Thursday, July 2, 2009


WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE introduces Moe Prager, a New York City police officer who was forced into early retirement by a bizarre, rather embarrassing accident. The book begins in the present - well, 1998 - when Moe is summoned by a dying man who claims to have knowledge of a case Moe worked right after his forced retirement, a case that still haunts Moe to this day. Then Moe flashes back to the late 70s. As he recovers from his career-ending accident physically, he also needs to figure out how to recover from the emotional loss of a job he loves. However, when a young college student vanishes, Moe is pulled back into the fold in a private capacity. He's investigating the disappearance for the family of the young man. The investigation takes Moe Prager into biker bars, sex clubs and the punk underground. It also takes Moe into the life of the missing man's sister, Katy.

WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE was my first introduction to Reed Farrel Coleman. And wow! What a gift! Coleman told me that he got his start in writing through poetry and I don't think he's stopped writing poetry, he simply disguises it now as prose:

"First kisses are a revelation, so uncomplicated and so unlike firsts in bed. Somehow, he awkwardness of first kisses adds to their beauty: Which way should I tilt my head? Will she mind if I cup her chin in my hand or should I hold her in my arms or should I touch her at all? Will she close her eyes? Should I look to see? Will she part her lips? If she does, should I follow her lead? And when, in the end, in spite of your considerable calculation, you bump noses, it's funny and the tension burns off like fog."
If you just rearrange those lines into some stanzas can you not see a poem there? And yet it is one of the most insightful passages about a character. Of course I was completely in love with Moe Prager before this passage 100 pages into the book, but had I not been, this definitely would have sealed the deal! As you can tell, Moe isn't an arrogant, cocky, stereotypical P.I. And yet, WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE does retain many of the traditional characteristics of the P.I. novel.

Coleman's intelligent humor is also one of the strengths of this novel. I was regularly having to explain to colleagues why I was laughing out loud during lunch breaks. But who could resist with lines like this:

"Katy thanked him and asked to use the bathroom. Nicky hesitated: 'The Dirt Lounge bathroom is kinda like Berlin before and after the war,' he said, 'only worse.'

Nature's call blinded her judgement. 'If I spot Dr. Mengele, I'll call Simon Wiesenthal.'"
Coleman puts his gift with the English language to work creating rich, dynamic characters; vivid depictions of New York City and some of it's not-so-glamorous locales; and he builds an incredible crime fiction plot. I loved the way he would subtly introduce nagging little questions about the investigation and then just leave them hanging. If you're being a lazy reader you might forget about them, but you're more likely to wonder about them. And then more come and they start to forge into bigger questions. And Moe's as clueless about these nagging questions as you the reader are, so you're walking through the plot together...clueless. But boy, is it a memorable trip!

If you are like I was several months ago: clueless about Reed Farrel Coleman's Moe Prager series, I strongly recommend you follow the clues right up to WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE.

WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE was first published in 2002 by The Permanent Press (ISBN: 1579620396 ). It was re-issued in 2008 by Busted Flush Press (ISBN: 978-0-9792709-5-6).


David Thompson July 2, 2009 at 9:19 AM  

Thanks, Jen!! And wait until you read MY favorite Moe book, the second one, REDEMPTION STREET, in which Moe travels to the Catskills to investigate a decades-old hotel fire. Hints were given to this unsolved crime in WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE... the perfect set-up! :-)

Thanks again for your kind comments!

John Shannon July 3, 2009 at 3:41 PM  

Dear Jen,

This is John Shannon, daddy of the Jack Liffey mysteries. I'd be happy to do an interview or a 6-word memoir, if you wish.


Deanna August 23, 2009 at 8:35 PM  

It's great to see someone else who loves Reed Farell Coleman. After I read WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE it's all I could think about for at least a week. I discovered Mr. Coleman's work through Murder by the Book in Houston (I see that David Thompson has visited your page) and they have NEVER steered me wrong. I hope you continue with the series...they just get better.

彼氏募集 October 23, 2009 at 6:46 AM  
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