Where does it hurt? Everywhere you can possibly imagine, if you’re a Long Island ex-cop pressed into taking a dead-end case on behalf of a dead client.
The sudden death of his son, John Jr., on a basketball court ended Gus Murphy’s life as he knew it. Two years later, he’s retired from the Suffolk County PD, divorced from his wife, Annie, on the outs with his self-destructive daughter, Kristen, and eking out a living working as a house dick and van driver for an airport motel. So one thing he’s not prepared for is a visit from Tommy Delcamino, a petty crook he arrested more than once, who’s not satisfied that the cops have done everything they could to catch whoever killed his son, TJ, a car thief who was tortured to death last summer, and offers Gus $3,000, every cent he has, to look into it. Assuming that Tommy D is counting on his own bereavement to garner his sympathy, Gus throws him out, and by the time his old friend Father Bill Kilkenny, a police chaplain who’s left the church, has persuaded him to apologize to Tommy, the potential client is about to follow his son to the grave. Now it’s impossible to pull Gus, whose depressive streak is matched only by his bulldog determination, off the case. Tracking down three lowlifes connected to TJ—drug lord Kareem Shivers, local dealer Lamar England, and mobbed-up carting scion Frankie Tacos—he quickly finds himself in a whirlpool of sex, drugs, murder, and warnings to walk away. The plot never exactly thickens, but a significant proportion of the cast will end up sleeping the big sleep.
Fans who find Gus’ “portable dark cloud” appealing will be glad to know that Coleman (Robert B. Parker’s The Devil Wins, 2015, etc.) plans to build a new series around him. Bring on the gloom and doom.