WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE
1st Moe Prager Book (2001)
Recently retired because of a freak accident, NYPD officer Moe Prager is lost. In pain and without the job he loves, Moe reluctantly settles on the notion of going into the wine business with his brother. When a suburban college student vanishes off the streets of Manhattan, Prager's universe is turned upside down and his life changed forever. Hired by the student's desperate family, Moe plunges deep into the world of New York's punk underground, sex clubs, and biker bars. Politicians, journalists, and crooked cops seem hell-bent on stopping him in his tracks. Set on the gritty city streets of the late seventies and the present day, Walking the Perfect Square is a unique mystery that delivers a compelling look at one person's efforts to find a man who was never really there, and to protect his family from an unbearable truth.
You can read an excerpt here.
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Reed Farrel Coleman is one of the more original voices to emerge from the crime fiction field in the last ten years. For the uninitiated, Walking the Perfect Square is the place to start. —George Pelecanos
Among the undying conventions of detective fiction is the one that requires every retired cop to have a case that still haunts him. Reed Farrel Coleman blows the dust off that cliché in WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE (Permanent Press, $26; to be published next month) with a mystery that would get under anyone's skin. Moe Prager, the Manhattan homicide cop who worked this 1978 case, involving a Hofstra University student named Patrick Maloney who dropped out of sight after an off-campus party, is still hunting for answers 20 years after the fact. And who could blame him? In a novel that intimately explores the amorphous nature of identity, Patrick is a troubling enigma. Is he the fresh-faced college kid his parents claim? The pierced and tattooed punk known to a biker girlfriend? (''Apparently, Patrick Maloney was not only human, but a complex one at that.'') Coleman handles the split time frame expertly, mustering a special love-hate for the 1970's, and his portrayal of Prager redeems the corny notion of the haunted cop. But his study of Patrick is the true coup: a living portrait of the man who wasn't there - until a stranger took the trouble to look for him. - Marilyn Stasio, New York Times, Dec. 23, 2001
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. 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. - Publishers Weekly, 2001