Re: RARA-AVIS: The overlooked Reed Farrel Coleman

From: Nathan Cain (
Date: 08 May 2008

I also fail to understand why Coleman isn't more popular. I have read his latest, and it's up to his usual high standards. I recently reviewed it on my blog (I usually don't link to my blog, but I'm too pressed for time to rewrite my thoughts on the book just now.) He picked up a bucket load of awards for The James Deans, but that didn't really seem to boost his profile all that much.

On Wed, May 7, 2008 at 3:41 PM, Jack Bludis <> wrote:
> I've been on this list three, four, maybe even five years and I'm not sure
> that I've ever seen Reed Farrel Coleman's name mentioned here.
> He's hard boiled, but not noir, which may be the reason. Even though the
> group is named for Hammett's rare bird, it seems that the relentless fall of
> the noir character and their author's exploration of the incomplete mind of
> amoral characters is the major thrust on rara_avis--not at criticism, just
> an observation.
> I have not read Reed Coleman's latest, but his last two--THE JAMES DEANS and
> SOUL PATCH--are two of the best private eye books that I've read in recent
> years. His character, Moe Prager, is an ex-cop who is not an alcoholic, not
> a bastard, married relatively happily, and makes a decent living as a
> wine-shop owner, but because he regrets that he never got the "gold shield"
> he deserved when he was one of New York's finest, he is also a private
> detective when the proper case strikes him.
> His books put his lead character in the recent past but always flash back
> further to a time many of us of a certain age remember fondly, if we
> remember it at all--1970s.
> His character is a truly decent guy. Coleman doesn't need to state his
> philosophy the way Chandler seemed compelled to do--Moe lives it.
> In Coleman's SOUL PATCH, which has been nominated for a number of awards,
> the apparent suicide of a former associate--if not quite a friend--leads him
> to explore what may have caused it. He ends up digging into the past not
> only of the "friend," but into his own past and the past of many of his
> other "friends."
> If you were youngish in the 70s, you'll feel the nostalgia. If you weren't,
> you'll learn what is was "something like."
> Coleman does what others tell me Ross MacDonald did with the past, but
> somehow I never got through Ross MacDonald's figures of speech well enough
> to understand what he was driving at.
> I understand Moe Prager. Coleman is a prose-poet without the extended
> similes.
> Jack Bludis
> PS: Last year, Coleman's THE JAMES DEANS, was not only nominated for most of
> the awards--it won them.
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