Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Of Books & Beagles (No Boobies…yet)

Last April I met author Reed Farrel Coleman at the LA Times Festival of Books. He was able to help mutual friend and author Sara Henry (Sara in Vermont blog) pick me out of a crowd (before that we'd only met "virtually" through our blogs). And now I'm thrilled to be participating in the blog tour for his new book, Innocent Monster. Especially because the book involves wine…and a beagle. Here's some official stuff about the book and then we'll get to the really meaty stuff…you know, my questions:

About the book:

"Sashi Bluntstone, the 11-year-old Next New Thing on the New York art scene, has been abducted, and Moe Prager—former NYPD cop and former PI—is asked by his estranged daughter, Sarah, to join the search. He expects only tragedy; Sashi has already been missing for three weeks, and he hasn't been a PI for seven years. Now a well-to-do wine merchant, Moe agrees, primarily to attempt to restore his relationship with Sarah." – from Booklist

And now for my hard-hitting questions for a hard-boiled p.i. writing kinda guy:

1) Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way. Tell us what's hot in wine right now. Kidding! But what wine do you suggest readers indulge in when they first sit down with Innocent Monster? And how about when they finish it? (Obviously this book is worth two bottles, no?)

I'm all about reds and so is Moe. In fact, reds are allegorical for the books and the series: very complex, about different flavors and sensations at different points of the drinking experience, changeable. I would suggest three wines for Innocent Monster. I would begin with a South African Shiraz, transition to an old vine California Zinfandel, and finish with an aged French Cabernet.   

2) Where does your wine knowledge come from? My significant other, a wine guy himself, says you know your stuff.

I worked for a French transport firm for five years in the 80s and got a rudimentary wine education. They were big on office celebrations which meant lots of Champagne. I'm a dry, yeasty Champagne, not lemony kinda guy. My older brother David, the model for Moe's brother Aaron, has long been an oenophile and has a sommelier's certificate. He's the source of most of the details about wine in the book. I know the basics, but he knows the specifics. Now my oldest brother Jules has gotten into wine in a big way. Half the emails I get are from We're allreds guys, but Jules and David do white too.      

3) I assume you do not feel compelled to kill people or solve mysteries during book signings and conferences, but do you feel obligated to be drinking wine? (This would be such a fantastic excuse for constant imbibing that I'm really hoping for an affirmative answer here!)

One never needs feel the obligation. Drinking red wine is my default setting. I like the occasional beer or gin and tonic, but these days it's all about the red wine. Plus, at conferences, drinking can get a little ridiculous and with a glass of red in your hand you can stretch a glass out for a long time but still enjoy it. Try that with a beer. Doesn't work. I didn't even need your prompting to say that red wine drinking is just the perfect drink at conferences, conventions, and book events.  

4) A beagle or two makes an appearance in Innocent Monster (and surprisingly, not as the title character). When did you first realize they are in fact the greatest dog ever?

My closest and dearest friend Ellen, a school librarian, always hated dogs. I mean HATED dogs. So when she decided to get a beagle, I knew they were magical and mythical creatures. And the beagle she got, Olivia, is just the coolest dog. She loves her Uncle Reed to no end and howls for me when she hears my car pull up to the house and makes me pet her, which I would do without prompting anyway, for 15 minutes before she calms down. She even smiles at me. Olivia is the model for the dogs in the book and she did in fact eat all of Ellen's family's Hanukah gelt (chocolates shaped like coins and wrapped in gold foil). God, she was really sick for days.

5) Do you think that the beagle will take over all future novels and suddenly you'll be the beagle mystery king giving the cat mystery genre queens a run for their money? Beagles have that sort of mind-bending power, you know.

Hey, if there are cat and dog detectives already, why not have a beagle be the Sherlock Holmes of animal detectives?

6) You've covered wine and beagles in a book - which pretty much covers the three most important things in my life. Do you think you can get breast cancer into your next novel and confirm that you are in fact stalking my life for writing inspiration?

Read the next Moe book, Hurt
Machine and see if I don't surprise you.


Obviously we can expect to see Reed back on this blog. I'm thinking Moe is one of the 2,000 men a year diagnosed with breast cancer. (Hey, at least it's fictional!) And here's a bit more about Reed. Please note that among his awards is the "Shamus Award" (and for today, he gets the "Seamus award"). But the most important part about him is that he would be eternally grateful if you now went and bought his book (or really, all of them). You can do that on the link right below.

About the author:

Reed Farrel Coleman has been called a hard-boiled poet by NPR's Maureen Corrigan and the noir poet laureate in the Huffington Press. He's published eleven novels—two under his pen name Tony Spinosa—in three series, and the stand-alone Tower co-written with award-winning Irish author Ken Bruen. Reed has won the Shamus Award for Best Novel of the Year three times, won the Barry and Anthony, and twice been nominated for the Edgar. He is a co-editor of The Lineup and was the editor of the anthology Hard Boiled Brooklyn. The former executive VP of Mystery Writers of America, Reed is an adjunct professor at Hofstra University. You can reach Reed on his website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Innocent Monster 


  1. Do you think Reed would be okay with me reading this while drinking vodka instead of wine? I'll have a beagle in the room so that should balance things out. :-)

  2. Chrissy, I'm pretty sure that if you buy the book, Reed's okay with you drinking whatever you'd like! The beagle in the room is just bonus points.


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