on June 24, 2011
Reed Farrell Coleman is today;s best American mystery writer. I got to know him through The James Deans. I had no idea what I was in for. Like Raymond Chandler or Henning Mankell, the mystery matters but the people and the culture around them matter more. Coleman is unusual in that his protagonist, Moe Prager, ages and develops and is not eternally a 25 year old super hero. What is going on around Moe is what is going on in today's world seen through the eyes of a brilliant observer. In Innocent Monster Moe turns his perceptive eye on parents who live their lives through their children's real and imagined accomplishments, with a surprising and yet right outcome. Read it or miss one of the few books this year that will be remembered by generations to come.
on August 8, 2011
"Innocent Monster" by Reed Farrel Coleman is a classic detective mystery novel. It takes place in contemporary times with the setting in New York City.
This novel is a Sixth (7th due out in December) for the author with the main character 'Moe Prager". It follows generally the same writing style as similar types of books of this genre. The story is narrated by the protagonist, Moe Prager and is reminisent of the old "Sam Spade" series where the detective talks his way though his adventure.
The story is about a child artist who is abducted and the twists and turns of events that occur as Moe Prager attempts to solve the mystery surrounding her disappearance. The setting in New York City (and Long Island) provide a vivid backdrop for the tale. There is an ample abundance of peculiar characters in the story that provide the requisite distraction from what really happened so the reader is continually 'pulled in' with false leads.
I thought the book was ok. It was written well enough to keep me reading to the conclusion. There was nothing particularly memorable about the novel. Moe Prager as a character is not an endearing soul although likeable enough in this story. I did have some problems with the missing young artist in that her character was not really played up satisfactorily. The reader almost has no sympathy for her and this takes away from the underlying motivation to find her.
In all I liked the novel. I would recommend it for a light summer read. If you are at the beach you can put it down and pick it up again and continue right along from where you left off.
A predominant theme of this wonderful new novel by Reed Farrel Coleman is guilt, something of which there is more than enough to go around, and which plagues several of the characters, not least of whom is the protagonist, Moe Prager. Moe [as are most New Yorkers] is still feeling the aftershock of 9/11; unable to deal with the murder of his first wife [from whom he had been divorced], seven years prior, for which he still feels responsible, and which.had in turn led to his continuing estrangement from his adored daughter, Sarah; morose following the end of his second marriage after six years, which had also caused him to close his p.i. office, in which his ex-wife had been a partner. He now, with his brother, owns several successful wine shops in and around the metro New York area, from Brooklyn to the Hamptons. All that changes when Sarah asks Moe to speak with a woman who was her best friend, role model and babysitter when Sarah was a child, about the disappearance of the woman's young daughter, a prodigy in the art world at four years of age, now only 11.
Moe, though now 60 and out of the NYPD for thirty years, cannot refuse his daughter, and he takes on the search for the possibly kidnapped child, now gone for three weeks; as he says, he is "back in the game," hoping that at the end there will be two daughters restored to their families. The title derives from something Moe is told by a possible suspect: "Beware the innocent monster, Mr. Prager, for it need not hide itself and lives closely among us."
The book is totally engaging from page one. The plot is intriguing; the characters well-drawn; the ending stunning. I've read most of Mr. Coleman's prior books and loved them all. The 2008 "Empty Ever After" stayed with me long after I'd read the last page, and I suspect this newest novel will as well. [And it's not just the fact I grew up, as did Prager, a Brooklyn Jew who still remembers all the neighborhoods where the investigation takes Moe, the original Nathan's Famous in Coney Island, the villainous departure of the Dodgers in 1957, and now roots for the Mets in Flushing.] The book revolves around the [mostly] enduring love of family. The writing is terrific, and the book is highly recommended.
on June 9, 2011
Call me a slow learner, hard-headed or whatever term applies but I read my first Moe Prager novel, Innocent Monster when it was released in October 2010.
Slow learner or hard-headed because I met Mr. Coleman in 2007 at the pre-launch party for the LA Festival of Books at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood and did not immediately become a fan. I remember carrying around a stack of signed books from my favorite authors who was in attendance and Mr. Coleman saying to me, "You need to collect me." Thinking he wanted to sell a few books I bought "The James Deans" and "Soul Patch" which had just been released. These promptly went and sat unread in my bookcases from 2007 until October 2010.
The dustcover jacket of "Innocent Monster" caught my eye and after reading the blurb on the inside flaps, I chose to give it a try, unlike the two previous offerings I had bought.
Mr. Coleman has been called a poet and I can see that as well as the poetic justice that he hands out in his novels. Moe Prager is a divorced ex-cop forced to retire after a knee injury and now a lone P.I.. He is a great character with a unique sense of humor, a lover of the past, the way things were, haunted by what could have been as he tries to restore a father's relationship with his daughter. Moe Prager is the best.
Mr. Coleman's ability to grasp the reader from page one is remarkable, the words flowing with the prose that keeps you turning the pages.
After reading "Innocent Monster", I frantically pulled my other two titles and buckled myself in for the ride. I have since purchased all of Reed Farrel Coleman's and am anxiously awaiting his next book.
I read somewhere that someone had said something to the effect of,"Reed Farrel Coleman is the best writer no one has heard of." I tend to agree but I know that like me there are many slow learners. Take my advice buy his books now, become a fan before everyone finds him as they surely will.
Mr. Coleman has won the Anthony, Barry, and Shamus Awards for his Moe Prager P.I. series. Innocent Monster
on September 9, 2011
Holy Moly! I don't mind a flawed protagonist, but this guy is pathetic! Moe Prager spends much of this novel rolling around in a pity party and imbibing boose and guilt. I felt that I was watching a twelve step group instead of observing a detective at work.
And convenient coincidences! An author is allowed a convenient coindidence of two, of course, but I defy anyone to view the final ending of this book as anything but contrived. Gee, without giving away too much (the reader will have been way ahead of this one anyway) just how did those three people find themselves in that particular place at that particular time?
Oh, and cherchez la femme, but you will have figured that one out, too.
I went with two stars because I read it to the end so something kept me turning pages, and I give some credit for that.
I ordered this book from Amazon Vine not realizing it is a series of books with Investigator Moe Prager. Had I known I would have started with one of the earlier books. Though Moe seems to be an interesting character there is a lot in the book that is difficult to appreciate without reading the first books.
Sashi Blumstone is a child prodigy that disappeared. Sashi's mother (Cindy) happens to be the best friend of Moe's daughter (Sara) so he is asked to investigate her disappearence after the police have found nothing in 3 weeks.
Moe had given up his investigative business but decides to take this one pro bono. Sashi had first become famous at the age a four for one of her paintings and her fame continued until her disappearence. As Moe investigates he is drawn into a world of sleazy art dealers and collecters, many whom both hated Sashi and still coveted her paintings.
Moe comes across a security guard (Jimmy Palumbo), an ex-football player and decides to hire him to be his muscle to maybe "shake" some information out of some of his suspects. One of the "shaken" suspects gives them a whole bunch of names to check out. Not too long after the mystery appears solved but the "solution" leaves Moe cold, kind of like the mystery of how bees can fly. Moe never lets this go until he eventulally finds all his answers.
I really tried to like this book but there were too many references to the prior tales, especially with Moe's first two wives that it I wanted a lot more info to get insight into Moe. There were also several "uncomfortable" moments in the book especially involving Cindy and the ending of the book left me shaking my head. Therefore, I couldn't give this book more than 3 stars.
Reed Farrel Coleman's "Innocent Monster" is the sixth Moe Prager mystery and the second that I have read. I was enjoying the author's "Hurt Machine," the seventh in the series when I jumped at the opportunity to read and review this one.
Moses Prager is a flawed, interesting and likeable character who I can identify with. He is a former New York Cop, turned sleuth, turned wealthy partner with his brother selling wine in their two stores. He is no stranger to tragedy. Both he and his daughter, Sarah blame him for his the events that led to Katy, his first wife, being murdered six years earlier.
Still reeling from Katy's murder, he married his, PI business partner, Carmella then pregnant with another man's child. Having bonded with Carmella's son, Israel, divorce and loss of a child who would never remember him added to his woes.
When the opportunity to repair the relationship with his estranged daughter presented itself, he ignored his deep seated desire to distance himself from his past and agreed to investigate the disappearance and likely murder of Candy Bluntstone's 11-year-old daughter, Sashi. Candy is Sarah's childhood friend who is married to Sashi's father, Max who knows she is having an affair with another man.
Max and Candy have been financially dependent on the sales of their child prodigy artist's paintings. There are many who resent Sarah's rapid stardom and still more who would benefit greatly by her death.
At 60 and out of practice, Moe finds a way to untangle the mystery while wading through the deception and arrogance of many strange, dangerous, unsavory and mysterious suspects to this heretofore unsolvable crime much to the dismay and frustration that Detective Jordan McKenna of the Nassau County Police Department has experienced with the case.
Meanwhile, Moe meets and develops an amorous relationship with a mysterious woman that he will not soon forget.
Coleman is a master of pace, suspense and character development who knows how to keep the reader flipping pages from beginning to end.
Like "Hurt Machine" I enjoyed this story and the author's writing style that kept me glued to my chair and surprised by the twists and turns in this whodunit.
on September 27, 2011
I would give Innocent Monster 4 1/2 stars if it were an option. The writing is excellent. The protagonist Moe is a great character. In the best tradition of hardboiled fiction, Moe is worldly and brings some wisdom to the party. The minor characters are well-executed, the social criticism is appropriate, and the victim who we don't really meet is very symptathetic. It's definitely worth reading.
What keeps me from going "5-star" are not weaknesses in the character or the comedy of manners aspect, but just in the mystery plot component of the story. Simply, disbelief is stretched. The ending is clever and a surprise, but few people lose a finger without the fear and pain that's missing completely. How that event came about is never explained at all and due to that missing finger the conclusion is implausible. You don't notice in the moment, but it's like an aftertaste. You realize later that aspect of the book didn't make much sense. Serendipity also lends a hand in a final violent episode that's gratuitous and struck me as a false note. I would shrug off the last point, but since the other implausibility impacts the greater plot structure, it can't be shrugged off. Still, it's a rare book with heart that makes you think. Some of the strong observations, even relating to the title, really stay with you. So imho it's 4 1/2 stars.
on July 21, 2011
As a mystery lover and obsessive reader, I am surprised that I have never run across this amazing author and only did because this book was offered as a Kindle freebie. Grab it right now while it's free, you won't be sorry. Or grab it if it's not free anymore, it's an excellent read. It is a mid-series book but reads just fine without having read the other ones. There's enough backstory given so that we know who the characters are and how they relate to each other.
Several much more eloquent reviewers have already talked about the excellent writing, the great plot and the wonderful characters. I can only chime in with a "me too!" Love the Moe Prager character; he's 60 years old and he's real, not a young hunk action hero.
And it's a who dunnit that was a complete surprise. But to me it was more about the characters than the mystery. Even so, the story is very good and there's enough action to keep thriller readers entertained.
This is the 6th in the Moe Prager series but the first one I came read. I started reading this and it soon became apparent that there were some major spoilers here if I wanted to read earlier books in the series - which I did, very much. So I set this book aside and read the earlier books in sequence. Now that I've read the whole series (I believe that no more are planned) I can see that I probably could have read them in any order. They are all about the past being still here in the present. I have no idea how the books were created but is as if they were all envisioned at once and all the pieces of the story interlock and are seen and re-seen from many angles.
It's a wonderful series, highly recommended. I don't know how these have escaped popular notice for so long.
Here's the series in order:
Walking the Perfect Square: A Moe Prager Mystery (Wheeler Large Print Book Series) (2002)
Redemption Street (2004)
The James Deans (Moe Prager Mysteries) (2005)
Soul Patch (2007)
Empty Ever After (2008)
Innocent Monster (2010)
Hurt Machine (2011)