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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb crime novel from one of the genre's best
Reed Farrel Coleman wrote one of the best crime novels of the past few years, "The James Deans," which was nominated for virtually every mystery award there is, and won quite a few of them. Now Coleman is wearing a slightly different hat: that of a man called Tony Spinosa.

Regardless of what name he's using, though, you know that Coleman/Spinosa is going to...
Published on November 1, 2006 by David Montgomery

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Murder in the Heating Oil Biz
I got this book as a freebie and after letting it sit around for a year, thought I'd give it twenty pages or so to grab me. I can't say that it out and out grabbed me, but it certainly held my attention enough to keep reading, even as some of the story slipped into cliché territory. I do like it when crime stories take me into a world I know nothing about, and the...
Published on May 13, 2008 by A. Ross


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb crime novel from one of the genre's best, November 1, 2006
This review is from: Hose Monkey (Hardcover)
Reed Farrel Coleman wrote one of the best crime novels of the past few years, "The James Deans," which was nominated for virtually every mystery award there is, and won quite a few of them. Now Coleman is wearing a slightly different hat: that of a man called Tony Spinosa.

Regardless of what name he's using, though, you know that Coleman/Spinosa is going to produce quality, literate fiction that probes the depths of the human soul in the form of an outstanding mystery plot. "Hose Monkey," his latest, is no exception.

Joe Serpe was an NYPD detective, an honest copy, but one who covered too often for those who were less than pure, especially his drug-involved partner. Serpe lost his job with the PD, then tragically he lost his brother, a hero fireman who died on 9/11. After that, Serpe lost most of his reasons for trying, and now he just muddles through life, existing from day to day, but not really caring. He can't even bring himself to remove his brother's voice from his answering machine.

That starts to change, however, when a mentally retarded young man whom Serpe works with -- he's a fuel oil deliveryman, hence the book's title -- is murdered, and Serpe blames himself. He decides to investigate the murder, and finds an unlikely ally in the form of a retired Internal Affairs detective -- the very same cop who ran Serpe off the force several years before.

The plot of "Hose Monkey" is violent and suspenseful, but at its heart it is a quieter story, both sad and touching, and exquisitely written. Coleman has the ability to create characters who feel much realer than those we usually encounter in mystery stories, and as a result, their lives and their plights are much more moving. We care about them, because he has made them matter to us.

It is that aspect of Coleman's work (and now Spinosa's) that makes it rise to the top. Despite his excellence as a crime novelist, deep down Coleman is still a poet, and his work sings with a love of language and a keen understanding of the human psyche. He is a true credit to our genre, one of the finest writers we have.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Murder in the Heating Oil Biz, May 13, 2008
This review is from: Hose Monkey (Hardcover)
I got this book as a freebie and after letting it sit around for a year, thought I'd give it twenty pages or so to grab me. I can't say that it out and out grabbed me, but it certainly held my attention enough to keep reading, even as some of the story slipped into cliché territory. I do like it when crime stories take me into a world I know nothing about, and the early parts of the book do that quite well.

We meet ex-NYPD detective Joe Serpe as he goes about his work as a cash-in-hand delivery man for a small Long Island heating oil company. Serpe was booted off the force several years ago on corruption charges, and lost his wife and son in the resulting divorce. And if that wasn't enough, his firefighter younger brother who took him in during those dark days was killed during 9-11. Through Joe, author Spinosa (a pseudonym for Reed Farrel Coleman) explains the ins and outs of the home oil business, setting things up.

Then the story moves into somewhat conventional territory, as a young mentally handicapped worker at the oil company is found dead and Serpe feels obligated to poke into the matter. Eventually he teams up with the retired internal affairs officer who destroyed his career, whom he coincidentally met while making his delivery rounds. Both are stock figures, tough but emotionally adrift ex-cops who manage to find something meaningful in their private joint investigation. And when a good-looking, straight-talking psychiatrist appears in the story, it's not too hard to guess that she'll turn into Serpe's love interest.

Spinosa develops the story at a good pace -- not too fast, not too slow -- as the two former cops run down various leads and the plot twists and turns. The knifing death of an illegal immigrant spurs them to look at a pro-America protest group operating in the area, and the suspicious disappearance of a bullying worker from the local mental health facility also catches their attention. All the while, they have to keep out of the way of the real cops, who don't appreciate any interference. The book starts to get a little weak toward the end, as the duo are able to call upon all manner of connections for favors in solving the murder. And when the identity of the real villains is revealed, it's kind of disappointingly cliché -- even if the scam at the heart of it all is kind of interesting and new.

All in all, not great, but not bad -- a decent, average crime story that passes the time well enough, but is unlikely to leave much of an impression. For those that enjoy it a little more than I did, there's a sequel, The Fourth Victim.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reviewing: "Hose Monkey" by Tony Spinosa, July 19, 2009
By 
This review is from: Hose Monkey (Hardcover)
Mid February 2004 finds Long Island, New York cold and dreary. So too is the life of former NYPD Detective Joe Serpe. His life is a wreckage of shattered dreams and hopes. His fifteen year marriage has collapsed with no hope of reconciliation. His former partner committed suicide during a police corruption investigation that took both of their jobs and ended any chance of having a career in law enforcement. Then, there is his brother, Vinny, a firefighter who died running for his life as Tower One fell. Vinny had been the only one to stand by him while his life crumbled and it was Vinny who took him into his home where he had no other place to go but the streets. Vinny's home became Joe Serpe's with Vinny's death and his voice still plays daily on the outgoing message on the phone answering machine. Joe Serpe's existence has shrunk down to living as a ghost of his former self while he delivers home heating oil by day and drinks Vodka heavily each night.

Also dealing with loss is Bob Healy who lost his wife Mary to pancreatic cancer. His period of loss has been shorter, only six months, but it is just as painfully deep. He's trying to adjust, not only to her loss, but to doing all the things she used to routinely take care of which includes getting the heating oil delivered. He also was the lead Internal Affairs Detective on Serpe's case.

By coincidence or stroke of luck, Joe Serpe ends up making a delivery to Healy's home. That visit rekindles bitterness between the two men as well as long unfinished business. At almost the same time a mentally handicapped coworker of Joe's is killed. The local police figure it to be the work of gangs. Joe disagrees and before long Joe Serpe and Bob Healy are in contact and soon grudgingly working together to find justice for the dead while trying to bury their burdens from the past.

You may not have heard of Tony Spinosa. If you have heard of Reed Farrel Coleman the author who has a slew of awards for his Moe Prager series ("Walking The Perfect Square" and others) then you will be interested in his pseudonym Tony Spinosa. This book is a far different book than the Moe Prager series though familiar themes are again present here.

Grittier in all aspects, this first novel in the Joe Serpe series features tough language, graphic violence and a man at the proverbial end of the line in many ways. Joe is just going through the motions of a bare existence that is empathetically painful for the reader. His depression and anger at the world fueled nightly by Vodka figuratively drips off of the pages in the first half of the book.

Guilt is a powerful motivator and Joe has plenty to feel guilty about. Love is a powerful motivator as well and that works on Joe almost as well as the guilt does. Once Joe begins to come alive as a human being again along with being an investigator, he becomes a threat to others. Readers quickly learn just how good a cop Joe was back in the day.

Written in a third person tough guy style far different than the Moe Prager series, this complex intriguing read blends plenty of mystery, violence, and the beginnings of a romance into a hard hitting story.

Kevin R. Tipple (copyright) 2009
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars - Better than good, June 3, 2008
By 
L. J. Roberts (Oakland, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Hose Monkey (Hardcover)
First Sentence: Joe Serpe just assumed there was no more, that things had moved well beyond loss and grief, beyond worsening.

Ex-cop Joe Serpe had been dismissed from his job, his partner committedsuicide, his wife divorced him and moved, with his son, to Florida and his younger brother, Vinnie, killed in 9/11. The only thing he has left is his cat, Milligan.

Joe is just getting by delivering heating oil when he finds the murdered body of the young, retarded man, who was his hose monkey--someone who handles the hose on the oil truck. This final straw is enough to jolt Joe back to action, investigating Cain's murder with the help of Bob Healy, a retired IA cop who played a major part in Joe being fired from the force.

Spinosa is definitely the darker side of Reed Coleman but the same high quality of writer is there.

The story starts simple but increases in complexity as it increases in suspense, although it was a little over-complicated. Coleman knows how to create real, interesting characters and give the reader an insight into their emotions.

I do have a bit of a problem with the classic hasn't-been-in-a- relationship-for-a-long-time-but-suddenly-am-in-love thing. The best relationship was that between Serpe and Healy. I really enjoyed the dynamic it brought to the book.

This isn't my favorite book by Coleman/Spinosa, but I liked it well enough that I shall definitely read another.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, Fast Read, December 5, 2012
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This review is from: Hose Monkey (Kindle Edition)
This was a good murder mystery - good characters and well written dialogue. The voice came through well. I would read another by this author.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hose monkey, October 10, 2012
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Great book. Always kept you wondering. Who was the bad guy. Real short and great book. Loved the story. Can't wait to read More from this author.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Skeptical but surprised, May 11, 2012
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This review is from: Hose Monkey (Kindle Edition)
I was leary about the title but also intrigued. Having never read this author I was quite pleased. Good story telling. Characters defined quickly putting crisp images in my head. Reminded me somewhat of Robert B. Parker. Will definitely purchase more Coleman novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fast read, April 17, 2012
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This review is from: Hose Monkey (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed the pace of the book, who done its are one of my favorite reads. I have never read this author before, now I will be sure to look for more of Colemans books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hose Monkey review, April 13, 2012
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This review is from: Hose Monkey (Kindle Edition)
This book was another of those wonderful free Kindle books from Amazon. The books are great because you are introduced to many authors that are unknown to me.
This story, Hose Monkey was a great story that includes a mystery, love and friendship. It was a very good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hose Monkey, April 13, 2012
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This review is from: Hose Monkey (Kindle Edition)
The author did an excellent job writing this book. Keeps you wanting to turn the pages to see what happens next. Well worth the time.
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Hose Monkey
Hose Monkey by Reed Farrel Coleman
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