I am a huge fan of this series by Reed Farrel Coleman. These gritty novels follow the life of former NYPD-turned PI Moe Prager through a number of cases, romances, marriages, tumultuous relationships with his brother and his daughter, and ultimately with himself. Onion Street is a prequel of sorts to the rest of the series. After attending the funeral of his childhood friend, Bobby Friedman, Moe relates the story of his youth to his daughter, detailing the series of events that led him to a life as a detective.
The story he tells takes place in 1967 Brooklyn with Moe as a directionless college student, wandering through his days. That all changes when his girlfriend is mugged, ending up in a coma, and it becomes apparent that Bobby’s life is also in danger. Enlisting his friend Lids (a drug-dealing genius who has suffered a nervous breakdown), Moe sets out to find out what’s behind these attacks. His inquiries will take him to a run-down appliance store, the airport, Brighton Beach, and the Catskills. Along the way to discovering the truth Moe encounters grieving parents, radical college students, mobsters, Holocaust survivors, drug addicts, and police detectives.
I have been waiting for the next Moe Prager novel for a long time and Onion Street did not disappoint. The descriptions of 1967 Brooklyn are dirty, dusty, dangerous, adding to the grittiness of the story. As with all of the Moe Prager novels, as in life, people are not always who you thought they were, right and wrong are not easy to discern, the answers do not come easily. It is a world of gray.
“No, this was Brooklyn. We liked our scars. We wore our failures with pride. We lived in a world of what used to be and what would be no more.”
Title: Onion Street
Author: Reed Farrel Coleman
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publication: Tyrus Books, May 2013