Set in 1981, Coleman's fast-paced sequel to Walking the Perfect Square
(2002) will please fans of both hard-boiled and traditional mysteries. A retired cop with an inactive PI license, Prager is happily bored in his new incarnation as a Manhattan wine merchant, husband and new father. Residual ambivalence about his choice to help cover up the disappearance of his wife's beloved brother leads Prager to reconsider his initial refusal to take on another quest for a missing sibling—Arthur Rosen's search for the sister widely believed to have died in a fire at a Catskill resort 15 years earlier. When an arrogant and shadowy real estate magnate attempts to bribe him to refuse the case, Prager leaves his family and job to try to unearth the truth about the fatal blaze, which claimed 16 lives and was officially blamed on a careless bedtime smoker. He finds that the conflagration marked the point at which the small town of Old Rotterdam began its decline and that his questions stir up ill feeling from the locals, who include mysterious neo-Nazis and a group of Jews who call themselves the Yellow Stars. Prager's dogged pursuit leads to a satisfying and logical solution, while demonstrating Coleman's gift for blending a classic whodunit with a gritty, realistic procedural. Prager is a fascinating creation, believably grappling with his status as an unaffiliated and unobservant Jew, with ample room for greater growth. (Mar. 22)
Coleman is also the author of
Little Easter (1993) and two other mysteries in his Dylan Klein series.