Saturday, November 16, 2013

Reed Farrel Coleman: Farewell to Moe

Our guest blogger this weekend, probably needs no introduction, so I’m going to make this short and sweet. Reed Farrel Coleman is a goddam great writer, an multiple award winner (and a nice guy). If you’ve never read one of his books, you have done yourself a grave disservice. Rectify that at once, please! We are honoured to have him here at Type M once again.


“Maybe he[Moe] will retire to Florida like the late Stuart Kaminsky’s Lew Fonesca.”

Yesterday, I received the above note in an email from a fan who was gracious enough to write about my decision to put an end to the Moe Prager Mysteries with the ninth novel in the series, The Hollow Girl. Any writer will tell you that it’s a great compliment to have your readers refer to your protagnoist as if he or she were a living breathing human being. Even if the remark is made in jest, it shows a level of connection and involvement with the character that persists long after the book has been closed and shelved. I sometimes wonder if readers can appreciate the sense of satisfaction a character’s creator experiences upon receiving this kind of validation. Beyond that, this note is particularly ironic, because I’ve been saying for years that I have no desire to have Moe move to Boca Raton and become the alter cocker detective. Alter cocker? Don’t ask. Let’s just say it has nothing to do with being a fan of Joe Cocker. Alter cocker is a Yiddish term taken to mean a cranky old person.

As the events described in The Hollow Girl play out, Moe Prager is roughly sixty-five years old. And while we’d all like to believe that sixty-five is the new fifty-five, Moe’s recent battle with stomach cancer has left him a more frail version of the man we’ve come to know through the earlier books in the series. He’s also suffered a great personal tragedy. So although I find it perfectly plausible for another author to write a viable senior citizen detective, I can’t make that claim for Moe. As Moe jokes, the only thing he can flash with any authority is his AARP card.

I’ve also been asked if I will miss Moe. The answer for now is no. I love Moe as much as the fans do. Moe has been responsible for whatever critical acclaim I have received. He’s responsible for all but two of the awards I have won. He is responsible for much of the joy I have experienced as a writer. I often wonder where I would be without him. Yet, I always knew, even from the first word of Walking the Perfect Square—the inaugural Moe Prager Mystery—that the series, successful or not, would not go on indefinitely. Moe’s age, bruises, scars, gains and losses, have always been an integral part of the series. What is a character without growth and change? With The Hollow Girl, I have said all I have to say with Moe. I cannot squeeze anymore out of him without his life becoming parody. I couldn’t do that to Moe or to his fans. There’s an adage in sports that it’s better to trade an aging player one year too soon than two years too late. And so it was with the series. I decided that it was better to end it one book too soon rather than two books too late. Maybe I will regret my decision, but probably not. Regret is an enormous waste of time and energy.

In the meantime I have also been working on other projects. One that I am very proud of. I have created a new character, Gulliver Dowd. Gulliver is a little person detective with a deformed body and a startlingly handsome face. He’s a bitter man with a big heart. He’s spurred on by the murder of his adopted sister, Keisha. An African-American woman who had overcome a great deal to become a member of the NYPD, Keisha is found murdered in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Gulliver makes it his mission in life to find his sister’s killer or killers and bring them to justice. This while working cases as a PI. These are novellas written in short declarative sentences and aimed at emerging readers, but interesting for even sophisticated readers. They are published by Orca Books in Canada under their Raven Books imprint and are available in the States. The first two in the series, Dirty Work and Valentino Pier are on sale now. The third in the series, The Boardwalk will be out in the fall of 2014.

Although the Moe Prager series is done, I hope to produce new interesting characters like Gulliver Dowd, that will capture people’s hearts and imaginations. My ride with Moe has been a great one. And just between you and me, I should be making an announcement pretty soon about how my career will be taking quite a different and important turn. Believe me, I wish I could share it with you now, but I just can’t. So please check my website and visit me on Facebook for the big news.

Praise for the Moe Prager series:
In Reed Farrel Coleman’s hands, the Moe Prager novels are turning into one of the great series on PI literature. These are soulful, beautifully written investigations into an American Dream that slipped through our fingers when no one was looking. The series would make the greats—Chandler, Hammett, Ross and John D. McDonald, and James Crumley—very proud indeed.
Dennis Lehane

Praise for the Gulliver Dowd series:
A little man with a huge heart and a huge chip on his shoulder, Gulliver Dowd swaggers into the crime fiction world and takes his place with the great investigators. Smart, vulnerable, wounded, heartbreakingly hopeful, I just adore his company.
Louise Penny


Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the “noir poet laureate” in the Huffington Post, Reed Farrel Coleman has published sixteen novels, two novellas, short stories, essays, and poetry. A former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America, he is a three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of the Year and a two-time Edgar Award nominee. He has also won the Macavity, Audie, Barry, and Anthony Awards. Reed is an adjunct instructor of English at Hofstra University and a founding member of MWA University. He lives with his family on Long Island.


John R. Corrigan said...

The new series sounds great, Reed. I will check it out. Best wishes.

NoOceanInKansas said...

Really hate to see the end of Moe Prager series. I'm reading Hollow Girl right now. Reed Farrel Coleman is one of the best writers out there. I feel like I'm in the room with Moe. I'll have to picture him fishing with Travis McGee somewhere in the Florida Keys.