“The Churchgoer isn’t a typical noir novel—it’s a smart new twist on the genre…. Defiantly original and faithful to its literary predecessors—the novel’s pacing is perfect, and Coleman does an excellent job building suspense.”
—Michael Schaub, Los Angeles Times
"The Churchgoer uses all the hallmarks of its genre—from punchy sentences to profound and sometimes overwrought observations about the gloominess of life and the terribleness of people, to the youthful ingénue, to the unfolding of a possible conspiracy—in order to tell a story that criticizes every element of these dynamics. As a narrator, Mark is fantastic precisely because he's self-aware in a way that noir doesn't tend to showcase, and because his earnest history as a man of faith who's been through years of loss and pain makes his mind a complex place in which to dwell. His hardness leads to moments of strange grace."
—Ilana Masad, NPR
"Though Mr. Coleman’s book sounds echoes of Raymond Chandler and Kem Nunn, The Churchgoer marks the debut of a strong and original voice in the California noir tradition."
—Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal
“The Churchgoer is at once a cracking noir yarn and an introspective examination of the limits of belief and doubt.”
—Zack Ravas, ZYZZYVA
One of Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of Summer:
“Patrick Coleman combines evangelical malpractice, noirish cynicism, and seedy southern California underworlds in this debut literary noir.… With a palpable nod to Raymond Chandler, this forceful mystery is an exploration of religion, responsibility, and the inverted forces at play in the modern world..’”
—Camille LeBlanc, Lit Hub
“The Churchgoer” is a tightly plotted noir with all the classic tropes of a detective novel; but it’s also an existential rumination on what it means to come to the end of things. The detective’s search for clues to solve the mystery stands in for man’s search for meaning in a world ruled by uncertainty.
—Jim Ruland, San Diego CityBeat
“Written in a hard-boiled voice inspired by Coleman’s love of Raymond Chandler’s detective novels, “The Churchgoer” follows Mark as he attempts to solve the disappearance of a young hitchhiker he met at Angelo’s Burgers in Oceanside… Like Mark, all of these people have demons on their shoulders and secrets that aren’t buried as deep as they think. And their lives overlap and collide on the streets of San Diego, whose clashing cultures and wildly diverse neighborhoods make this county of beaches, deserts, suburban mansions and soulless strip malls a character unto itself. And Coleman — who grew up in Oceanside and now lives in Ramona — knows that character well enough to know there is much more to it than meets the outsider’s eye….
The result is a novel that takes on power-hungry patriarchs, corrupt businessmen and spiritually bankrupt institutions without wallowing in violence or trafficking in tough-guy misogyny. It’s dark in there, but it doesn’t stay that way.”
—Karla Peterson, The San Diego Union-Tribune
“Coleman gets the weeds and brambles right with noir worthy of Raymond Chandler or Elmore Leonard.”
—Will Willimon, The Christian Century
One of CrimeRead’s Most Anticipated Books of Summer.
One of the Star Tribune’s 45 Books to Keep You Reading All Summer:
“Amen for this gripping debut! A prodigal ex-pastor’s compassion for a homeless woman sends him to the altar of a big church and its oversized religion, where he wrestles with the seven deadly sins.” —Carole E. Barrowman, Star Tribune
“Patrick Coleman has a deep understanding of how fundamentalism corrupts religions, turning them into destructive forces, and how this has been especially terrible in the United States, where God can replace the State as law. Only an individual can be "saved," which spawns an anti-government libertarianism.”
—Susan Hoover, Reviewing the Evidence
“This is a California noir with a twist.… Suggest this … to anyone who finds poetry in dark-journey narratives.”
“[R]eaders will be curious to see what the author does next.”
—Publishers Weekly review