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Reed Farrel Coleman, the accomplished and soulful crime novelist who is best known for his Moe Prager series and recently taking on - and energizing - the Jesse Stone series that was begun by the late Robert. B. Parker, is out with the first of what we can only hope will be a new series of novels with a particularly compelling and flawed protagonist. "Where It Hurts" is out this week, and is wonderful.

Gus Murphy is a former Long Island beat cop who has retired after the unexpected death of his son and unraveling of his marriage have pretty much destroyed his heart and soul. He works now as a shuttle driver for a Long Island airport hotel that has seen better days, occasionally working as house detective and bouncer in the hotel bar when necessary. He just wants to be left alone to live out his days, content to marinate in his own misery and loneliness.

But when a thug who he had arrested back in the day comes to him for help in finding out why his own son was murdered, Murphy finds himself reluctantly drawn into the case. He has no interest in being a detective, but Murphy finds in the case the opportunity to make sense of what appear to be senseless circumstances, something he can't do with his own son's death.

Coleman is a fabulous writer, and in this book, he paints a portrait of a Long Island far from the Hamptons of popular imagination - the neighborhoods he describes are flat and depressing places, the main road occupied by strip shopping centers and chain restaurants, and the people more like the kind Elmore Leonard used to write about than those of F. Scott Fitzgerald. In Murphy, he has a terrific protagonist who, I think, will be fun to watch grow and evolve over a series of books.

"Where It Hurts" is a page-turner of a book that you should pick up, read, and then recommend to your friends. It is that good.




Count me among the people who were thrilled with the announcement that "The X-Files" was coming back to television with a limited series of six episodes, produced by, written by and starring the same people who created the cult series back in the nineties.

The first two episodes ran last week, and while they got mixed reviews in the media, I thought that they did precisely what they needed to do, and whetted my appetite for more. The premiere, I suppose, had a little more exposition than necessary, but then again, the show had been off the air for more than a decade, and certain things needed to be accounted for. The second episode was certainly better, in part because it could be more plot-driven, setting in motion events that I think will play out over the next four episodes ... and, if we're lucky, future iterations of the series.

The whole thing hinges on the characters of FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully and their unique perspectives on issues of truth and faith as reflected in their investigations into the paranormal. As always, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson infuse the characters with wit, wry sensibility, and in the end, utter devotion to each other. And that, as always, drives "The X-Files" narrative ... as I hope it will for many years to come.




Had a beer last night that I've never had before - Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale on tap, which was absolutely delicious ... and went perfectly with an order of arancini (risotto balls) and one of the best barbecued chicken pizzas I've ever eaten at a place called The Parlor in Phoenix. Life is good.




Finally ... a couple of weeks ago I did a piece in which I talked about challenging students in a class at the University of Florida in Gainesville - where they are using "The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies" as a textbook - to write an essay about who would play them in a movie about their lives, and why.

I do this a lot when I give talks about the book, but this time something unusual happened ... I got a bunch of emails from MNB readers asking who would play me in a movie about my life.

To be honest,I had to give it some thought ... I'd generally asked the question, but never really answered it. In doing so, I asked my wife and kids who should play me ... and I have to admit that I love their answer.

Martin Sheen.

Now, I might've preferred someone a little younger (not Charlie Sheen), but I love this ... though, to be clear, when we make such choices it should be actors who represent an idealized version of ourselves. As much as I've always loved Sheen as an actor (from his Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now to his Jeb Bartlet in "The West Wing," still one of my all-time favorite TV series), I've also had enormous admiration for a level of faith and social commitment that we do not share, and that I think make him a better man than I am.

These qualities come together in one of his recent movies, The Way, written and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez, about a grieving father who unexpectedly finds himself walking the El Camino de Santiago. (Wonderful movie ... I recommend it highly.)

Of course, my son didn't think about all that stuff when he said Martin Sheen should play me in the movie of my life. He just said we have the same hair.

Go figure.




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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