The Inconsistencies of the Human Heart: MysteryPeople Q&A with Reed Farrel Coleman

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

If you follow MysteryPeople to any degree, you know that I’m a die hard fan of Reed Farrel Coleman. Just check my Top Ten List of 2016. His latest, What You Break, the follow up to the Edgar nominated Where It Hurts, continues with wounded ex-Suffolk cop Gus Murphy as he tries to help his co-worker and friend Slava take care of some men out to kill him. Murphy also takes a job for a shady energy czar, Micah Spears, to look into the murder of his adopted granddaughter. Both cases deal with how people deal with the darkest parts of their lives. It’s a book I can’t wait to discuss with Reed when he comes to BookPeople on February 10th with Robert Knott. Consider these six questions below a warm up.

MysteryPeople Scott: How did you want to challenge Gus in What You Break?

Reed Farrel Coleman: Without giving too much away, I have always been fascinated by the inconsistencies of the human heart. For instance, early in my career I did book signings with a retired NYPD detective who was later convicted of being a mob hit man. He and his partner killed at least seven people, one of them the wrong man, but I knew him as a nice, gregarious guy. Even after I found out that he was a coldblooded murderer, I could not force that other view of him out of my head. In What You Break, Gus is confronted with two men who have done some heinous things. His challenge is what should he do with the knowledge he gains and how should he feel about these men.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Reed Farrel Coleman

Our January Pick Of The Month, Where It Hurts, is another exquisite detective novel from Reed Farrel Coleman, delivering a detective as compelling as his plot with Coleman’s latest creation, Gus Murphy. Gus is a former cop hanging by a thread after the death of his son. When the son of a criminal Gus had previously arrested is murdered, the situation sucks Murphy back into the maelstrom of a cop’s life and causes him to reevaluate his life. Reed was kind enough to talk about characters new and old, and writing in general. He joins us Saturday, January 30th, at 5 PM to speak and sign his lates.t 

MysteryPeople Scott: What drew you to create a character like Gus Murphy for a series?

Reed Farrel Coleman: Gus is one of those rare characters that appeared in my head at the same moment as the plot and setting. I don’t think I could separate Gus from the narrative from the setting. That is always an encouraging sign for me as a writer. When I feel the protagonist is of the place and of the story, it gives me a big advantage when setting out on a new project. I am always suspect of novels when I don’t feel the protagonist is of the setting. Sure, it’s interesting to put your protagonist in an unfamiliar setting to see how he or she reacts, but I never want to feel like you could plug protagonist A into setting X, Y or Z and have it work together. The rare exception, a character like Reacher, sort of brings his own personal setting along with him.

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