Monday, June 25, 2012

Spent the Weekend with Moe Prager! 2 Reviews for Reed Farrel Coleman

Reed Farrel Coleman
"I undressed and showered. The shower wasn't so much to rinse away the sweat and grime, but to wash off the remnants of the people with whom I'd shared the day. It's no wonder that good cops sometimes turn to the darkness. When you spend more time with the worst people imaginable than with your family, it rubs off on you. You can't go down into the sewer and not come up smelling like shit yourself. If I could have scrubbed out the linings of my lungs, I would have. I remembered talking with Mr. Roth about the camps, about how he said the worst part of it all was the breathing...
Reed Farrel Coleman (Photo credit: Mark Coggins)

Hurt Machine 
 A Moe Prager Mystery

By Reed Farrel Coleman

I happened to pick up Hurt Machine first of the two Moe Prager books I had received. Innocent Monster is the second... I'm not one of those readers who must read series books in sequence, and, in this case, I was happy that I read the latest book first. Prager is a very introspective main character and Coleman writes from his POV. I had to wonder how much of Prager was really Reed Coleman, since readers begin to feel as if we know Moe and would like to discuss some of the issues he explores personally, if only we could...

Hurt Machine leaves readers hanging as to Moe's future. I'm hoping the series goes on, and will be looking forward to it. You see, Moe has a tumor in his stomach and throughout the book, we are privy to all of Moe's feelings as he deals with, first, the realization that his life may be soon cut short, and then through all of the myriad of issues that must flow through our minds, if we were in a similar situation. To a small extent, yes, it is depressing, but in so many more ways, it is inspirational, in its realism as an individual decides how to deal with his future.

Moe works a case, mostly because he was asked to by his ex-wife and former PI partner Carmella. He has never lost his physical attraction to Carmella, but he still had not forgiven her from taking his son Israel away from him and moving to Canada.There is a poignant story line that runs through the book about their history that shares much of Moe himself as he ponders his past and we learn that Moe is a caring, family oriented man that can forgive even if he doesn't forget. But he works to avoid his attraction, even while agreeing to do the investigation Carmella has requested.

Alta, Carmella's older sister had been murdered. She was an EMT and she and her partner had gotten into trouble when they had refused to help when a man had passed out in a restaurant and then died... Later, in a different restaurant, she had entered and died, having been attacked outside. Carmella was upset because it didn't seem that the police were doing much to find out who had killed her. Worse, many were saying that she deserved it!

Prager is looking forward to his daughter's wedding in a few weeks, deciding not to tell her about the cancer; but, during this investigation, as he looked tired and had lost weight, he did share a little. For what he was finding was much more than the basic murder. He had to explore the histories of all those involved, helping in some ways, but, in the end, he once again stumbled into what had actually happened to Alta...

Moe admits that he is not a good investigator--he gets hunches, he plods along, and sometimes stumbles into much more than he had ever thought to become involved with. For readers, what that means is that we have a complex, twisted mystery to which pieces are slowly added. Thus keeping the tension edgy and constant...

Coleman claimed me as his newest fan when I finished this...No wonder he's an award-winning author! If you, like me, had not yet read Reed Farrel Coleman, I highly recommend that you do!

"What do you want me to say?"
"I want you to say you'll go talk to Candy...She wants
 to hire you to help find Sashi..."
"Sarah, You're precisely why I won't do it. I'll take the
guilt over Katy's murder to my grave, but that guilt's just
background noise compared to the hurt I've felt for the last
seven years over what happened between us. Even in the
worst of times, when your mom miscarried, when our
marriage collapsed, when my friend Larry Mac committed
suicide, I always had you and your love to hang on to. We
were a team, me and you kiddo. You were always the best
part of me and as long as you loved me, I knew there was
hope in the world. Well, the world and me, we've kinda
parted ways since you parted ways with me..."
"It was the first time she had let down the barrier between
us since we buried Katy, and I knew right then there would
be no thinking about it. I was back in the game."
Innocent Monster
 A Moe Prager Mystery

By Reed Farrel Coleman

Moe Prager, in his 60s, had been a cop until he had his knee shattered. He went into the PI business for awhile and then retired to work with his brother as owners of wine businesses. He is quite bored with what he does in the latter, so when he agreed to join him, he made arrangements that he could take a case whenever Moe wanted to. This time, his brother didn't seem to mind.

He knew that his daughter must have already talked to him...

For it was Sarah who had come to him, asking that he take the case of finding the daughter of a former neighbor who had once babysat Sarah. Moe had known that it had to be important; after all, Sarah had pulled away from her father years ago...when her mother had been killed and she had blamed him.

Now she was coming to him because a little girl was missing, possibly already dead, since she had been gone for three weeks. Still, in that type of situation, it was almost as important to find out, to be sure.

But, once again, Moe was finding out much more than he ever wanted to know about people. He had never liked Max Bluntstone, Sashi's father and when Moe first talked to Candy, it was alone and he quickly knew that Max did not know that she had contacted Moe.

Sashi had started painting when he was very young and now she was being touted as a prodigy. But there were many critics of her work, not only that she might not be painting, or was being helped, and also that even if she was painting them, she could not possibly know that she was painting in abstract mode and understand what it was she was painting. So, naturally, Moe had to find out more about her critics, as well as her parents. He soon found out that the parents were nearly close to bankruptcy.

Then there were those who claimed Sashi as a prodigy, purchasing her works as investments. They, too, could have been involved. After all, the rumors had already started that the works of dead artists automatically became more valuable...

Moe's interviews were stirring up trouble and his car was demolished. The police investigator was ecstatic since that showed that somebody was getting nervous...

Moe meets a new love interest in this novel, who carries over into Hurt Machine. Her story is another family subplot and a young man enter's Moe's life, as well as Sarah's. The back stories are dramatic additions to the mystery and helps readers to learn more and care about the characters. Moe's self-awareness and internal communication is a very important addition to these books. Readers can't help but come to love him and want the best for him and his daughter.

Now here is my only quandary about this new character...Normally, I would go back and pick up the earlier books in the series and get to know the main character even more....but what if we are nearing the end, per Hurt Machine. I would hate to have him gone just as I was getting to know him...Hmmmm, any others reading Moe Prager? What should I do? In the meantime,

Innocent Monster is a unique perspective of those who criticize, sometimes based on nothing more than their own opinions or losses and sometimes due to mental illness. Can an innocent monster kill? And can solving a case help the innocent? Surprise ending was not to my liking and many readers will be disappointed to... Coleman creates characters that we want to win--sometimes they just don't... Highly recommended!



Reed Farrel Coleman is the award-winning author of the Moe Prager series and other novels.
Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR's Maureen Corrigan, Reed Farrel Coleman is the former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America. He has published twelve novels—two under his pen name Tony Spinosa—in three series, and one stand-alone with award-winning Irish author Ken Bruen. His books have been translated into seven languages.
Reed is a three-time winner of the Shamus Award for Best Detective Novel of the Year. He has also received the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards, and has been twice nominated for the Edgar® Award. He was the editor of the anthology Hard Boiled Brooklyn, and his short fiction and essays have appeared in Wall Street Noir, The Darker Mask, These Guns For Hire, Brooklyn Noir 3, Damn Near Dead, and other publications.
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