Whenever we go to a new city, we always seek out the independent bookstores. I especially look for the mystery bookstores and have come to ask the same question of each one: what are some must read mysteries? Thanks to the great saleman at Mystery on Main Street in Brattleboro, VT, I have now become a Moe Prager fan, whose mysteries are written by Reed Farrel Coleman (who looks like a private eye). When I read that Coleman is coming out with a new book, I knew I had to catch up with the 5 or 6 books in the series (I’d only read two.)
There are some mysteries that are action packed and some that are riveting courtroom dramas. But there are few where you get to know the characters, where there is a life outside of crime. Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series is one that comes to mind and Moe Prager is another. Moe is an everyday guy. He lives in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. He was disabled while on the NYPD force due to a freak accident and was retired. He owns a wine store with his brother Aaron and keeps his private detective license in case a case comes up. His claim to fame was finding a missing girl when no one else could and this keeps haunting him because missing person cases seem to keep coming his way.
In The James Deans, when Moe and his wife, Katy, are invited to the posh wedding of a former wine store employee, he wonders why. He soon finds out. Her well heeled father, Thomas Geary, wants Prager to find out what happened to Moira Heaton, an intern in State Senator Steve Brightman’s office. She left one day about a year ago and never returned. All eyes turn to Brightman. Of course a detective agency was hired, with no results. So Geary turns to Prager to clear Brightman’s name so he can resume his meteoric rise in politics. Prager finds out what happens to Moira and more.
Moe Prager is a truly likeable guy. He’s smart, philosophical, realistic and caring. Coleman’s writing is readable, enjoyable and unpretentious. His plots are realistic. There are some slimeballs, some nice guys and some characters to be pitied in Moe Prager’s life.
While you don’t have to read the series in order, I’d do it since there aren’t too many books to catch up on and they’re fast reads. I’d probably pick up a nice bottle of wine to get in the mood, kick back and relax. Let me know what you think.