Hurt Machine (December 2011)
(7th Moe Prager Book)
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?
“Razor-edged contemporary whodunits don’t get much better than Shamus-winner Coleman’s seventh Moe Prager mystery (after 2010’s Innocent Monster). Shortly after the Brooklyn PI learns that he has stomach cancer, Carmella Melendez, his ex-wife, asks him to look into the stabbing murder of her estranged sister, Alta Conseco. Two months before her demise, Conseco and a fellow EMT, Maya Watson, became the subject of international outrage after failing while off-duty to help Robert Tillman, a cook who suffered a fatal stroke at a Manhattan bistro. Prager pursues the obvious course of seeking a link between Conseco’s and Tillman’s deaths. Watson has become an uncommunicative recluse, who provides little help, but the owner of the restaurant near where Conseco died is an old friend and an ex-cop, happy to help in any way he can. Logical and surprising plot twists combine with Prager’s world-weary narrative voice to produce another winner.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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