Thursday, January 13, 2011

Redemption Street by Reed Farrel Coleman

Happy New Year blog. It's been awhile.

I just finished reading Redemption Street by Reed Farrel Coleman. It's not literary fiction. It's a private eye novel. It's not part of my effort to read more widely. It was on my list of novels I'm dying to read.

Redemption Street is the second in the Moe Prager series of novels. I've read the books out of order - partly, because I'm growing sick of the genre insistence on series characters; partly because the books are somewhat hard to find. The series is an exception in that there is a well defined story-arc throughout. Part of its appeal is this arc...that and how Coleman jumps around in time throughout the series. The arc is more about family dysfunction and secrets than crime genre minutiae. Another appeal.

So what about Redemption Street?

Well, the story arc isn't a big deal here. It's only alluded to. So, in some ways, this reads more as your straight forward private eye novel than any other novel (of the ones I've read) in the series. The plot involves Prager investigating the circumstances around a fire at a Catskills resort hotel sixteen years prior. This is a Coleman novel, so it can't just be a simple case for Moe. It has to touch him personally, so we have Andrea Cotter as one of the victims. She was one of Moe's high school crushes... Coleman often relies on Moe's soft, cushy side and it seems corny when I write about it, but he's much better at it than I. There also an exploration of Jewish cultural assimilation, which again is a pull on Moe's personal feelings. It is the high point of the novel.

The 'mystery' isn't especially spectacular. And the other more 'characterization' stuff I usually find in a Coleman book isn't quite as prevalent. In the end, it's good enough to keep me reading about Moe, but it falls short of every other Coleman book I've read.

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