MysteryPeople Review: WHAT YOU BREAK by Reed Farrel Coleman

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

9780399173042With Gus Murphy, Reed Farrel Coleman has created one the the most complex and dangerous series heroes of the 21st century. Gus, the divorced ex-Suffolk cop, seeking anonymity as courtesy van driver, bouncer, and house dick for a second rate hotel after the early death of his son, first appeared in the Edgar-nominated Where It Hurts. He chooses to walk on the least solid of ground. We fear for him. He believes that to find his new self, he must destroy his former or current self. This puts his friendships, love life, psyche, and life in jeopardy. In the second book to feature the character, What You Break, we dive further into Gus’ mindset.

Gus finds himself with two cases. He is introduced by his friend, ex-priest Bill Kilkenny, to energy czar, Micah Spears. Spears is willing to to set up a youth sports center in Gus’ sons name, if he can find out why a gang member killed his adopted daughter. The why also plays into the second mystery when a trained killer goes after Gus’s Eastern European friend and co-,worker Slava. Both investigations take Gus to ghosts of past wars and acts of evil no amount of redemption can erase.

Both of these cases are perfect for Gus to explore. While driven by friendship and a need to mark a place for his son in this world, Gus takes on these tasks. What keeps him involved is a need to test himself, challenge his will, and press his luck, thinking he has to die before he is reborn. What he learns about both Slava and Spears give him a glimpse of possible roads he could go down.

The romantic subplot with his girlfriend Magdela, an actress struggling to turn her sex appeal into a career, becomes even more integral in this second outing. It begins as a passionate, heated affair that can consume him and who he was. Magdalena seems chosen for his reinvention. As they begin to feel something deeper, Gus realizes he has something to lose again.

What You Break looks at the aftermath of chaos and dark deeds. Its mysteries delve into question of how do we go on when we can’t completely be put back together. Coleman looks at people who struggle to go on after they can no longer be fully human, making an argument that that is where their humanity lies.

What You Break comes out today! You can find copies of What You Break on our shelves and via bookpeople.comReed Farrel Coleman comes to BookPeople to speak and sign his latest, What You Break on Friday, February 10th, at 7 PM. He’ll be joined by actor, writer and producer Robert Knott, here with his latest continuation of Robert B. Parker’s Hitch and Cole series, Revelation

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