Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Hurt Machine"

Reed Farrel Coleman has been called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan. He has published fourteen novels and is the three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best Detective Novel of the Year and has been twice nominated for the Edgar Award. Coleman has also won the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards. He is an adjunct professor of English at Hofstra University and lives with his family on Long Island.

Coleman applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Hurt Machine, and reported the following:
Hurt Machine is the seventh installment in the multi-award winning Moe Prager Mystery series, following last year’s release of Innocent Monster. Unlike earlier in the series when there were long gaps of time between events in each book, the events in Hurt Machine take place roughly a year after Moe successfully, if not happily, resolves the case he was working on in Innocent Monster. His daughter is two weeks away from her wedding when Moe receives grave news about his own health. A few days after receiving the bad news, Moe’s ex-wife and former PI partner, Carmella Melendez, shows up to ask a desperate favor of Moe. Moe, who hasn’t seen or heard from Carmella since their marriage fell apart a decade earlier, is none too pleased, but can’t help but be curious. It seems that Carmella’s estranged sister had been murdered on the street outside a popular Brooklyn eatery. The thing of it is, no one in New York City, not even the NYPD, seems very keen on finding the killer. Why? That’s the question, isn’t it? On page 69—a brief coda at the end of a chapter—Moe is in a philosophical and reminiscing about his childhood.
I realized I hadn’t called Pam [Moe’s current girlfriend] or Sarah [his daughter] in a few days. Although Pam was a PI, she wasn’t Brian Doyle’s [tough guy] type of PI. She wasn’t big on surveillance, but she did kick the occasional ass. I wasn’t going to risk waking her, not at that hour. So I looked out my front window at Sheepshead Bay and thought back to when I was a kid and crossing the Ocean Avenue footbridge over the bay to Manhattan Beach seemed like a walk into another world. I was thinking about that kind of walk a lot lately, a walk into another world.
I like this brief passage because it is so Moe. It is grounded in the geography of Brooklyn and its neighborhoods. There is working class Sheepshead Bay just across a small bridge from the more well-to-do Manhattan Beach. On the one hand he is worried about meeting his commitments, to doing the right thing. Yet on the other, he is dealing with childhood memories and contemplating his own mortality.
Learn more about the book and author at Reed Farrel Coleman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Redemption Street.

The Page 69 Test: Empty Ever After.

My Book, the Movie: The Moe Prager Mystery Series.

The Page 69 Test: Innocent Monster.

--Marshal Zeringue