Monday 16 February 2009

A Wee Review - Walking The Perfect Square by Reed Farrel Coleman

I’ve very recently been introduced to Moe Prager, Reed Farrel Coleman’s Brooklyn PI. It was a far from unpleasant experience. In fact, (and I can’t believe I’m falling back on such an obvious cliché) Moe’s the kind of guy I could chat to over a few beers, I reckon. And I believe that’s what Farrel Coleman wanted to achieve in creating this well-layered nice-guy protagonist.

Walking The Perfect Square is a missing person mystery set in Brooklyn, New York. Retired beat cop, Moe, is enlisted as a last long shot in finding a young man, whose father is a rich and powerful politico. Moe has no real desire to take on a private investigation, but a sense of loyalty to an old colleague and a highly believable love interest soon sways him. This is another slow-revealer that would be spoiled by too much plot inspection, but you have my word that the story is always moving and gripping.

The book isn’t quite action-packed, but then Moe isn’t an action man. He’s a thinker. And as such, the few scenes of violence carry a lot of impact. Like many crime fiction fans, I like a lot of hard-boiled writers who write good violence, but I think there’s plenty to be said for how Farrel Coleman deals with it in Walking The Perfect Square. It’s the threat of violence that creates the tension, and that can be quite a difficult thing to pull off. This is the work of a writer who doesn’t take the easy way out.

Walking The Perfect Square is also a nice insight into Brooklyn, a place Farrel Coleman obviously has much love for. As Adrian McKinty joked in a comment to an earlier post on this blog, Brooklyn people love to tell you they’re from Brooklyn. Moe Prager does that too. And when he uses his contacts to pull in favours and information, you get an idea that a person can really feel like they belong on those streets.

In Walking The Perfect Square, Farrel Coleman takes the classic PI formula, updates it and gives it a little more humanity. Moe Prager is aware of his limits and has the good sense to try and stay within them as far as he can. It’s just the situations he finds himself in that put him in danger. This is how real people act and I like reading about real people. So call me a Reed Farrel Coleman fan.

I’ll be looking forward to the rest of the Prager novels, three of which can be bought from David Thompson’s Busted Flush Press. But I’ll be especially interested in what Reed Farrel Coleman and Ken Bruen have created in their collaboration project, Tower, which will be published by Busted Flush this year. Both writers employ very different styles in their writing, but I’m sure they’ve found a happy medium between them. Should be a very interesting result.


marco said...

Yesterday I saw a used copy of this book. I took it as a sign and bought it.

Gerard Brennan said...

Marco - The system works! Enjoy.