This doesn't mean his fiction is devoid of deadpan wisecracks, but none is about death, dying or killing. Soul Patch, the fourth of Coleman's Moe Prager mysteries, offers this somber flight of imagination on how we deal with death and how things might be different:
"When everyone was gone, the three of us stood around watching the backhoe driver unceremoniously dumping bucketfuls of dirt on Larry's coffin. Got me thinking about how disconnected we were from death. It was easy to blame drugs, movies, TV, and video games for violence and the devaluation of human life. Bullshit! The real culprit was the lack of intimacy with death. When you're unfamiliar with death, you're disrespectful of life. No one dies in his or her bed anymore. ... Why should any of us respect death when we make it as remote as the mountains of the moon? I have often wondered whether it would be a little harder for a killer to pull the trigger or shove the blade in a second time if he had washed his dead brother's body or dug his mother's grave. What if he had watched his dad die an inch at a time from cancer and sat by the deathbed day after day after day? What if there was no church, no funeral home, no hospital, no way to pass the responsibilities of death off to strangers. How much harder would murder be?"Kind of a serious flip side to John Lennon's "Imagine," isn't it?
© Peter Rozovsky 2010