Reed Coleman has been a praised master of PI fiction for years now and his Moe Prager series has been a fan-favorite. This novel gives us the chance to see just how Moe became the determined, principled and tough investigator we know.
It is 1967, Moe is a student in New York. His girlfriend is beaten into a coma, prompting the young man to investigate. It turns out his friend, Bobby, is also in danger and soon Moe as well.
Facing gangsters, anarchists and the challenges of becoming a man Moe has a tough time in store for himself that explains how he became a cop and a PI later.
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 and in fact some of the inventions that we take for granted right now. An interesting character study as well as a piece of good historical hardboiled fiction this one's recommended. Highly.
Tell us what to expect from your two new books, DIRTY WORK and ONION STREET.
DIRTY WORK is a very interesting project. It’s the first of two novellas featuring a little person (dwarf) PI named Gulliver Dowd. Gulliver is a bitter man whose cop sister has been murdered. Her murder has never been solved and Gulliver becomes a PI in order to find her killer. This hunt for his sister’s killer is the subtext to the story. The main case features a woman from Gulliver’s past who reveals a secret that can turn Gulliver’s world upside down. ONION STREET is the next to last Moe Prager Mystery and is a prequel set in 1967. It tells the story of how Moe became a policeman in the first place. It begins with his girlfriend being viciously beaten and left to die in the snow on a Brooklyn Street. Moe needs to find out why and who did it. And Moe learns for the first time that very little in life is as it seems.
How long did it take you to write them?
As DIRTY WORK is a novella, it took me about four or five weeks. ONION STREET took me about four months to write. But in all fairness, when you get to the eighth book in a series, even if it is a prequel, the canvas is already partially painted.
Tell us about how you were inspired to write them.
DIRTY WORK was sort of a creation between my agent, Bob Tyrrell at Raven Books—Rapid Reads, and myself. They’re a Canadian publisher whose market is the emerging or late to literacy reader. Those readers like hard-boiled and noir to. So they approached my agent who approached me about doing some books for them and I agreed. They loved Gulliver as a character and so do I. I think readers will love him too.
ONION STREET filled in a big gap in Moe Prager’s history that the fans have been curious about. It essentially tells the story of how the Moe readers know became Moe. I think readers, myself included, love to see the roots of how a character they identify with developed into that character. I have dropped hints throughout the course of the series, but I thought the time for hinting was over and to explore the origins of Moe more deeply.
Will we see Gulliver Dowd return after DIRTY WORK?
For at least one more adventure. I’ve written a second Gulliver Dowd entitled VALENTINO PIER. I hope readers respond as I hope they will to Gulliver because I really do enjoy writing him.
ONION STREET is the penultimate Prager novel. Will you be coming out with a new PI series to follow that up or would that be Gulliver?
Gulliver is a fun character, but I’m not sure I consider him a successor to Moe. I think I’d like to do some other type of writing for a while. I am halfway through with a Sci Fi YA novel and have an idea to write a more standard literary novel. But I love the PI form and I will probably always have a toe in the private detective genre.
Did writing the books take a lot of research?
In all honesty, I have always hated research. Google has made life much easier for someone like me. I try not to weight myself down with research. For me the thrill of fiction writing is making stuff up.
Let me answer that in reverse. The scenes I hate most, the ones I know most of my friends hate most, are bridge or transition scenes. Getting the reader from here to there can be awfully burdensome. I love writing scenes where the physical setting is a reflection or a foreshadowing of the action that will take place later in the novel. For instance, read any of my scenes that take place in Coney Island and you will know I loved writing those. I also can do dialogue in my sleep.
Who is your favorite among the characters in the books?
If I had to choose one character, I would choose Israel Roth. He’s the moral compass by which Moe steers his life. But Mr. Roth is terribly flawed and scarred. I just love him.
Is there anything else you'd like to say about the books?
Buy them! I’ve got a son in college and a daughter in graduate school.
With this novel Reed shows us again why he’s the crime writer’s writer.
Moe Prager has been diagnosed with stomach cancer, but that doesn’t hold him back from investigating the stabbing of his ex-wife’s sister.
There’s a lot of people out in NY that hated her, because she neglected her duties as a paramedic and let a man die in a restaurant. Uncovering her secrets Moe infiltrates into the macho world of the New York fire department. And it must be said, Moe might be getting old, he might be getting sicker and sicker but he can still be a pretty tough guy.
What makes this such a great PI novel is the fact it never strays from what makes the genre great but also adds more. The mystery is very satisfying but we also can read the story as social commentary, as a more literary view of a man fighting age and disease. Excellent work.