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I bought this novel INSTANTLY as soon as I saw it. I began listening within a couple hours. Even then I didn’t know just how much I wanted a novel like this. There are so few that hit a sweet spot like this one does. Escapist but also authentic. Unsentimental about humanity’s ugliness but revealed with the grace of poetry. Grown ups playing cops and robbers all in a way if feels new.
I won’t talk much about the story itself since you probably read the synopsis already.
First, I love Richard Price. I know his collaborations with Spike Lee and John McNaughton (not to mention his contributions to Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire) as much as from the couple other novels of his that I read. But it was his movies that drew me to him. Clockers especially. I never read the novel version. If there is a big difference, let’s say The Whites: A Novel represents the Spike Lee Clockers version of Richard Price, particularly as this novel would go nicely as a companion piece to Clockers given the latter has elements from 1990s NYC.
The Whites feels like a pilot of a TV series in some ways. I didn’t understand the “Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt” thing, which seems bizarre to me, until I started thinking maybe that’s Prices way of saying this *is* a pilot for him. The start of a series of novels pulpier than his usual and churned out with the regularity of John D. MacDonald and Lee Child. I would love that. Maybe Harry Brandt is Price’s way of telling his fans not to expect Freedomland (thankfully).
Don’t misunderstand, The Whites is a smart, well written and considered story. But it is pulp. It’s kind of like a great, more action oriented episode of The Wire. If you know the Wire, then that’s probably as good a way to explain the flavor of this thing as there is. Except this one isn’t about “reporting” and probably won’t resonate with you as a deeply personal level.
It’s not just a procedural story. it has poetry. Homicide detectives are Richard Price’s poets and the job, the city, are their muse. Justice for victims of cases that haunt them might save their souls or damn then. They’re past the point of knowing the difference or caring for the worst off of them.
Like I said, I think this novel is a “pilot.” I think this story will go on. I hope to see the Wild Geese again. Maybe a visit from characters we saw in Clockers. I’d love that.
I love noirish stories. Frankly though there are only two guys who get it absolutely right time and again. Dennis Lehane. And Richard Price.
16 of 17 people found this review helpful
It doesn't get any better than this book. Richard Price is a masterful writer. I listened to this book almost nonstop and was sorry when it ended. Great character development, challenging and fascinating plot--very few writers in any genre achieve this level of literary excellence. And if there is an Oscar for book narration, this narrator deserves one. Every character was perfectly voiced. This is one of the few male narrators who does justice to women's voices--so many do a high pitched silly voice or make all the women sound like "sexy baby" Marilyn Monroe imitations. This narrator got the female voices and every other character exactly right, adding to the wonderful writing instead of distracting from it. Can't recommend this book more highly.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful