SHOREWOOD — In Matt Goldman’s fictional world, Christmas Lake in Shorewood is the site of a gruesome murder.
Goldman’s novel “The Shallows” is the third book in his series featuring Detective Nils Shapiro, a Twin Cities-based private detective. In the book, Shapiro is tasked with solving the murder of a lawyer, whose body is found in Christmas Lake near his home.
“The Shallows” was released on June 4, 2019, tying Goldman’s murderous plot to the Lake Minnetonka area.
The road to authorship
Long before writing his Lake Minnetonka-area novel, Goldman went out to Los Angeles at age of 24 to write for television — successfully writing for the show “Seinfeld” and several other sit-coms.
In 2015, Goldman started writing his first book, “Gone to Dust,” while living in Los Angeles. The novel introduced readers to Minnesotan crime-solver Nils Shapiro.
“When I started reading crime fiction, I was really surprised to figure out that when you have a crime at the center of your story, your characters don’t have to carry the whole weight of the story,” Goldman said. “It just keeps moving and it frees them up to just be people.”
Goldman, who grew up in the St. Louis Park area, told Lakeshore Weekly News he missed Minnesota so he decided to base his novel here. In February 2018, Goldman moved back to Minnesota full-time. He now lives in Edina.
“I love it here,” Goldman said of Minnesota. “I wanted to write about a place that I love because it made me feel connected to here when I couldn’t be here. Even though there is great crime fiction based here by plenty of good authors, it’s not nearly as much as Los Angeles so I felt I had a little more of a blank canvas to work with.”
“Gone to Dust” ended up on the New York Times Best Seller list and was nominated for a Shamus Award and a Nero Award. Goldman’s publisher, Forge Publishers, gave him a deal to write three more Nils Shapiro novels.
Goldman’s books take Shapiro all over the Twin Cities. “Gone to Dust” starts in Edina and “Broken Ice,” the second book in the series, starts in St. Paul. “The Shallows” is Goldman’s first book to have Lake Minnetonka ties.
Goldman spent a lot of time in the Lake Minnetonka area growing up — having friends who lived on and around the lake, he said. Several chapters are set on Christmas Lake and one is set at Maynards Restaurant in Excelsior.
Goldman also created a fictional police department to investigate the murder at the center of the novel — the Greater Lake Minnetonka Police Department, loosely named after the South Lake Minnetonka Police Department but not at all modeled after it.
Goldman has done several events in the area in recent months, such as visiting local book clubs for question-and-answer sessions and to do readings at Excelsior Bay Books.
He enjoys the engagement readers have with his novels — particularly locally, where readers may recognize landmarks in his stories, Goldman said.
That being said, people from all over can and have enjoyed his work, he said, noting readers don’t have to be from Minnesota.
“I think that any books that have a strong sense of place feel grounded — even if it’s not a real place, like on ‘Game of Thrones,’” Goldman said. “But if it feels like a real world to people, then people who don’t know it want to be brought into that world, people who do know it, think it’s fun.”
Goldman just finished up another book that is not part of the Nils Shapiro series — it’s a historical fiction novel. He told the paper he plans to keep writing mystery books, but he’s branching out as well as he hopes one day to be able to write comedy novels.
The fourth Nils Shapiro novel will be released next year.
“The Shallows” and Matt Goldman’s other books can be found at Excelsior Bay Books, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com and other book retailers.