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Onion Street (Moe Prager Mystery) Paperback – May 18, 2013
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*Starred Review* Coleman’s latest—a prequel to the award-winning Moe Prager series—is a slam-dunk recommendation for readers drawn to smart, gritty crime fiction with label-defying characters. Onion Street chronicles Moe’s introduction to crime solving, showing him emerging from aimlessness and barreling toward purpose as his intuition for connecting crime dots is awakened. A Brooklyn College student in tumultuous 1967, Moe hasn’t become entangled in the radical movements sweeping campuses (mostly because he’s apathetic), but there’s no exemption from danger when chants give way to violence. After Moe’s activist girlfriend, Mindy, is found severely beaten, he has reason to doubt that the attack is a simple mugging. The night before, Moe ignored Mindy’s warning that he should avoid his best friend, Bobby, and they narrowly missed being hit by a rampaging Cadillac. Bobby’s been secretive lately, especially since his own girlfriend’s suspicious death, but when Bobby denies the events are connected, Moe knows he’s lying. Too curious to resist investigating, Moe is soon poking ata beehive of radical politics, drugs, thugs, cops, and Mob heavies. Exposing a well-loved character’s backstory can be risky, but Coleman manages the trick just fine, with setting and character nicely balancing plot and action. --Christine Tran --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"The seventh outing (after Hurt Machine) for PI (and former NYPD cop) Moe Prager makes an effective coming-of-age prequel, explaining how he got into police work in the first place. Coleman has won multiple awards for his gritty but soulful series, and this entry is of that same high caliber. Don't miss it." --Library Journal
"Coleman's latest - a prequel to the award-winning Moe Prager series - is a slam-dunk recommendation for readers drawn to smart, gritty, crime fiction with label-defying characters. Coleman . . . nicely balanc[es] plot and action." --Booklist, Starred Review
"Edgar-finalist Coleman's outstanding eighth Moe Prager mystery (after 2011's Hurt Machine) explains how the NYPD detective turned PI became a cop. The 2012 funeral of an old friend prompts Prager to recount the complex history he shared with the dead man, Bobby Friedman. The twists and turns are unpredictable, but Coleman pulls everything together by the end." --Publisher's WeeklyStarred Review
"Very entertaining company on the beach before the summer slips away." --Penthouse
"The story is exciting enough by itself, it's simply a good mystery story, but what makes it so great is the little pieces of foreshadowing of Prager's future . . . An interesting character study as well as a piece of good historical hardboiled fiction. This one's recommended. Highly." --Sons of Spade blog
"Moe Prager fans are in for a treat as novice crime fighter Moe attempts to solve this convoluted case, giving insight into the cop, PI, and man he eventually becomes. [Coleman] . . . paint[s] a setting so vividly that readers are immersed in the dreariness and despair of 1967 Brooklyn, makes for a book that's difficult to put down." --Mystery Scene Magazine
"There's a lot to enjoy here. It's a book that many Moe fans will enjoy. It's also one that newcomers might find interesting and, in case they don't already know, there's a lot to come if they become hooked." --Sea Minor blog
"For long-time fans of Prager and creator Reed Farrel Coleman, the novel sheds a new and welcome dimension on a long-admired and much-beloved protagonist. It provides a sharp and clearly defined literary snapshot of a tumultuous era . . . The element that I enjoyed most about the book was the manner in which it presented its host of street characters, all of whom had real-life counterparts in the life of anyone who was of age during the 1960s . . . Onion Street is worth reading for that reason alone." --BookReporter.com
"Coleman . . . use[s] the late Sixties, as well as [his] prose poet style, to look at [his] characters in fresh and exciting ways." --Mystery People
"The bones of this story is your typical noir, though Coleman, the master of the twist, never lets the story stray into formula. This story is very organic, and several details resonated with me. Freed from the constraints of a series, Coleman has written what is probably his best novel yet." --Edged in Blue
"A satisfying addition to the series, demonstrating Coleman's trademark humor, twisty plotting, well-developed characters, and an evocative and authentic portrait of the author's beloved Brooklyn. For those who have not yet discovered the series, Onion Street is an excellent place to start." --Reviewing the Evidence
"A deep moral story involving right and wrong . . . Moe’s various actions can be questioned, while his intentions are always honorable. All in all, it is a very human saga, and we get to know Moe a lot better in a serious way. Recommended." --Spinetingler Magazine
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Top Customer Reviews
It was a real blast getting to watch Moe solve his first case AND develop an interest in police work. The writing is wonderful. Of all eight Moe Prager books, there is not a loser in the bunch. Each is populated by intriguing, complex characters and bristling with sharp dialogue and twisty plots. This is a great series, and this prequel is tremendous. If you haven't read any of the series you could certainly read this one first, followed by Walking the Perfect Square and the rest, or you could read them in the order written. The advantage of the latter option is that you can see the beginnings of some of Moe's later ideas and situations. We're already hearing Aaron plan to open a wine shop with Moe as his partner. That guy really DID have his act together early!
If you're a fan of the series, this is a terrific addition to the canon. If you haven't tried these yet, you're in for a treat with Moe Prager, Jewish Coney Island cop and PI, here at the very beginning of his career -- a wise, decent guy who may not be good at planning business enterprises, but someone who is already smart, knows people, and has a strong sense of justice. This modern noir series is fantastic, and I think the best American competition to the great police procedurals coming out of Scandinavia lately.
In "Onion Street", the earliest Moe is planted in the 1960s among war protests and radical bombings. It was a time when the cops were tougher because they could get away with it and young men went to college so they wouldn't get drafted. The Hippie's were there, but Moe Prager wasn't one of them. Moe is just a bored college student trying to live a life. Moe and his friend Bobby are nearly murdered by automobile. The same night, his girl friend is mugged and put into a state of unconsciousness. Moe is angry and determined to find who mugged his girlfriend and tried to mangle him and Bobby with an automobile. His efforts lead to danger involving the anti-war underground and drugs--and not just marijuana. The book shows many who may not know it a slice of our history, and reminds those of us who were there how it was.
Coleman has a way of keeping us with him, following him every step of the way. We get angry when Moe gets angry and afraid when Moe is afraid. By the end of the book though, you know that Moe will find what he needs. He solves the mystery, and at the end, he is introduced to his career as a police officer, which is the prelude to him becoming the caring, poetic, PI he is through the series.
Coleman found a way to wrap up his series so that no other Moe Prager novel seems possible. If there is one, though, I will read it.