Innocent Monster by Reed Farrel Coleman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After a series of personal setbacks, Moe Prager thought he was finally out of the PI trade. A successful wine merchant in Brooklyn, the former cop and private investigator is contacted by his estranged daughter, who is concerned about the missing child of a close friend of hers. Seeing a chance to re-connect with his daughter, Prager reluctantly takes the case of a missing child prodigy whose artwork is worth thousands of dollars. Coleman really writes well and with great compassion for his creation - Prager is a genuine flesh and blood character, with all of the strengths and weaknesses of the standard PI, along with a streak of lyrical melancholy (making something of a Brooklynite version of Dave Robicheaux, hero of James Lee Burke's great series of detective novels set in Louisiana.) Coleman's story of how the talented child is being used by all of the adults gathered around her is compelling, and despite a slightly implausible ending, this book was an enjoyable detective story.
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