The International Writers Magazine: Review: The Moe Prager
By Reed Farrel Coleman
A Laura Jones review
rare talent for capturing everyday human traits.'
1983, and once again we join ex NYPD cop Moe Prager, back
in Colemans third instalment and raring to go and
sure enough within the first two pages his P.I skills are to be
put back into practice as another case that needs solving is bestowed
Prager is approached at a wedding by the brides father,
Mr Geary, who enlightens him on an unsolved mystery concerning
a missing girl.
Two years ago Moira
Heaton, a young intern, disappeared without a trace. Moira had worked
for State Senator Steven Brightman, who had been tarred with a brush
of suspicion and contempt since her disappearance, something that could
ruin his political career unless his name was cleared. Everyone wanted
Prager delves around and unveils interesting new truths about Moira's
disappearance, which had initially been overlooked by the police and
Brightmans other hired investigators. During his investigation he is
given a chance to rejoin the NYPD, a seemingly exciting offer, but also
suspiciously convenient to distract him.
A perfect suspect is found who admits to murdering Moira mystery
solved or is it? The solution seems just too easy, too perfect,
and Prager quickly guesses that hes been led astray and wound
up with the wrong culprit.
Moira's father is avoiding him, and his so-called associates are telling
him lies. Prager soon discovers that a much more sinister secret has
been hidden by a powerful group of friends for many years, who will
stop at nothing to keep him quiet. As he nears the discovery of the
true killer, tensions rise and gunshots soon echo around Miamis
streets. Pragers ingenuity is tested to the extreme as he battles to
unveil this conspiracy.
THE JAMES DEANS takes us from New York to Jersey, in and out of back
street alleys and seedy strip joints and to meet an array of characters;
from the sarcastic Klaus to the feisty local stripper, Domino. It is
inspired by the Chandra Levy case, which creates an air of authenticity.
Coleman must be commended for so effectively managing the difficult
task of creating a convincing sense of place, set in Middle America
in the 80s.
There is also an underlying subplot of parental loss, which adds a somewhat
elegiac feel throughout the book, showing us the pains and tribulations
of those who experience it. After the recent loss of their child through
miscarriage, both Prager and his wife, Katy, are struggling to cope
Prager is in silent turmoil, Katy is openly distraught, whilst
Moiras father has been shattered by the loss of his daughter and has
turned to drink to dull the memories.
Moe Prager is a believable character who you enjoy getting to know
he struggles to deal with his own personal problems and earns the readers'
compassion. There is no deliberation whether he fits the stereotype
of a troubled cop always torn between his job and his family,
never missing a trick, never disheartened by a few setbacks, mind over
you get the picture. Hes also never short of a cringe
worthy catch phrase; Maybe I wouldnt be clever enough to
figure it out, maybe no one ever would, but I'd taken notice of her
and wasnt likely to forget. You just gotta love the guy.
One setback I will have to highlight is how painfully the story drags
itself out; despite the credible content you will find yourself wondering
where the plot is going - Prager is too preoccupied talking to old colleagues
and associates, re-evaluating his life and lingering on trivial events.
It's unclear whether Coleman was aiming to keep the reader in some kind
of agonising suspense for 150 pages, but it all became rather tedious
- at one point I would have rather let Prager run off to Coney Island
whilst I waited for him back in Brooklyn, where he could simply report
back to me on what else hed found out, instead of dragging me
along for another three chapters.
However eventually you start to see that the storyline is going somewhere
hurrah - things start to get a little more exciting, secrets
unravel, the long-winded beginning finally starts to catch up with itself.
Read THE JAMES DEANS for some easy reading P.I. adventures and some
cleverly thought out twists; also to enjoy Colemans polished prose and
his ability to create such solid characters he certainly boasts
a rare talent for capturing everyday human traits and injecting it into
each one. Although its hardly riveting, its an enjoyable
read - just dont expect it to have you gripping the edge of your
seat for what could possibly be coming next. Case closed.
© Laura Jones March 2005
Laura is a Creative Writing student at Portsmouth University
all rights reserved