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Where It Hurts: A Gus Murphy Novel    by Reed Farrel Coleman order for
Where It Hurts
by Reed Farrel Coleman
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's the first in an exciting new series by award-winning author Reed Farrel Coleman. In Where It Hurts, he introduces ex-cop Gus Murphy, whose family - and entire life - fell apart after the death of his son. Now he and his wife Annie are divorced, while their daughter Kristen is on a downwards spiral of drinking and drugs.

Gus has taken an undemanding night job as a courtesy van driver and bouncer for the Paragon hotel (near Long Island MacArthur Airport), where he has free accommodation. But then his life changes once more. He's approached by small-time crook Tommy Delcamino, whom he'd often arrested, for help in investigating the torture and murder of Tommy's son T.J. (which the authorities apparently are not pursuing).

Gus's reflex action is to refuse to get involved, but after Tommy is murdered (by men who were obviously looking for something they believed he possessed) and Gus is shot in the leg, his dormant investigative instincts are aroused. And he wonders why everyone around him (including cop friends) warn him to stay far away from the case. Of course he keeps digging himself deeper and deeper into trouble.

Fortunately, a new friend has his back, Slava, a fellow employee at the Paragon, who has a murky past and surprising skills, a gorilla with the 'soul of a poet'. He's needed more than once as Gus goes up against dangerous drug dealers, and becomes 'radioactive' to police authorities - why?

There's plenty of blood and scandal before it's all over, but expediency rules the day. And, along the way, Gus begins to 'relearn how to like the world and the people in it.' Where It Hurts is a compelling mystery with a lead who easily wins our sympathy, and I hope we will have more of Gus Murphy, soon.

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