Good guys few and far between

Bob Moyer takes a look at a novel with Reed Parrel Coleman’s latest hero – or is it antihero?

Reviewed by Robert P. Moyer

SLEEPLESS CITY. By Reed Farrel Coleman. Blackstone Publishing. 321 pages. $26.99.

No one wears a white hat in the Sleepless City known as New York. Not even Nick Ryan, the latest protagonist created by the hard-boiled novelist who belongs on the same spectrum as Michael Connelly and Lee Child. Reed Parrel Coleman is so good he was tapped by the estate of Robert B. Parker to continue the Jesse Stone series. His own latest features Nick, a loner cop by nature and by family—his dad gave witness against corrupt cops, and the son suffers the sin of his father. He’s also distressed by the way justice doesn’t go down in what he sees as a rigged system. His partner got caught planting evidence. When the creep got away, the partner took the fall, and took his own life. Nick has decided at the story’s beginning to kill the creep.

Before he can pull the trigger, however, somebody else does, and he is forced to meet a man about an offer. When he finally agrees, he is offered the job of solving “problems” for unknown “clients,” for which he will receive a promotion, his demands and access to any resources he needs. His first job is to extinguish the conflagration of racial murders in a housing project, maintaining calm in the city’s tense summer. Using his innate coolness—he was known as “Chilly’ on his high school basketball team—and survival skills learned in Afghanistan, he cuts a bunch of moral corners and defuses the situation. Suddenly, he’s got a promotion, praise from the chief, flirtation from the New York senator—and another job.

It’s an impossible one.  A Madoff-like character has been put in jail, but no one can figure out where he put all the swindled money. Nick has to find out. Most of the ensuing mayhem and mangled bodies emanate from his effort to get to the guy. His plans are offset by a nosy reporter, and a right-wing newscaster whom Nick riled with his first plan. Coleman keeps the pages turning, and the moral dilemmas popping for Nick. Overall, the book feels a little long for a Coleman noir—but it still feels good.

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