
Meanwhile, back in the mining town of Calico in the 1880's a dude appears. He doesn't smell bad, he has all of his teeth, and he's dressed funny, all of which set him apart from the townsfolk. To fit in, he identifies himself as a chef who specializes in French cuisine. When he starts a job cooking at the Saloon, food automatically and exponentially improves. He goes by the name Ben Cartwright.
McDade finds bones in a new project development and the coroner runs tests on them-they are certainly Slader's remains but why is he only a skeleton after disappearing a week ago, and why do his bones and the remains of the guy hit by the motor home date back to the 1880's?
This is a good police investigation/western that brings back the real mining town and the true flavor of Calico California mixed in with some very whimsical elements. Goldberg marries the events of now and then with a wonderful sense of imagination and makes the reader believe things that can't possibly be true...or can they?
Author Lee Goldberg's ingenious genre-bending paranormal thriller combines mystery, pathos, and humor into a plot premise that is both wondrous and believable. Charged with investigating two crimes—one of a missing man and the other a deadly hit-and-run—homicide detective Beth McDade thinks they have only one thing in common: both incidents happened within a few yards and a few seconds of each other during a lightning storm near the Old West ghost town of Calico. But as Beth discovers other surreal connections between the two incidents, she soon finds herself in the crosshairs of Bill Knox, the security chief for the local Marin Corps logistics base, whose threats become less thinly veiled.
As always, Goldberg's leading characters—Beth and the missing person, Owen Slader—are lovable, flawed, and redeemed by their quick thinking and brave acts. Goldberg masterfully blends the sometimes harsh realities of 150 years past with the forensic science of the present, creating a believable scenario in which only time holds the answer to both mysteries. — Josie Brown, author, The Housewife Assassin's Handbook mystery series
We all have heard of the Mojave desert in California which is the setting for these Lee Goldberg detective thriller. Imagine being a detective there. Not too much to do there you'd think but then you'd be wrong. When Beth McDade, an ex LPD detective, finds herself with a busy shift involving a vagrant run over by a motor home and a skeleton, later dated to the 1870's, dug up on a building site she is on to something extraordinary. It gradually emerges their fates are intertwined and we are taken on a time-travel journey with a fascinating outcome.
Certainly original, certainly gripping and just a little disturbing this is a novel to challenge conventional thinking authored with real style by Lee Goldberg.
Detective Beth McDade left LAPD under a cloud, ending up in the Barstow station of the San Berardino County Sheriff’s Office. Much of the county is uninhabited desert, and the crimes she deals with involve gangs or drugs. Then two bodies show up near the Calico Ghost Town, and her job gets much more interesting. On the surface, one death is accidental, the other natural. One is the loser in a human-RV race, the other is the skeleton of a long-buried miner. Below the surface, each body has some puzzling, almost impossible aspects that sends McDade down a twisty and dangerous rabbit hole.
Lee Goldberg has written in a wide variety of genres, from the coziest of cozies to the gritty and raunchy. Calico is a genre all its own, combining a standard police procedural, a historical western, X-Files style government skullduggery, and time travel a la Back to the Future and H.G. Wells. It all adds up to one rollicking good yarn.
I was happily following the story in the 'present' and was totally unprepared for the shift to the past. However, the two perspectives were told separately very cleverly and the author had clearly took a lot of time in prepping the unraveling of the story. Thankfully it had the potential to fall flat at the end but it also wrapped up with a satisfying conclusion too.
Lots of fun to be had for fans of Back to the Future - this comes across a bit like Back to the Future 3 at times.
Must say - I loved it. Totally worth 5 stars.
Many thanks for the ARC
Does Lee Goldberg know how to tell a story, or what? This is quite the page turner. There is time travel back to 1882 with lots of reality checks on what it would be like to live then. Hint: it isn't like Gunsmoke. There is a spunky county deputy named Beth who will not stop until she gets to the bottom of the two bodies that both seem to have died in the wrong time. Also love Amanda, the intrepid coroner who is not afraid to push the envelope. This is definitely a genre bender and I found it impossible to put down.
Thank you to Severn House and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
"Calico" by Lee Goldberg is an intriguing blend of investigative thriller and time-travel adventure. The story unfolds through two main threads, with Sheriff Detective Beth McDade investigating a mysterious man killed by an RV and a series of perplexing events in the Mojave desert, while Owen Slader finds himself transported back in time and must navigate the challenges of living in the past.
The narrative keeps you engaged with its well-paced plot, weaving together the investigations and challenges faced by McDade and Slader. I found Slader to be a more compelling and developed character, with his struggle to adapt to a different time period and his interactions with the residents of the Calico mining camp adding depth to his story.
Goldberg's writing style draws you into the mystery, making it hard to put the book down. While there are some elements that might not be suitable for all readers, the novel provides an enjoyable reading experience with its blend of action, intrigue, and a touch of time-travel fantasy. Overall, "Calico" is a captivating and thought-provoking read that will keep you guessing until the very end.
Calico is a parallel-narrative, time-slip historical thriller in which we meet Beth McDade, a homicide detective in Barstow, California in 2019. Called to the scene of an accident involving the fatal collision of a motor home with a vagrant, she finds things don’t quite add up. Apart from anything else, the filthy man’s clothing looks about a century old, which could mean he’s been living rough, off the grid. Other strange anomalies are apparent in the skeletal contents of a coffin found at a building site. Meanwhile a YouTube wannabe chef disappears without trace. Beth’s curiosity kicks in fast, her thoughts seconded by the coroner. Barely into her investigation, she is tracked by powerful forces and threatened to drop it or risk her career. But, of course, she can’t. Then: a lightning storm, an unexplained disappearance, explosions at two military bases, a highway bus accident, and the motorhome accident. Beth needs to find the connection.
Beth is a savvy, streetwise cop who’s made mistakes and paid for them, but whose sense of fair play is admirable. Basing his novel on the actual silver mining ghost town of Calico, now a California State Park, Goldberg paints an unapologetically unsanitary, malodorous 1880s Calico, where sewers and drainage are non-existent, and water and bathing almost so. The desert dust works its way into every nook and cranny, in both contemporary and historical settings, which are equally compelling and leave the reader breathless for more. A cleverly complex plot wreathed in Goldberg’s brilliant humour makes this a rocket-paced story; a minutely researched historical tale with a sci-fi twist which imparts a message to accept the lot we are given and make the best job of circumstances that we can. Goldberg’s protagonist certainly does. This novel, where wryly amusing moments abound, comes highly recommended.
Beth is a cop working in a nowhere town. She has a past that forced her off the beaten trail. She becomes involved in two cases that seem to be connected but that seems so unbelievable.
I do love a good police mystery. This book has that plus the time travel element thrown into the mix, another favorite. I liked Beth, she was pretty tough and determined. I really liked this book
I was at a program with Lee and his brother Tod for their newest books when Lee mentioned his newest book. I immediately went to NetGalley for an ARC. If you are ever near a program with them, go!! They are funny and informative.
I went into this book with no prior knowledge and was blown away!
It was completely different from any of his other books, and I could not put it down.
The book starts on February 2, 2019 in Barstow, CA, a town I have driven through many times on my way to Las Vegas, and I had no idea there is a Calico Ghost town. Maybe I will stop there next trip.
A man has been run over by an RV at Peggy Sue's diner (another place I have always wanted to go) and he is a mystery man. He has lice, bad teeth and syphilis. His clothes and boots seem to be from another century.
Then, an LAPD detective with whom our hero Detective Beth McDade has a history, comes looking for a missing LA man named Owen Slader.
The suddenly we are in Calico in on Feb 4th 1882 where Owen.has driven through a rift in time. Yes, our mystery novel has become a time travel mystery novel.
I must say, Goldberg has done a fabulous job with the 1882 sections. His descriptions of the people, the food, the smells and the lives of silver miners is so interesting. Owen keeps thinking that it is nothing like the TV Westerns.when he is asked his name he blurts out Ben Cartwright, and the Bonanza theme starts running through my brain.
The book then is about how Ben survives in the past and how Beth tries to solve the mystery in the present.
Just an excellent book in every way, from the depiction of cops in a small town like Barstow, to living in a small desert town in 1882, Goldberg has written a very exciting book.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy for an honest review. READ THIS BOOK!
Barstow, California is a rundown city in the Mojave desert. It is a place people tend to leave, not move to. But after a staggering fall from grace, ex-LAPD detective Beth McDade finds it the only place she can get another job as a police officer. She works hard, and buries herself at the bar when not at work. She thinks about redemption, but that doesn’t happen in a place like Barstow.
Beth is called to an old skeleton dug up at a construction site, where things don’t quite seem to be adding up. She is also investigating a traffic accident involving a vagrant, killed when he ran in front of a motor home driver during a lightning storm. The vagrant is completely unknown, and his body presents a wealth of questions for the medical examiner - much more than just from involvement in a road traffic accident.
The more Beth investigates, the more clues she uncovers, and the more conclusions she comes to which make her start to question her view of the world. Beth has to completely change her mindset, and find a way to bring others into her way of thinking, into a discovery that will change how the world works forever.
When I saw this book was out I was excited by a new police drama from Lee Goldberg. I was not so convinced by the western elements hinted at. I am not typically a western fan, nor so much a historical fiction fan. But I will tell you right now - take any preconceptions you have about any genres before you read this book and throw them out the door. In fact, take the blurb above, and any other blurbs you have read - and throw them out the door while you are at it. This book is an absolute mastercraft of writing, but at the same time is a mind bending, dazzling, evocative, intriguing, and gripping read. You are bounced from place to place in the best possible way. You are brought along on the journey of discovery the characters are making, with the plot unfolding for you as much as them, and your mind being blown along with theirs. The writing really brings the people in the story to life, and brings the places to life in vivid detail
I could not put this book down. I did not want to stop reading. When it ended I wanted to start it again. I wanted to experience the crazy, magical adventure all over again. You need to read this book to enjoy the journey it takes you on. Don’t look up what it is about, just open, read, and enjoy a beautifully crafted piece of work, that does what a good book should do - take you away on a wonderful adventure.
*I received this book from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.
“There was a saying about Barstow that Beth heard when she’d arrived from LA three years ago. The interstate here only goes in one direction: away. Nobody wants to be in Barstow and those who do, you don’t want to know.”
My thanks to Severn House for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Calico’ by Lee Goldberg.
Previous to this I have only read Goldberg’s collaborations with Janet Evanovich though knew that he had written many books.
From a quick look at the premise I thought this would be a straightforward police drama in which disgraced ex-LAPD detective, Beth McDade, is adjusting to her new life as a homicide detective with the Barstow Sheriff’s Department. I expected a murder or two though the plot quickly took a turn into X-Files territory.
At 02:00 on 2nd February 2019 a disoriented man stumbles into the road wailing, apparently terrified by the dinosaur sculptures at the rear of Peggy Sue’s jukebox-shaped diner. He is hit and killed by a motor home, whose driver had been briefly distracted by a lightning storm and the sound of an explosion at the nearby military base. The victim appears to be a transient as he is dressed in tattered, filthy clothing. He has no ID though there are a few old coins in his pockets.
Not long after Beth McDale is called out to a construction site where an old skeleton had been unearthed when ground was broken on a new project. The bones and casket appear to be over a hundred years old yet when a titanium elbow implant and two dental implants are found the investigation becomes stranger. The serial numbers come back to an Owen Slader, who has only recently been reported missing. The last pings on his phone and GPS were at 02:00 on February 2nd, 2019 quite close to where the man was run over.
Beth is determined to uncover the truth and as she does each discovery seems more shocking including uncovering a number of bizarre incidents that took place on the 2nd of February in other years. She also becomes aware that there are shadowy figures seeking to halt her investigation.
Meanwhile, in February 1882 a stranger walks out of the desert into the struggling mining town of Calico. When asked his name he says ‘Ben Cartwright’. Separated from everything he knows, he hopes that he can find a second chance in this strange old world.
The narrative moves between these two timelines, creating a work of speculative fiction that reminded me of the novels of the late Michael Crichton. As a reader of science fiction I had no difficulties with the SF themes in ‘Calico’ and felt that they were well integrated.
I enjoyed the scattered references that included the mysterious skeleton being nicknamed by Beth as ‘Marty McFly’ or the mentions in the 1880s by Ben Cartwright of aspects of 20th-century pop culture. This was especially ironic given that at first he recalled the plot of Ray Bradbury’s ‘A Sound of Thunder’ and checks the soles of his shoes to make sure that he hasn’t stepped on any butterflies.
Lee Goldberg has experience as a screenwriter and I found it quite a visual novel and could easily imagine it being adapted for the large or small screen.
I felt that Goldberg made good use of his Mojave desert settings in both time periods, drawing on his readers’ senses to create an immersive experience. Calico does exist and is an official ‘ghost town’ that has been built on the ruins of the original mining town. Barstow and the surrounding areas also exist, including Peggy Sue’s 1950s themed diner. I felt that by utilising real world locations Goldberg grounded his plot allowing for its more extraordinary aspects to feel more organic.
Overall, I enjoyed ‘Calico’ very much. While I am not a great fan of western novels, it was quite entertaining. There does seem scope for a sequel featuring further investigations for Beth McDade.
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This is a quite extraordinary book. Even when I've had to take a break from reading it I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.
A high octane thriller that manages to straddle genres including crime, mystery, police procedural, historical and science fiction. The pace is fast and furious but the author has still maintained excellent character development and there are many profoundly poignant moments in the plot.
From the very beginning there is a real sense of mystery and intrigue that is carefully manipulated into a crisis of extraordinary scope and individual pain.
I highly recommend this book and I will certainly be reading more novels by Lee Goldberg.
An unnatural weather event, a vehicular death, a disappearance, and other strange phenomena out on the California desert leaves a world-weary police detective with more questions than answers. Is the kook on the local radio waves far off when he spouts about government conspiracies and aliens?
Once in a while, all it takes is a title to spark my interest and Calico was just such a book. I’ve always been fascinated by and visiting old west mining ghost towns including old Calico though it did get turned into a tourist stop. I didn’t realize until I started reading that it was not just a thriller set in the Mojave desert, but a sci-fi thriller. Even better.
Calico is told by two narrators in two different circumstances, but Detective Beth McDade has the larger storyline. This world-weary woman made a huge faux pas when working the LAPD so she took one of the few posts in California still open to her, San Bernardino Sheriff’s Dept and remained a detective. Beth is painted as a nuanced character who reminds me of those old western book heroes that are quiet, keep to themselves, but rough and capable when the going gets tough. I enjoyed seeing her fight her way clear of her personal purgatory after she screwed up in LA and how the case was the jump start she needed to get back in the game as the solid detective she was.
Lee Goldberg is a new to me author, but if the depth of background and description he gave to this region of the Mojave and the history of Calico not to mention his main characters is his usual, I really must take in his whole backlist. The rich history and culture of the area was another character in the story. It was all I could have wanted when I spotted the title and wanted to read a story set there.
I will be vague about the sci-fi element and the narrative line of the second main character because it is a wonderful surprise to readers to see it unfold as Beth conducts her investigation. The reader gets a bigger picture and works it out before Beth, but it still had some great twists and surprises.
In summation, my impulse grab of Calico paid off and I thought this a fabulous read from start to finish that I can highly recommend to other sci-fi thriller lovers.
Truly mind-bending time travel in this well written novel. Jumping from the 1882 mining town of Calico in the desert near Las Vegas to current Barstow, California, modern day detective Beth McDade comes across conflicting information regarding bodies found in the Mojave. Fast paced and well characterized, recommended reading.
Calico was an unexpected, enjoyable treat. It begins with a hardboiled woman ex-LAPD detective, stuck in a desert station near Barstow. A routine traffic fatality is anything but that. There is a strange weather disturbance, a home invasion, a tight-mouthed military man and a grizzly bear spotted where none has been seen in almost 100 years. The fatality becomes even more mysterious when the victim’s clothes seem to be from the 1800s. What is going on here? Detective Beth needs to solve the mystery by suspending reason and embracing the weird. Or maybe reasoning is different and the weird really isn’t that weird. Goldberg slowly morphs this tale into a genre-twisting read going back to an old mining town and then back again and again. There is wit and heart, adventure, and peril. A great read to keep you up all night! Highly recommended – and a great cover. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this title.