In The Hollow Girl, our May Pick Of the Month, Reed Farrel Coleman gives us the last book, with his painfully human Private Eye Moe Prager. Hired by Nancy Lustig, a woman who appeared in the very first book, Walking The Perfect Square, to find her missing daughter, the case takes Moe to the online blogging and New York acting world in a story that deals with the concept of identity. We caught up with Reed to ask a few questions about his final novel with Moe.
MYSTERYPEOPLE: You ended Hurt Machine with Moe in a pretty good place, what did you feel he needed to go through before you wrapped up the series?
REED FARREL COLEMAN: I felt there was the origin story to tell–Onion Street–so that when I closed the series with The Hollow Girl, there would be a perfect set of bookends. I always wanted to explore Moe as a younger man, before he was a cop, before he was jaded and world weary. When we first meet Moe in Walking the Perfect Square, he’s already done with his police career. He’s been beat up by his life and the job. I wanted to experience Moe and, by extension, the readers to experience Moe before all of that. I wanted to see Moe untainted and untested. I had to do that before I ended the series.
MP: What makes The Hollow Girl case the perfect one for him to go out on?
RFC: It’s the type of story that is symbolic of Moe’s career as a PI and as a man. Not to give too much away, but there have been big regrets in Moe’s life and this was a chance for his redemption and forgiveness.
MP: He’s hired by Nancy Lustig, a woman who has a appeared twice before in the series. For Moe, who has had his share of loves, requited and unrequited, what does she mean to him?
RFC: In our real lives, we seldom get a chance for resolution with past loves–requited or unrequited. Here, Moe gets to experience resolution in a way we don’t often get to. So Moe is symbolically living through something for all of us. I certainly felt that way. There are relationships I’ve had that ended on terrible notes that I wish I could, not so much rekindle, but explain. I think there are apologies I would like to make and talks I would like to have with old friends and lovers. I gave Moe his wish and mine.
MP: While we get get reacquainted with many characters in the past and Moe recalls some previous cases, which happens in a lot of the books, The Hollow Girl doesn’t announce itself as a fond farewell. Was there a reason for that?
RFC: I want readers to enjoy The Hollow Girl as they would any Moe Prager novel. If I kept signaling “THIS IS THE END” all through the book, I don’t think readers would enjoy the book as much as I hope they would. But by the end of the novel, I want them to leave Moe feeling satisfied and uncheated both in terms of the mystery in this book and in terms of farewell. I guess we’ll see.
MP: I read Eight Million Ways To Die right before I picked up The Hollow Girl and noticed a few echoes. You’ve cited Lawrence Block’s Scudder books as an influence. Do you hope your series has anything in common with those books?
RFC: I’ve had the honor of knowing Larry Block, as much as someone like me can know him, for over a decade. Although I have never gushed it to him, because he would hate it, there is little doubt that without Scudder there would be no Moe Prager. When I started the Moe series, I aimed at achieving the same sort of quality and hard reality that Larry Block brought to Scudder. Did I achieve that? It’s not for me to say, but I am proud to have tried my best and glad that I had Scudder there as an example of excellence.
MP: Any last words on Moe?
RFC: THE END
Copies of The Hollow Girl by Reed Farrel Coleman are available on our shelves at BookPeople and via bookpeople.com. Also be sure to check out MysteryPeople’s Pick of the Month review of The Hollow Girl.