Sunday, February 14, 2016

WHERE IT HURTS by Reed Farrel Coleman

© by Gerald So | | 9:15 A.M.

Driving the courtesy van for the Paragon Hotel near McArthur Airport is retired street cop Gus Murphy's robotic way of mourning his son John's sudden death from an undiagnosed heart defect. One of Gus's frequent arrests, Tommy Delcamino, asks him to look into his own son's murder, the Suffolk PD not giving it much of an effort. At first, Gus refuses in outrage, thinking Tommy is simply taking advantage of his grief. Days later, Gus tries to apologize but walks in on the aftermath of Tommy's murder. Belatedly, Gus decides to look into the Delcaminos' deaths for the closure he'd never had in John's death.

Much of Coleman's previous fiction has explored deep, set-in pain and the shadow it casts on the present. A versatile writer, though, he's able to filter the theme through many different characters. The mean streets Gus goes down are familiar to me as a Long Islander, and I quickly warmed to Gus's friends at the Paragon, but most appealing, Where It Hurts offers a plot in which very few noses are clean, making it delightfully difficult to see the twists coming.

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