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Sleepless City

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Member Reviews

I had heard this author is one of the best of crime writers today but the book was of no interest to me. I kept wondering if the book was based on the type of books Lee Childs  write.s.The entire tone and attitude was so aggressive and so macho that it just didn’t appeal to me. Clearly there is a large audience for this sort of work but I’m not part of that group. I happened to listen to the book on audio and the narrator’s voice was by far the least pleasant I’ve ever read. His voice just reinforced the hard edge of the book which didn’t appeal to me.
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While the summary was straight up my alley (NYC police, outsider, action suspense), the actual story just did not meet my expectations. The writing was good and the pace was appropriate, the tendency to make the lead character exceptional in all ways- from his looks, to his fighting abilities, to his lightning quick decision making, light on his feet, quick witted, irresistible. The other characters followed suit- beautiful, brilliant, rich. There was a real dearth of interesting, character explaining detail. I just did not want to know more about them.
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Sleepless City has been labeled in various press releases as “fast-paced” and a “tension builder” and those descriptions are entirely accurate. Sleepless City is indeed a fun, fast, crime-genre read. The book also uses every single trope the medium has to offer. Reed Farrel Coleman mixes those ingredients into a tasty blend but the distinct lack of originality in both plot and style waters down the cocktail into a sugary mess.  

Introduced within is NYPD detective Nick Ryan. Ryan is something of a fixer. When the city, or the force, or (of course) a cute reporter faces a particularly nasty dilemma, Ryan is called in. He can make photos disappear or calls unlisted numbers holding unlisted favors. Yet Sleepless City is also Ryan’s origin story. Coleman tells the tale of how Nick is recruited by an elite institution within the walls of City Hall where his honor, street smarts, and (of course) good looks can benefit all of the Five Boroughs.  

Nick’s first assignment is to cover up a housing project shooting that went wrong. Then he hunts a dirty financier who has stolen NYPD pension money – a financier who is already incarcerated and ain’t talking. Uh-oh. 

Coleman makes Nick Ryan a likeable guy. He has Captain America morals with the Punisher’s instincts. He’s the right guy in the wrong place. Yet the set up? His actions? Reactions? Everything?

Has all. 

Been done. 


He drives a classic muscle car. 

His father was unfairly branded a traitor. 

He has a hot ex-wife whose social station orbits on interplanetary levels. 

His friend is an Irish bartender with a (wait for it) mysterious past. 

He has access to the slickest hacker on the Internet.  

And I’m pretty sure he already has a five-season deal with Taylor Sheridan for Paramount+. 

Hey, look. A wise baseball player once talked about learning your clichés. He said to know them; they’re your friends. Coleman has taken this as gospel. And he makes a good preacher within his religion. He is also sermonizing to a one-tune choir.  

Coleman does know how to punch up the action and throw in some hard-boiled motions. Ryan and one of his operatives take down a rather nasty serial rapist in a rather satisfying way. Coleman also gets poetic on comparing the rhythm of the streets to classical, jazz, and punk rock – and gets it right.  

Above all, Coleman knows that Sleepless City is pure escapism; his tempo is a success. Sleepless City is a fun novel to read into the wee hours of the night.  

If only the main beats were more original so that it wouldn’t fade away in the morning fog.  

Or get lost in a wet ring on a table in a dive bar.  

Or soaked up by the sounds of the city that never sleeps.  

You can choose the cliché.  

Thanks all around to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for the advanced read along with a New York state of mind.
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Farrel Coleman has penned my new favorite anti-hero. Nick is larger than life and I really liked him, but he is not a nice man. New York is equally a character and helped the story flow. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
4.5 Stars
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Reed Farrel Coleman is one of the best existing crime writers. He masterfully wrote several of the late Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series novels. And so much more. Now with SLEEPLESS CITY, he introduces a new series, and an intriguing new character. Nick Ryan is a veteran cop, but more than that, he’s a “fixer” in the truest sense of the word. Need to find someone, manipulate someone, eliminate someone? Nick can handle that. He stalks the mean streets of New York with skills that few possess. SLEEPLESS CITY is a relentless, unflinching, torridly paced story that is populated by wonderful characters, plot twists you’ll not see coming, and writing that is as good as it gets. Do not miss the beginning of a series that will be around for many years.

DP Lyle, award-winning author of the Jake Longly and Cain/Harper thriller series
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Wow! Did I love this book. Nick the main character is such a believable hero. This book is full of suspense and hard to put down. I highly recommend this book. I can’t wait for the next one in this series.
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R.F. Coleman is as good a police procedural writer as there is. And that says a lot in a sometimes overcrowded field filled with mundane and banal writing and writers. Coleman has many novels, most recently writing for the late great Robert Parker estate.

It has been a few years since Coleman's last effort using characters of his imagination. And the reader is better off for it. The Sleepless City focuses on Nick Ryan, an Afghanistan veteran who worked undercover for NYPD. Nick's father was also NYPD and became a modern-day Serpico exposing corruption and deceit among his fellow cops, and for that, there are consequences. A few wealthy citizens hire Nick. While on this job, he also agrees to help a young cop, the son of a major power player within NYPD. The tension mounts as he continues his initial investigation. Eventually, a reporter for a small paper attempts to discover what Nick is up to; as this happens, fires, shootings, and mayhem occur. The Sleepless City is a vastly entertaining procedural that will leave readers begging for more. And who better to meet that demand than R.F. Coleman, a master crime fiction writer.
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Sleepless City is a gritty look at police corruption that absolutely captures the dark underbelly of the Big Apple. Nick Ryan is a hero who is easily lionized but can be repulsive at the same time. He does the dirty jobs that are necessary to achieve justice but we shrink from. Reed Farrel Coleman's best work to date.
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★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up)
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
I really want to tell you everything about this book—and I also want to tell you nothing at all beyond what the jacket copy is going to say and just tell you that if that sounds good to you—it is, and maybe better than you think. If that doesn't sound good to you, it still is, but it's probably not your cup of tea. Let's see if I can accomplish something in-between.

Nick Ryan is a detective with the NYPD—that's all he's wanted to be, and he's good at it. Sadly, because his father did the right thing and testified against a number of dirty cops several years ago—Ryan (and his father) are hated by most of the rank and file (and probably more of those above those). It doesn't matter what Ryan does, his career is going nowhere. He's still doing good work and seems to accept his lot in life.

Until a few things happen—I'm going to ignore those and move on to the results: Ryan is recruited by a lawyer representing unnamed interests who are going to change things for him. He's going to get a promotion, he's going to get to choose what cases he works on—whatever strikes his fancy and curiosity. But when this lawyer calls, he will push pause on everything in his life to take care of whatever these interests want. He's basically going to be a fixer for the NYPD, cleaning up messes they can't, preventing problems, and essentially doing whatever needs done. They'll provide the resources (off the record and unseen), and he provides the results.

In Sleepless City we get the origin story for Det. Ryan, we see his first two cases, and get an idea what the resulting series should look like. Here's the best thing about these two cases (which I'm going to share even if some might consider it mildly spoilery to do so because it's a great selling point): unlike in 95% of thrillers/procedurals these two crimes that apparently have nothing to do with each other do not come around in the end to be related. They are actually distinct from each other. The resolution of one has practically nothing to do with the other (only that some goodwill generated by Ryan in one situation keeps him out of hot water in another).

A few recent incidents (nationally and in the city) have tensions high between the police and black communities at the tipping point. Ryan's called into the scene of a shooting death of an interracial couple by someone who never should've joined the police. Ryan's impulse—and that of several others, it should be noted—is to let the facts come out honestly.

But with the city near the boiling point, the fear is that the ensuing riots will leave too many dead, too many homes and businesses (and survivors) ruined, and the outcome of the protests and riots uncertain. Ryan has to cover this up without turning the victims into anything but victims.

So right away, you know that this book/series is going to live in morally gray (at best) areas. The lengths Ryan goes to—and the means by which he tries to accomplish this coverup are, tell you just as much about the way this series is going to work while the ends tell you about the ethical quagmire it tries to navigate.

The second issue centers around a Madoff-like character who stole a billion or so dollars—a large amount came from various law enforcement unions. The havoc wreaked on the first responders by this loss is great—and the consequences for Ryan's brother (as an example) are devastating.

They're going to be able to put Aaron Lister away for a long time—there's no doubt about that. But no one can find the money—and nothing that the police, the FBI, or the courts have been able to do can get Lister to reveal where it is so they can try to repay the retirement funds.

Enter Nick Ryan.

We get the idea early on that Nick Ryan is a stand-up guy, ready to do the right thing regardless of the consequences. But after the events that I alluded to before his recruitment, he takes a different position on the legality of his actions (and maybe that was present before, but it's certainly strengthened now)—it's about the end result for Ryan now.

He'll cut corners, he'll make deals with whatever devils he needs to, and he'll resort to methods that are so far beyond the pale of right, moral, or legal that they should be measured in light years.

In the real world—I'd hate someone like him and want to see anyone doing these vigilante acts imprisoned. And it's not just Ryan, all law enforcement characters like him—Raylan Givens should be tried on several charges, Jack Reacher should've been locked up (not for the reasons he was initially arrested when we meet him—but for everything else in that book, and the dozens following). I want Malcolm Fox to expose Rebus for the offenses he's committed (not necessarily the one's Fox thinks he has, though). Kate Burkholder should confess to shooting that man (in self-defense) and the coverup of that shooting in her teens. And so on.

But in fiction? Bring. It. On. I love this stuff. Particularly because I don't think Ryan's modus operandi is sitting well with him—I'm betting as the series progresses, we're going to see him having a harder and harder time with what he's doing. Possibly even driving him to eventually trying to bite the hand that feeds him and exposing the interests directing him to the world (and going down with them).

I don't have time to talk about the mess that is his personal life—but there's plenty of fodder there for personal subplots for years to come.

I had a great time with this book—it's a great action ride and you can spend hours debating the ethical questions it raises (with yourself, with the book, or with others—and I can't wait until people I know have had the chance to read this so we can have those discussions).

The speed at which Ryan is able to pull off these fixes probably strains credulity, but this isn't the kind of book to care about how long things take. And by the time you start to wonder about plausibility, you've blown past the point where the question arose and you're more focused on what happens next.

Because he's the reigning gold standard, I will say there are a couple of scenes where Ryan gets to have a Jack Reacher-esque moment, scenes that have nothing to do with the plot, just a chance for Reacher/Ryan to demonstrate their abilities and stop a wrong outside of the primary storylines. The way that one of these resolves is so un-Reacher that I laughed and re-read it to see where Coleman made you think Ryan was going to try to match the ex-MP's style. Ryan can be violent when he needs to be (quite), but he starts with his brains and mouth when he can in a situation—as satisfying as a good fight scene can be, someone thinking and talking his way through a problem can be as fun.

I think Coleman pulled off quite the feat here—this doesn't feel like his previous work (although I freely admit I haven't read as much of his earlier work as I want to, so maybe it does). This is more about action and less about reflection and thought. But it's not mindless violence and the Ryan is a thoughtful character.

There are moments of fun—Coleman's able to slip in a joke or two, too. But really this book is all about forward momentum, as if once Ryan has taken on this role he can't stop moving and the book follows suit.

I assumed going in between the premise and my past experience with Coleman that I was going to enjoy the book—but Coleman and Ryan delivered something not quite what I was expecting—and Sleepless City is better for it.

I hope I'm reading these books for years to come—and suggest you pick up Sleepless City as soon as you can.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Blackstone Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for this post—thanks to both for this.
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Coleman has been referred to as a hard-boiled poet and in SLEEPLESS CITY he provides much justification for the moniker, including lines like this beauty near the end of the novel: "Nick had an affinity for trees as they were now: bare, when you could see their complexities apart from the distracting beauty of their leaves." Simply fabulous writing. Better still, characters that leap off the page and a thorny and satisfying plot. The logline on the cover gives some semblance of an understanding of the aforementioned plot, but within these pages readers will discover nuances to the Nick Ryan character that will make them want to read future tales. And I so hope there will be future Nick Ryan stories to unravel. Reminiscent of The Equalizer, Nick is an intriguing, beguiling, intelligent character far too often absent from the cookie cutter thrillers on bookshelves. Call me a fan. Highly recommended.
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Just finished what will gel into an interesting new series from an author I really enjoy.
Full Murder in Common review available here:
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Nick Ryam is a dedicated cop, who knows the system is rigged.  So, what can one man do?  He's a pariah in the NYPD because his old man ratted out bad cops.  The love of his life married another man while he was fighting overseas.

He's given the chance to right wrongs as he sees fit, with unlimited support and budget.  But is working outside the law the best way to serve justice? With conflicted loyalties and a divided soul, he’s a veteran cop still fighting his own private war. He’s a soldier of the streets with his own personal code.  With great characters and fast-paced action, this one is highly recommended.  #SleeplessCity #NetGalley #SaltMarshAuthors
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Can one cop do the right thing in a city where so much is wrong?

Nick Ryan is a good cop and former soldier working in NYC, where corruption and rot are everywhere…both within and outside of the police department.  He also regularly confronts ill will from fellow cops, payback for the fact that his father had testified against bad actors within his own precinct.  That is not a sin that is readily forgiven, and even though his father had done the right thing, it has cost him and his sons dearly.  Nick’s friend and former mentor Pete Moretti let his last case get too personal, and when it became apparent that the pedophile and serial killer who had tortured, raped and killed several young boys was going to go free due to lack of evidence,  Pete decided to plant some to seal a conviction,,,doing the wrong thing for the right reasons…but was caught and booted from the force in disgrace, and ended up eating his gun.  Nick decides to use his knowledge of the city and his many skills to kill the pedophile himself but frame it to look like something altogether different.  If it works, great, and if not he is prepared to take the consequences.  He sets the plan in motion, and is on the verge of shooting the pedophile when a stranger appears and kills him instead, telling Nick to just leave.  Nick does, and is in short order taken to meet a man he’ll come to call Joe, a lawyer representing a small group of people with an interesting proposition.  There are times when situations arise that can not be brought to an appropriate resolution using normal channels.  They would like Nick to become their go-to person in such matters, someone who can assess the situation, develop a plan of action that will have the desired result, and execute that plan.  In return, this group will make sure that Nick has access to whatever information, tools, and people that he needs to get it done.  For someone like Nick who is frustrated that the right thing to do is not always what is allowed, it is a tempting offer.  Who are the people behind this group?  And for someone like Nick, who has a strong sense of right and wrong, will he able to live with sometimes doing something very wrong in order to make something very right happen in the end?
In Nick Ryan, we have a new hero.  He’s equal parts  “The Equalizer”, Jack Reacher, and Evan Smoak, all against the noir backdrop of New York City, the city referenced in the title.  He’s got his demons, including a failed romance that he’s not quite over, a father seeking refuge in a bottle as he deals with the fallout over turning on fellow cops, and a brother who is one step away from screwing up his life in spectacular fashion.  He is a master plan maker, has a quirky group of resources of his own upon whom he can call when needed, and thinks that this unorthodox arrangement might just be the way to bring a little more justice to those to whom the system generally gives the short end of the stick.  I throughly enjoyed Sleepless City, and look forward to what I hope will be future excursions of Nick Ryan.  Readers of Lee Child, Michael Connelly, and Gregg Hurwitz (among others) should add this to their TBR list.  Thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for access to an advanced reader’s copy.
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Full review to be posted on

As a fan of crime thrillers by Don Winslow and Michael Connolly, I was immensely surprised to find a hugely satisfying and intriguing fusion of the two with an equally dark and timely take on the world we live in.

Reed Farrel Coleman introduces a witty no-nonsense cop to the thrillerverse in the form of Nick Ryan. He’s no ordinary cop. He’s the one who cops call when they get in trouble. When his solo-vigilante tactics draw the eyes of a secretive group of higher-ups who wish to maintain the peace by doing what needs to be done, Nick Ryan decides to become a part of the clandestine movement working in the shadows to prosecute criminals and take a more heavy-handed action when needed. Ryan quickly demonstrates his prowess when he expertly dismantles the catalyst to a race-war. In the meantime, his actions kickstart a chain of events that lead to a bounty on his head. Can Ryan save his city and himself before the darkness pulls him into the abyss?

What I loved tremendously about Sleepless City is the vibrancy of the gritty and criminalistic atmosphere where Nick Ryan operates. There are layers upon layers of characters that unfold to show a nasty side that comes along with fighting fire with fire. That goes twice for Ryan as he works to keep the city safe with good and honest intentions but his actions tend to give you pause. It’s quite intense because the situations are rooted in the simmering tensions we read about in the news today, making you wonder if we’ve got Nick Ryans going around in our cities. 

Sleepless City is a dark read with edge-of-your-seat-pacing and winding twists and turns that hold your attention without fail. It’s a genuine story of how good and evil can sometimes balance on a thin line, and how it’s the little actions that sometimes tip the scales big time.
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NYPD Detective Nick Ryan has a mission in mind as Sleepless City: A Nick Ryan Novel begins. Ricky Corliss is a seriously bad dude and the city, even the entire planet, would be better off with him dead. Since nobody else is going to do it, Nick Ryan is going to do the job. He has a score to settle.

He is within seconds of achieving his goal when he is interrupted. In the aftermath, he has a new problem. A problem that is only barely solved by accepting the idea of working for those who interrupted his planned murder of Ricky Corliss.

It isn’t about staying a cop. It is about staying alive. If he works for them, he will have unlimited resources to address all sorts of problems. But, he will have to work the situations they assign him. They want results and expect them. Their agenda, whatever it might be, is not his own. They have made it clear that he is a tool that serves as a means to an end. They have many such tools.

The situations he will be expected to resolve will not be easy. Acting on their behalf might even get him killed. But, if he wants to live in New York, and not be on the run the rest of his life, he has no choice. 

A complex character is introduced in this first book of a new series. Nick Ryan was shaped by war and is now a cop focused on his own moral code. In Sleepless City: A Nick Ryan Novel, there are no clear friends. There are a few clear enemies. Everybody else is a murky shade of grey and secrets are as rampant as the very air they all breathe.

Incredibly complicated and highly entertaining, Sleepless City: A Nick Ryan Novel by Reed Farrel Coleman is one of my favorite reads of the year. It very well might be yours too. I am sure it will be picking up awards. 

Strongly recommended.

In addition to a print ARC from the author, I also received the eBook ARC by way of NetGalley. There was no expectation of a review in either case. 

Kevin R. Tipple ©2023
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I’m a fan of Coleman’s Moe Prager and Gus Murphy series and was extremely excited to have the chance to read this one.  I can’t say that I like it as much as either of those, especially the Prager ones which I think are excellent.  I did find it entertaining in that rogue,  supernaturally intuitive, impossible to kill  “hero” that understands things are not always black and white and is willing to do what it takes way.  Would recommend if that is something you find enjoyable. I will definitely be reading the next in the series if there is one.
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Sleepless City by Reed Farrel Coleman
Rating: 4 stars

Summary: A rock star New York City cop is a problem solver for the NY elite that do not want problems. He is given any means to fix the problems that arise from a bad police shooting. This leads to more problems to be solved. 

Comments: I really liked the premise of the story, but for some reason the flow was just a touch off for me. Good news, it appears Coleman has a second novel with Nick coming soon
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My thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for the opportunity to read Sleepless City by Reed Farrel Coleman.  I feel like I've waited a long time for Nick Ryan; he was worth the wait.  I fell in love with Mr. Coleman's writing within only a couple of pages of Walking the Perfect Square and have read everything Mr. Coleman has written since.   Moe Prager's a tough act to follow, but the author, in my opinion, has never stumbled.  I'm thinking Nick Ryan will be around for a very long time.
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