Monday, March 31, 2008

Review of Empty Ever After

Reed Farrell Coleman’s Moe Prager series is unique because it features a private investigator whose role involves keeping secrets as much as it does exposing them. It is also unique in that Coleman has been carefully building a narrative arc throughout the duration of the series, which he clearly started with an end it mind. Empty Ever After (Bleak House Books, 2008) is that end, and what an end it is. It is the best book in the series that has already won it share of critical, if not popular, acclaim.

Coleman skips the decade of the 1990s, and starts Empty Ever After in 2000. The one thing Prager has always feared has come to pass. His wife Katy discovered the secret he has been hiding from her for decades; that he found her vanished brother Patrick years ago, and let him slip away. They have divorced, and Prager is trying to move on with his life, and deal with the fallout from what should be a closed chapter in his personal history. Someone however, wants to open old wounds, and Patrick’s grave is desecrated, as is that of his former boyfriend. Soon the fragile Katy is receiving calls from, and even seeing, her dead brother, and Prager is forced to go back into his past to search out the people who have reason to seek revenge against him.

The villain won’t come as a surprise to those who have read the series, but the resolution will. Coleman has always avoided pat endings, and this final bow for Prager has the least pat ending of all the novels in the series. There are no real answers, only more uncertainty, as the final curtain falls.

Those who have not read the series will likely be lost, as the story relies heavily on characters from earlier books, but this entire series is worth reading. The only book in the series that is out of print is The James Deans, which is easy enough to find second hand. The others are available thanks to Busted Flush Press and Bleak House. Anyone who seeks these books out will be well rewarded.

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