It is 1989 as this novel, fourth in the series, opens and Moe remains haunted by his own actions in the police force years ago as well as in his dealings with his father-in-law. Moe still isn’t happy with the wine business that his brother Aaron and Moe run which began as a way for Moe to do something after his knee injury which ended his police career. Always a man with a rather cynical philosophy regarding himself and the world, Moe is aware not only time is passing him by but that he is also bored to the very fiber of his being. Nothing is the way he expected things to turn out and he isn't happy.
His general malaise is unshaken by the intrusion of Larry McDonald, a friend and fellow officer from his police days who is now the NYPD Chief of Detectives. Larry comes to a party celebrating the grand opening of the third liquor store run by Aaron and Moe. Larry, always a political animal before anything else, has come looking for Moe and hoping to make use of a friendship that isn’t as strong these days. Past transgressions have always been a major theme in Coleman’s work and the theme is strongly prevalent here as well as Larry has an audio tape with sinister implications. All he said he wanted was for Moe to listen to the tape but that was just the start of a tragic chain of events rooted deep in a shared history.
Moe has always been deeply philosophical, more of a thinking man’s detective who stumbles along in search of a truth he can live with for the moment. That is certainly true here as this book becomes part current case and part remembrance of things past. Those detailed remembrances bring to mind earlier books in the series for readers versed with the series and may dissuade new readers who may see them as telling all there is to know about the earlier novels.
Such readers would be sadly mistaken. As is Moe who spends an inordinate amount of time considering the past. Moe finds himself at a cross roads in many areas and one wonders how, and if it will, the series will continue. With so much mental contemplation, the action while violent at times, is limited and yet, provides a read that is fairly consistent with earlier books in the series.
Once again 1972 rears an ugly head for Moe and takes readers back in time. The read is dark and moving and ultimately, while not as satisfying as earlier books in the series, still a pretty good ride.
Soul Patch: A Moe Prager Mystery
By Reed Farrel Coleman
Bleak House Books
Kevin R. Tipple © 2007