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Hurt Machine (Moe Prager #7)

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  422 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
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 h
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published December 18th 2011 by Gallery Books (first published October 11th 2011)
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Dec 26, 2011 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ed by: private detective fans
P.I. Moe Prager is now in his 60s. He has gastric cancer--"God's hurt machine"--when he's approached by his ex to investigate her sister's mysterious death. The case soon plays in the background while Moe deals with his sickness, treatments, and mortality. His hardboiled fatalism and world-weary attitudes seem to become a facade as his will and even zest to live give him a youthful feistiness. The sections of the book where he mulls over his life and situation are the real gems for me. Novelists ...more
Richard (Bound & Determined...)
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
Jan 18, 2012 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 spe ...more
Sep 01, 2011 Harvey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm in the "why doesn't Reed Farrell Coleman get more recognition?" camp.

The Moe Prager series continues to be highly readable yet complex mysteries with the former cop/PI fighting for (his definition of) justice.

Moe has the weight of the world on his this one more than usual. His ex-wife/ex-partner asks him to look into her sister's murder. Old friends are called on; new friends are made as he digs in even after she changes her mind. The conclusion comes after several twists.

Dec 14, 2011 Viccy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
Moses Praeger may be dying. He has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. His daughter, Sarah, is getting married and he doesn't want her to know until after the wedding. When his ex-wife, Carmella, approaches him about finding out who killed her sister, Alma, Moe jumps at the chance to take his mind off his troubles. Nothing is as it appears when Moe begins investigating. Why did Alma and her partner, both EMTs for the FDNY walk away from a man who had a stroke and leave him to die? Why was no one ...more
Jan 17, 2012 C.J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
I picked up this book because it was free and because I had seen Mr. Coleman on a panel this year and really enjoyed listening to him speak.

Moe Prager is a guy I have absolutely nothing in common with. He's old, of Jewish ancestry, an atheist, a former cop and PI. I'm not particularly fond of his philosophy or impressed with his methods. He likes the big city, I prefer open spaces.

So why was I hooked by this book?

The writing is incredibly engaging. Prager jumps off the page and drags you into th
Mar 31, 2013 Ben rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
World-weary PI tries to solve a crime while waxing philosophic pretty much constantly. The harder he tries to sound profound the more trite and shallow his observations on life come off. It reminds me of John Connolly's Charlie Parker novels, complete with an ultra-sympathetic gay character because how else would you know that the author isn't one of the bad guys? On the plus side, this was a very quick read with short chapters. But based on this one I won't be reading anything else by Coleman.
Andrew Smith
Dec 08, 2011 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir-hardboiled
This is the seventh Moe Prager novel from (in the UK at least) this largely unknown writer. It'a a fantastic series, very reminiscent of Lawrence Block's Scudder books. Hurt Machine is a book I could and should read again; I can't help feeling that although I captured the flow of the story I left (skipped over) some of the brilliant prose as I was too intent on finding out what happened next. Very classy stuff.
Dec 30, 2011 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Somewhat slow-moving and predictable at times but a perfectly adequate crime novel. Wouldn't necessarily recommend it or rush out to read another novel by Reed Farrel Coleman, but as it's a free Kindle download, I can't really grumble!
good mystery plotline, but too much angsty end-of-life rueing and regretting
Robert Carraher
Nov 03, 2012 Robert Carraher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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.”

Moe Prager, newly diagnosed with stomach cancer, is a hurt machine. Yet, he is at a happy time in his life. His only child, Sarah, the daughter of his dead wife, Katy, is getting married. It is at the rehearsal, two weeks before the wedding when he is approached by his ex PI partner and second wife, Carmella Melendez who asks him to take on a new and controve
May 18, 2013 Sheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled upon this book when it was offered free for kindle over a year ago. It got buried among all my other freebies until I recently noticed I could get the audible version at a steeply discounted price since I already owned the kindle version. I decided to give it a try and am so glad I did! In regard to the audio version, the reader does a nice job with Moe's voice and narration but just an OK job with the other voices. It wasn't so bad as to put me off listening to it and since the bulk ...more
Jan 19, 2012 Eunira rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, new-writer
Kindly downloaded from NetGalley.

Private investigator Moe (Moses) Prager ponders on the nature of hurt - emotional and physical - as he solves the murder of his ex-sister-in-law, Alta Conseco. This is a case he didn't want for more than one reason - he still has feelings for his ex-wife and it seems that the victim deserved to die. Alta Conseco was a paramedic in New York City, who, with her partner, refused to help an employee of the restaurant they were visiting. Although asked to help the man
Wendy Hines
Jan 14, 2012 Wendy Hines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Moe Prager book, but it definitely read fine alone. As a mystery, it kept me glued to the pages. I wanted to know throughout the entire book what happened but no matter how hard I tried to piece it together, I had no idea what happened until it was revealed. Though the mystery of who killed Alta is the focus of the book, the back story is what really kept me going. Moe is a fascinating character study. In this book he's finding himself faced with some serious life decisions to m ...more
May 30, 2012 J.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
A New York novel by a New Yorker is not the same as a New York novel written by someone from Peoria. I’m not talking so much about the quality of the writing but of the little nuances that can only be added by a person writing about their home-turf.

Reed Farrel Coleman is both a very good writer and a Brooklyn native who brings those nuances to the fore in his Moe Prager stories.

Prager, a retired beat cop, former PI and now the aging part-owner of a chain of wine stores, is not your typical myste
Pete Morin
Mar 07, 2012 Pete Morin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reed Farrel Coleman's Hurt Machine is superb.

The latest in the Moe Prager series, Hurt Machine shows us a depth to humanity that goes far beyond the standard mystery/crime formula.

Prager has learned he has cancer, just as he is preparing to attend his daughter's wedding. Then the woman who left him without warning years before, taking her child with her, appears out of the blue, seeking his help in finding the murderer of her sister.

The sister was an EMT worker. She and her partner were reviled
Gloria Feit
Oct 13, 2011 Gloria Feit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike the previous six novels in the series, this book is a lot more introspective and deep since Moe Prager learns he has stomach cancer. This leads to a lot of looking at the past and present and less at the lighter side of life. But that does not stop the formidable Moe from undertaking another tough task, made especially hard by the time restraints of his daughter’s upcoming wedding in a week and his own possibly limited lifespan.

After a pre-wedding dinner, Moe’s ex-wife and PI partner, who
Kathleen Hagen
Hurt Machine, by Reed Farrell Coleman, A-minus, Narrated by Andy Caploe, Produced by audible inc., downloaded from

Moe Prager’s daughter, Sarah, is getting married in a few weeks in Connecticut and is having a pre-wedding party for her friends in New York City. At this party, Moe’s former PI partner and former wife, Carmella, showed up and persuaded Moe to help her try to discover why her sister, Alta, was murdered. Carmella gives him very little information, but he finds out through
Oct 14, 2013 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moe Prager is back, to do what he feels may be his last investigation. Carmella, his ex, asks him to check into the murder of her older sister.
The older sister, Alta, and her EMT partner, Maya, had made themselves hated in NYC for their refusal to treat a dying men. Moe thinks it may be his last investigation because he has gastric cancer and plans to delay his treatment until after his daughter's eminent wedding. From this point, things get really complicated. Moe, the ultimate mensch, is brill
Mar 01, 2013 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another superb Moe Prager Mystery that grabs hold on page one, and never lets up until the final page. Moe is asked by an ex-wife to find out who stabbed and killed her sister. It's a labyrinth of a plot that is chock full of red herrings and blind alleys, but leads to a stunning (and logical) conclusion.

Reed Farrel Coleman's writing style is poignant and colorful, yet he is able to set-up and propel a fast paced and compelling plot. Not only is the story about a horrific crime which leads to an
Jan 08, 2012 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It was my first time reading this author, and intend to read the other books in the Moe Prager series. The writing style of Coleman is easy to follow, and descriptive enough to hold my attention. Coleman doesn't fall into the trappings of using too many words to fill the void, and I love that.

Prager is real - he's dying, and this book gives an honest portrayal of a man coming to terms with his life and mortality. "Page turner" is such a cliche, but it describes how I felt wh
Joan Curtis
If you're looking for a hard-boiled detective story, this one is a good one. The main character, Moses Prager is a former cop turned PI. That's fairly standard in most PI books. What's different about Moses is that he's got stomach cancer. It was diagnosed in the first few pages of the book. As Moses explores the case and tries to find out who done it, he deals with his own mortality.

Moses is a likable character and although we know he's very ill, we want him to succeed and get better. In the en
Jun 04, 2012 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Beth Schneider
Jun 12, 2012 Beth Schneider rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this is the first book by Coleman that I've read, I didn't feel as if I had stepped into the middle of a series. The private detective who is the main character is very flawed, which I always appreciate. He's struggling with a potentially terminal tumor, the memory of a dead wife, an ex-wife who suddenly reappears in his life, a current girlfriend who isn't happy about that reappearance, and a case that it seems no one wants him within ten feet of. I found it to be a very entertaining r ...more
Catherine Woodman
Moe Prager is a hard boiled kind of guy, and now he is an older hard boiled guy--he is facing surgery for what is presumed to be metastatic cancer in his stomach, and so he is even less patient than usual. His ex-wife asks him to look into her sister's suicide, and while there is no love lost between the ex and him, he agrees to do it. What he uncovers is an unsavory blackmail scheme that has led to a number of murders as well. I enjoyed this book, despite not liking the hard boiled murder myste ...more
Eric Nager
May 03, 2014 Eric Nager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As usual, Coleman doesn't disappoint with Hurt Machine. I have loved every Moe Praeger novel, thi one included. Moe is a bit morbid given his diagnosis of cancer. It gets a tad bit old with the repetition of his woes, but perhaps this is reality when faced with a deadly disease.

Things are tied up neatly in the end, but despite this, it rarely leads to a happy ending for anyone involved. I look forward to my next piece of "Coleman candy", but am saddened that Moe's days may be coming to an end.
I hadn't read any other books in this series or by this author, so I had unrealistic expectations. As Moe deals with a cancer diagnosis while investigating a murder, he becomes quite philosophical about life. I was hoping that he would have an epiphany of some kind, but he remained an atheist to the end of the book, when he was beginning his cancer treatment. The mystery was convoluted, much like Moe's life and relationship with his ex-wife/ex-business partner who hired him for this job.
Dec 29, 2011 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook
Downloaded this because it was a free e-read and was hooked from page one! The lead character, Moe Prager, pulls you into his dark humor and takes you on an investigative ride. You never know if you are investigating Moe's inner demons or the crime itself at times. Coleman does a masterful job of using Moe's cynical nature; a Brooklyn backdrop for the plot; and a crime story that turns into multiple dimensions to proved a quick paced thriller.
Mar 12, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a great portrayal of aging -- watching beloved characters age and get sick is a real skill. Coleman has always been a risk taker in making sure that he shows us how his characters change and grow as events happen in their life. It gives weight and depth to the entire mystery series, and invests me in the overall arc. This is maybe one of my favorites in the Moe Praeger books; it's Moe, not the mystery that I remember most.
John Devlin
A real nice crime novel and the hook is the detective's dying of cancer. I liked it; I rooted for the protags and the twists were clever enough w/out being contrived. The only negative I have to say is my growing dissatisfaction w/the genre. The hard boiled guy, the moral ambiguity, and a murder - wash, rinse, repeat. James Ellroy is the only fellow who's ever been able to rise above the iron constraints of the genre.
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aka Tony Spinosa

Reed Farrel Coleman’s love of storytelling originated on the streets of Brooklyn and was nurtured by his teachers, friends, and family.

A New York Times bestseller called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the “noir poet laureate” in the Huffington Post, Reed is the author of novels, including Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series, the acclaimed Moe Prager series, shor
More about Reed Farrel Coleman...

Other Books in the Series

Moe Prager (9 books)
  • Walking the Perfect Square (Moe Prager #1)
  • Redemption Street (Moe Prager, #2)
  • The James Deans (Moe Prager, #3)
  • Soul Patch (Moe Prager, #4)
  • Empty Ever After (Moe Prager, #5)
  • Innocent Monster (Moe Prager, #6)
  • Onion Street (Moe Prager, #8)
  • The Hollow Girl (Moe Prager, #9)

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“I’ve never let myself get scared off anything in my life and I wasn’t gonna start now. You back down once, there’s no telling when it’ll stop. You let yourself get scared and it never goes away. It fucks up your judgments.” 0 likes
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