Monday, March 14, 2016
Divorced and working as a courtesy van driver for the run-down hotel in which he has a room, Gus has settled into a mindless, soulless routine that barely keeps his grief at arm’s length. But Gus’s comfortable waking trance comes to an end when ex-con Tommy Delcamino asks him for help. Four months earlier, Tommy’s son T.J.’s battered body was discovered in a wooded lot, yet the Suffolk County PD doesn’t seem interested in pursuing the killers. In desperation, Tommy seeks out the only cop he ever trusted—Gus Murphy.
Gus reluctantly agrees to see what he can uncover. As he begins to sweep away the layers of dust that have collected over the case during the intervening months, Gus finds that Tommy was telling the truth. It seems that everyone involved with the late T.J Delcamino—from his best friend, to a gang enforcer, to a mafia capo, and even the police—has something to hide, and all are willing to go to extreme lengths to keep it hidden. It’s a dangerous favor Gus has taken on as he claws his way back to take a place among the living, while searching through the sewers for a killer. -- Putnam
I am always excited to discover a new-to-me author! In this case, it's Reed Farrel Coleman author of the novel WHERE IT HURTS. It's not that Mr. Coleman is a new author. He has written many books, including Robert B. Parker's THE DEVIL WINS; and he has won numerous awards including the Shamus, the Barry and the Anthony awards. In addition, he is a three-time Edgar nominee. In fact, I'm a little embarrassed to say that I haven't read one of his novels before.
WHERE IT HURTS tells the story of Gus Murphy, a retired cop who really couldn't ask for much more out of life. He had a solid marriage, two kids, and a nice home... that is until a horrible tragedy occurs. After the death of his son, Gus finds that his world has fallen apart. His family life dissolves and Gus ends up working as a courtesy van driver for a hotel near the airport.
When Tommy Delcamino, an ex con, asks Gus for help, Gus discovers that he finally has interest in something. Tommy's son TJ was brutally murdered and found in a wooded lot. The case was never solved... namely because the Suffolk County PD didn't really investigate it. Tommy decides to ask Gus for help because Gus always treated him fairly. He gives Gus his entire savings of $3000; and once Gus accepts, Tommy is soon found murdered too!
After some investigating, Gus learns that Tommy was telling the truth about his son's murder. Everyone involved in TJ's life seems to be hiding something, and many of his associates weren't exactly upstanding citizens. As Gus digs deeper into TJ's past, he finds that he is slowly coming back to the land of the living!
I thoroughly enjoyed WHERE IT HURTS. It was a great story with even better characters and writing! I appreciated how complex Gus's character was, and I especially enjoyed how well the setting of a seedy Long Island was brought to life. Overall, it was a great example of everything I've come to know and love about literary crime novels.
This novel was good on so many levels. The story was really, really intriguing. It was very smart and had some surprising twists. I was definitely impressed where the story went, but also in how the author had Gus navigate his way through this interesting cast of characters. So well done!
Having said that, I think Gus really made this novel work for me. At the beginning of the novel, he truly was a pitiful character. He was pretty depressed and barely functioning, and I was a little concerned for his future. I absolutely loved how complex he was and how much he "grew" throughout the story. It was interesting to see him come back to life through his devotion to solving TJ's murder.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention what an incredible writer Mr. Coleman is. He can seriously write! His prose was excellent, as were his storytelling skills; and the way he brought Long Island to life made it another great character in this story. The pacing was virtually perfect and I think I might need to revisit some of his older books.
I was excited to learn that WHERE IT HURTS is the first in a series of Gus Murphy novels. I adored Gus, baggage and all, and can't wait to see him involved in more crime-solving! Highly recommended to fans of literary crime novels!
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.
Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.