Gus Murphy was looking forward to retirement after a distinguished career as a Long Island policeman, but when his son dropped dead of an undiagnosed heart defect during a pickup basketball game, Gus's life all but ended, too.
His marriage couldn't endure the strain, his daughter self-medicated with illegal drugs and Gus descended into depression.
Now, two years later, he is living alone, subsisting on what little he earns as a courtesy van driver for a crummy hotel and sleepwalking through life.
That's when Tommy Delcamino, a small-time crook Gus used to arrest, shows up looking for help. Tommy's son is dead, too, gunned down in a mysterious murder the Suffolk County police show little interest in solving. At first, Gus wants no part of it and sends Tommy packing. But Gus understands Tommy's pain. So reluctantly, he finally agrees to poke into it.
As he digs into a case, Gus gradually uncovers a web of drug dealing and corruption that makes him, and many of the people who know about it, murder targets. For Gus, the case turns into a cause, and in it, he finds a reason to go on living.
That is the premise of "Where It Hurts," the beginning of a new series by Reed Farrel Coleman. As the author of the Moe Prager detective series and several fine stand-alone crime novels, Coleman has long been one of the best crime novelists in the business. But until a couple of years ago, when he was chosen to continue the late Robert B. Parker's popular series featuring a Massachusetts cop named Jesse Stone, Coleman wasn't making the best-seller lists. Now that he has inherited Parker's fans, a lot more readers are discovering how outstanding this writer's work is.
"Where It Hurts" is a superb detective novel in the Raymond Chandler tradition, featuring fine prose, a suspenseful yarn and a compelling main character who will leave readers hungering for the next installment.