August 6th, 1998: Moe Prager, a former cop, waits to call his daughter for her 18th birthday. In the midst of an ugly family meltdown, Prager is desperate to find a way to make sense of what has caused his once-happy family to implode. As he waits, however, it is Prager who receives a call that might not only solve a case that has haunted him and his wife for twenty years, but might also supply the glue to patch his family back together.
December 8th, 1977: Patrick Maloney, a supposedly popular college student, walks out of a Manhattan nightspot into oblivion. It s no wonder Maloney s disappearance barely registers on the radar screen. Son of Sam strikes. Elvis is dead. It s the Sex Pistols vs. the BeeGees, Studio 54 and the Dirt Lounge, est and yin/yang, gas shortages, Quaaludes, pot and polyester, Plato s Retreat, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the neutron bomb.
Moe Prager, a cop forced into early retirement by injury, certainly hadn t noticed Patrick Maloney s disappearance. But when Prager s ex-partner calls with an offer to work on the case, Moe, wracked with self-doubt over his undistinguished career, signs on.
As Prager traces Patrick Maloney s steps from his upstate home to his college dorm on Long Island, from the Tribeca bar where he was last seen to an old flame s mansion on the Gold Coast, Moe realizes that nothing about the case, especially the details of the missing man s life, is as it seems. Even the picture his parents gave the police was two years out of date. Why? What could his parents be hiding? What tortured secrets might have driven Patrick to create a public persona so different from his true self?
Questions multiply as Prager searches for Patrick in New York s notorious punk underground, gay clubs and biker bars. Will Moe s blossoming relationship with Patrick s older sister help to bring Maloney back home or will it help to destroy any progress in the case? Can Moe overcome the roadblocks thrown in his path by dirty cops, corrupt politicians, and an ambitious reporter? And who are the truly ominous forces working behind the scenes to pull Prager into the very private hell of the Maloney family? Is Moe Prager running in circles or simply walking the perfect square?
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Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR's Maureen Corrigan, Reed Farrel Coleman is the former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America. He has published twelve novels in three series, and one stand-alone with award-winning Irish author Ken Bruen. His books have been translated into seven languages, and the Moe Prager character in his current series is one of the most engaging in crime fiction. "His bone-deep world weariness and mordant sense of humor should enthrall lovers of old-school, tough-talking, loner private eyes," says Booklist.
Reed is a three-time winner of the Shamus Award for Best Detective Novel of the Year. He has also received the Barry and Anthony Awards, and has been twice nominated for the Edgar® Award. He was the editor of the anthology Hard Boiled Brooklyn, and his short fiction and essays have appeared in Wall Street Noir, The Darker Mask, These Guns For Hire, Brooklyn Noir 3, Damn Near Dead, and other publications.
Reed is an adjunct instructor at Hofstra University, teaching writing classes in mystery fiction and the novel.
His standalone novel, GUN CHURCH, is available in print and from Audible.com, and his seventh Moe Prager novel (HURT MACHINE) has been winning accolades from the likes of Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and others.
Raymond Chandler once advised that when things get slow in a story, have a man with a gun come through the door. What's most remarkable about Coleman's first mystery to feature Brooklyn PI Moe Praeger (after three Dylan Klein noirs: Little Easter, etc.) is that he never resorts to such a crude device. Rooted in the late 1970s, the story is so solid, the characters so compelling, the pace so expertly driven that he can dispense with the usual genre stitches. If the one murder in the book occurs off-stage, there's no lack of suspense. The author makes us care about his characters and what happens to them, conveying a real sense of human absurdity and tragedy, of the price people will pay to get ahead or hide their true selves. Moe's job he's an ex-cop forced to retire because of a knee injury is to find the son of another cop, a young man who left a party one night and hasn't been seen since. So many people have been searching for Patrick Mahoney in the 20 years since his disappearance that Moe doesn't expect to be successful. As his investigation proceeds, he finds himself looking for two Patricks: one a choir boy lookalike and the other described by those who knew him as "weird" and "strange." But why? Is it possible Patrick's father really doesn't want to find his son? Patrick stands at the core of the novel, and the intricate tale of what happened to him makes for a first-rate mystery. Moe is a fine sleuth. Coleman is an excellent writer. (Dec.)Forecast: The misleading title and inappropriate jacket art won't help, but praise from a few big name authors could give a real boost to this series down the line.
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