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Bending the Spine

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: Hurt Machine by Reed Farrel Coleman



"The biggest mysteries in our genre are why Reed Coleman isn't already huge, and why Moe Prager isn't already an icon."—Lee Child
At a pre-wedding party for his daughter Sarah, Moe Prager is approached by his ex-wife and former PI partner Carmella Melendez. It seems Carmella's estranged sister Alta has been murdered, but no one in New York City seems to care. Why? Alta, a FDNY EMT, and her partner had months earlier refused to give assistance to a dying man at a fancy downtown eatery. Moe decides to help Carmella as a means to distract himself from his own life and death struggle. Making headway on the case is no mean feat as no one, including Alta's partner Maya Watson, wants to cooperate. Moe chips away until he discovers a cancer roiling just below the surface, a cancer whose symptoms include bureaucratic greed, sexual harassment, and blackmail. But is any of it connected to Alta's brutal murder?
Hardcover, 300 pages
Published December 18, 2011 by Tyrus Books
ISBN: 1935562649 (ISBN13: 9781935562641)
series: Moe Prager #7


So, my new favorite crime writer is Reed Farrel Coleman.  Hurt Machine is on my Best Of 2011 book list on Goodreads.  Add it to your TBR now.
This is my first Coleman novel, and thus my first in the Moe Prager series (did you notice that this is book #7?).  For this one, you don’t need to have read the others to understand this book.  It’s awesome the way that you immediately understand Moe and feel for him and with him.
Coleman writes with such depth and maturity, that I got emotional reading Hurt Machine.  And I’m not talking about weepy feminine emotional.  This is the dude’s kind of emotional, where you’re all like, “Dude, that sucks.”  Here are two examples from the ARC that really jumped at me:
Death and hurt were pretty present on my mind. I wondered when the former would come and if the latter would ever really disappear. I wasn’t so much concerned with my hurt. I’d been long-hardened to the slings and arrows. No, I was more focused on the hurt I would leave in my wake, the damage I’d done and left unaddressed or unrepaired. Humans are like hurt machines. No matter how hard we try not to do it, we seem to inflict hurt on one another as naturally as we breathe. (From Chapter One)
Only in retrospect is life a simple series of easily connected dots. Humans yearn for simple answers to complex questions, but it just ain’t the way things work. Nothing involving human beings is simple. Nothing! (From page 74)
And the whole book is written like that.  Prose that tears you to the core, rips your being into pieces, then puts all the parts back.  There is a real sense of going through this with Moe, kind of like the feeling of a memoir.  I just hurt for him, felt the wake of his hurt machine.  Especially in the epilogue, Coleman’s writing so heartfelt, honest.  So, human.  The book is dark (Moe has been diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his abdomen) and there is a lot of introspection, but in a good way, it never feels too weighty or overly self-serving.
By this point in a review I have usually dealt with the characters, who I liked and didn’t like.  Um, ok, so I have only one of the many that I don’t like.  I really don’t so much dislike Carm as much as I hate her.  Want to talk about self-serving, she’s completely selfish and inconsiderate.  Take note from the description when she approaches Moe.  Yeah, that’s par for the course with her. 
Moe is my new hero—in that fictional-character kinda way (my dad is actually my hero).  I know he’s completely fictional, but he went through a lot and then at the end, fumbled his way into solving the case!  Way to go, Moe!
Do yourself a favor and read this book…NOW!
5 Trees: Hurt Machine is actually an awesome machine!

Get to reading,

*This book was provided to me by the publicist through netGalley*


  1. I was going to ask if you have to read the others before you read this one, but you completely answered that before I had the chance to ask. Well played.

    When numbers like #7 start popping up, it starts getting a little scary if I haven't at least started the series first.

    Also, I think this cover is very cool.

  2. Sounds like a great read, I'm adding it to my list!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd oUt


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