Moe Prager

Created by Reed Farrel Coleman
(1956 –)

Guilt. Moral ambivalence. Dark secrets. Murder.

In the first novel in this well-received series, Walking the Perfect Square (2002), MOE PRAGER has to deal with all of these. He’s a divorced ex-cop who retired from the force early because of a knee injury, struggling to set his personal life right, and to patch things up with his estranged daughter. Complicating matters is his decision to look into the disappearance of the son of a police officer almost twenty years earlier.

He becomes a private eye in the final pages, but by his second appearance, Redemption Street (2004), set in 1981, Moe has let his P.I. license lapse, he’s remarried and a new father, and he’s working as a wine merchant in Manhattan , of all things.

Moe’s an appealing and convincing character, a once-failed father, trying to make amends and do the right things, an unobservant Jew still wrestling with the decisions he’s made in his life, both personally and professionally, a brooding philosophical man never quite comfortable in his own skin. The books in this series have been very well-written, noirish, character-driven procedurals, offering some great period detail and insight into what it takes to do the right thing. But they weren’t exactly setting the world on fire.

So no one was quite prepared when The James Deans (2005), the third in the series, just blew up, snapping up a Shamus for Best Paperback Original, as well as assorted Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards. It was a watershed moment for Moe’s creator, Reed Farrel Coleman, who has since been regularly nominated for numerous other awards, including at least a couple of Edgars, and has managed to win two more Best Novel Shamuses, for Soul Patch (2007) and Empty Ever After (2008).

Coleman is the creator of several interesting detective series, including three novels featuring unorthodox investigator (and wannabe writer) Dylan Klein, another series starring New York gumshoe Gulliver Dowd, a newer series featuring Long Island eye Gus Murphy, and, under the Tony Spinosa byline, writes about ex-cops Joe Serpe and Bob Healy who go into various businesses together, including oil delivery and private investigation. More recently, he took over Robert B. Parker’s popular Jesse Stone series for a while, and started a new series about NYPD fixer Nick Ryan.


  • Save Moe!


  • “A mystery that would get under anyone’s skin.”
    — The New York Times Book Review on Walking the Perfect Square




  • “Breakage” (2017, Down & Out: The Magazine v1 #1)
  • “The Devil Always Knows” (Fall 2018, Mystery Tribune)


  • Short Stack: Stories and Poems (2019) Buy this book | Kindle it!
    A slew of crime stories, including a couple of Moe Prager stories, plus some poetry.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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