Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman is a gritty, atmospheric novel about the other side of Long Island, far from the wealth of the Hamptons, where real people live—and die. It is nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Novel.
There’s a lot to be said for not just a bold opening paragraph but one that sums up the main protagonist to such crystal-clear perfection. Listen to the voice of retired Suffolk County cop Gus Murphy:
Some people swallow their grief. Some let it swallow them. I guess there’re about a thousand degrees in between those extremes. Maybe a million. Maybe a million million. Who the fuck knows? Not me. I don’t. I’m just about able to put one foot before the other, to breathe again. But not always, not even most of the time.
Here’s a near-defeated character that wants to rise again, but it’s a long shot at best … it’s like Cornell Woolrich, hardboiled mixed with detective edge. Gus is grieving over the death of his son John Jr., his marriage to Annie is over, and his daughter Kristen is heading torpedo fast to rock bottom—a casualty of not only her brother’s death but her parents’ uncoupling. Gus lives at the Paragon hotel where he works as a house detective (that’s still a thing?) and drives the taxi van three times a week to shuttle people to and from the local airport.