“Where It Hurts” is the first book of a new series written by Reed Coleman, the contracted writer of the Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone books. He introduces the character Gus Murphy, who becomes a grieving father after unexpectedly losing his son, while at the same time attempting to solve a murder mystery.
The plot goes into great detail about how Gus’ world changes on the day his son dies from an unknown heart defect. He is a broken and wounded man, losing everything he loved in his life: his son dying, his wife having an affair with his partner, his job, while his daughter is arrested for a DUI and drugs. Ironically he is brought back to life after being approached by a small time criminal, Tommy Delcamino, who also lost a son without any warning. While Gus lost his son to a disease, Tommy’s son is murdered. As Gus reluctantly agrees to pursue an investigation, he uncovers a major conspiracy to thwart the investigation. Plugging away to find the truth allows Gus to come out of his grieving world. Coleman takes the readers on a journey with Gus as he attempts to find the murderers as well as recover from his walking trance and bitterness.
The most powerful theme in the book is how someone reacts to losing a loved one. Being a policeman forced Gus for more than 20 years to have a distant view of life and death until it became very personal for him. Through Coleman’s descriptions and relatable dialogue, readers will understand Gus’ pain and the nightmare he must face each and every day. It becomes obvious that grief is a very personal issue, as the author shows how someone encompassed with their own sorrow never realizes how others have also been affected. Gus and his family are consumed by their own anguish and in doing so have completely lost perspective of each other.
“I wanted readers to understand how hard it is to put the emotional pain behind you, which is why I put the quote in the book, ‘To heal I suppose there has to be forgetting. There’s no healing if the scab is always peeled away,’” Coleman said. “Gus is not sure who he is or where he is going. He knows what he no longer believes, but does not know what he actually believes anymore. I know one of the biggest clichés is ‘time heals all wounds.’ Gus will always remember, but eventually it will not be at the forefront of his thinking. It will not be as constant and painful. The character’s emotions are a reflection of my own as I tried to put myself in their situation. I hope those who had tragedy in their life contact me, and let me know their reaction.”
The author gave a heads up about his next books. Out in the fall will be another Jesse Stone book, titled “Death To Pay.” Coleman said readers should expect changes in the Spenser and Stone universe after his ex-wife Jen and someone else from Jesse’s past reappears. Also preeminently featured will be former FBI Agent Diana Evens, first introduced in the book “Blind Spot.” Then a year from now, the next Gus Murphy book will be published, a continuation of his journey. The plot includes the exploration of good versus evil: what would happen if you really love somebody and find out they have done some horrible things?
Regardless of which series he is writing, Coleman always has characters with flaws that eventually the reader will root for. “Where It Hurts” main focus is how a person handles grief within a mystery of police corruption, drug lords, and murder.