Thursday, May 6, 2010
Walking the Perfect Square by Reed Farrel Coleman
I got this book for my mom for Christmas this past year. She is really into murder mysteries, and I had heard a review of this book / author on NPR several months earlier, so I decided to check it out. This is the first book in a series by Coleman, following ex-cop Moe Prager on some mysterious situations. This first book finds Prager, recently retired due to injury, looking for a missing college student, Patrick Maloney. The book is set in the late 70s Manhattan (and some surrounding areas) as well as modern day (well, at least 1998) and the chapters jump back and forth between the two times. Prager is a great character. The novel is written in first person, following Moe as he searches for the lost kid, getting involved in political corruption, solving unexplained situations, and making friends along the way. This was a great detective novel. It was well written, Prager is interesting and realistic, but he also has some faults. But he seems like a genuinely moral person, acting, a lot of the time, as the moral compass of the book. He's a hard drinker, but he's also a family man, keeping in touch with his brother and sister throughout the book, and making it a point to call his daughter on her birthday. He seems to genuinely like people, and "makes friends" with quite a few of the more bizarre characters. And he seems non-judgmental, which is hard to believe for an ex-NYPD! I thought this book was really excellent, for a number of reasons. The writing was believable and gritty, and almost written with a NY accent (can you do that?). The scenarios were not so out there that they were unbelievable: political corruption, friends selling you out, a lot of money changing hands, tragic consequences, etc. The majority of the story was wrapped up very nicely, and the narrator gives the reader a nice "what happened to whom" at the end of the book, making a tidy story. There were some aspects of the story that seemed a little bit more cheesy, or over-the-top, but that really didn't bother me. I couldn't put the book down and I was drawn into the novel almost as soon as I picked up the book. Plus, it's a book published by a small, independent press, which I love to support. If you're a fan of detective novels, give Coleman's work a try. I'm already into the second in this series and it looks just as good as the first!