Still, if he is not now what he has been, the years have brought him what the poet calls the philosophic mind. He has a knack for putting his insights about the human condition and life in general in pithy, almost epigrammatic, tidbits of wisdom. "It is the great folly of humanity, the search for self- knowledge and significance." "Time to think is life's Petri dish." "Only in retrospect is life a simple series of easily connected dots." The book is filled with this sort of philosophizing.
Nonetheless, Prager is committed to finding the truth. It is almost as if he is looking for one last moment of action before what might be the end. Like Tennyson's "Ulysses," it's not too late to seek a newer world. He is dogged in his pursuit of the murderer, what he has lost in physical power, he makes up for with the street smarts he has gained over the years. Still he is old, and there is always a question about how he will hold up and whether he is equal to the task.
The problem I have coming to a book like Hurt Machine without having read any of the others in the series is all the references to people and events that seem to have been treated in the earlier novels. I have the feeling that everything would be more meaningful to me if I understood more about the relationship between Prager and his ex, if I knew more about Nathan Martyr who turns up as a restaurant owner late in the investigation, or if I knew what happened to Prager's first wife. While I am bothered by not knowing as much about such things and many others, it is worth noting that the Hurt Machine is quite good enough to make me want to read the first six to find out what I've been missing.