Thursday, June 3, 2010

Audio Book Thursday: REDEMPTION STREET

FIRST LINE: "I wasn't thinking much about anything, certainly not my past, as I dusted off several overpriced bottles of French Cabernet."

Living peacefully with his wife and baby daughter, Moe Prager is co-owner/operator of the City on the Vine wine shop when a vagrant stops in asking Moe for help. Despite having his P.I. license, Moe isn't in the detective business. He explains this to the persistent man who wants Moe to find his sister. His dead sister? Arthur Rosen is the man's name and his sister was Karen. Moe should know Karen, Arthur insists; Moe went to school with the girl. When Moe finally remembers Karen, he recalls that she died fifteen years earlier in a tragic hotel fire in the Catskills. Why would Arthur Rosen want Moe to find his dead sister? It seems Arthur and his parents, before they died, had spent all of their time and money trying to convince someone to "find" Karen. But Moe isn't able to learn why Arthur is pursuing a dead woman because Arthur commits suicide. Meanwhile, a real estate investor by the name of R.B. Carter wants to pay Moe to stay away from the case. All the strange questions drive Moe to the Catskills to find out just what happened in that hotel fire fifteen years ago.

REDEMPTION STREET is the second book in Reed Farrel Coleman's Moe Prager series. Being a fan of rich characters and character development, this series is a treasure for me. Coleman isn't afraid to let his characters be human with warts and foibles and all.  Their flaws are ultimately what make them such beautiful characters. In REDEMPTION STREET Moe struggles with his Jewish roots and beliefs. And while Moe searches for Karen Rosen, he is also searching for an element of himself and an element of forgiveness. These themes are then blended with the warning, "be careful what you wish for." Moe's father-in-law repeats this to Moe while in the hospital on drugs after a stroke, and the statement holds meaning for many characters throughout the plot.

While the plot twist at the end of the novel may not come as the biggest surprise to the reader, its importance actually takes a back seat to the journey the characters make. Mr. Roth and Sam Gutterman take on the roles of the angel and the Satan atop Moe's shoulders, whispering in his ears and challenging his choices. It is only through their existence, as well as that of Judas Wannsee, that Moe is able to discover himself. Yes. Rich characters. 

Par for the course, Coleman manipulates the language to create the world in which Moe Prager exists. This world is simultaneously dark and enlightening; one element is the physical setting of New York, of the Catskills, but an even greater element is Moe's psyche. There is a lot of darkness existing in Moe's psyche, but rays of light make their way inside at times.

The piece de reistance is Moe's humor.

"Sarcasm isn't a universal language. That's a thing most New Yorkers forget when they venture beyond the city limits. Most Americans don't spend 80 percent of their waking hours constructing witty comebacks and snide remarks. Not everyone acts as if they're onstage at the Improv or trying to outwit Groucho Marx or George Bernard Shaw."

His sarcasm, while building his New Yorker characteristic, is also uniquely Moe, giving this P.I. series an inimitable attraction.

Reed Farrel Coleman doesn't allow you to be a passive reader in the Moe Prager series. He gives you no choice but to invest a part of yourself, an investment well worth making.

I listened to REDEMPTION STREET, now available on audio and narrated by Andy Caploe. This audio production was a great pairing of book and reader. Caploe has a firm grasp of Moe Prager's sarcastic humor as well as his introspective nature. He also did an impressive job with his interpretation of Mr. Roth and Sam Gutterman. Their importance in the role of this store was obvious. The one element I thought could be improved on this recording had to do with editing. Caploe's breathing is very noticeable, and we surely want him to breathe. It can, however, be edited out so as not to detract from his fine reading.

REDEMPTION STREET is presently available in print from Busted Flush Press (ISBN: 978-0-9792709-0-1) and on audio from Audible.

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2 comments:

Susan C Shea June 3, 2010 at 11:35 AM  

Love Moe's comment on sarcasm. As a former New Yorker who moved to California ages ago, I had to learn the same thing the hard way! Your review makes this book a must-have for me.

stacybuckeye June 4, 2010 at 3:53 PM  

Just came over from Scene of the Blog and was happy to see another Ohio blogger! Off to have a look around :)

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