Hurt Machine by Reed Farrel Coleman

Hurt MachineReviewed by Patricia Reid

When Carmella Melendez, Moe Prager’s ex-wife and former PI partner, shows up at Moe’s daughter Sarah’s pre-wedding party he finds himself reliving the past while trying to keep the future at bay. Carmella needs a favor from Moe. Her sister has been murdered but the police don’t seem concerned about finding her killer. Unable to resist Carmella’s plea, Moe decides to try to find out who killed Alta. This decision does not sit well with Pam, a PI from Vermont and a woman that currently holds a special place in Moe’s life.

Carmella took her son Israel, a child close to Moe’s heart, and went to Canada to live leaving Moe behind. She had also cut her family out of her life with the exception of her grandmother so it was a puzzle to Moe why she was so concerned with her older sister’s murder. Alta and her partner Mayna Watson were EMTs who had refused to give assistance to a dying man at a downtown restaurant. The man’s family were furious and the public had no sympathy for Alta or her partner as evidenced by the ton of hate mail Mayna turned over to Moe to help his investigation.

Moe moves forward in his investigation taking him to places that have held a lot of meaning to him in the past. Moe also renews old acquaintances while making his inquiries. However, his thoughts are always touching on his own future or even if he will have a future. Moe has recently discovered that he is suffering from stomach cancer. This is a fact that he hasn’t shared with his family so he is carrying the burden alone. Carmella has left town and gone back to Canada without saying good-bye. Mayna, Alta’s partner, is uncooperative and only wants to be left alone. It seems no one really cares what actually happened but Moe is determined to find the answer.

It is as if finding Alta’s killer is keeping the cancer at bay in Moe’s mind although his body continually reminds him that the cancer is there and demanding more of his strength daily. He finds all the answers he is seeking and learns why Alta was murdered.

I am hoping that the fact that Moe has cancer is not an indication that the series will be ending. The author’s website states that Hurt Machine is “reportedly the next-to-last Moe Prager book.” If this statement is true, it is a disappointment to me but it looks as though I will have one more book to read in the series.

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