Friday, February 27, 2015

THE WHITES by Richard Price (writing as Harry Brandt)


Years ago, I was blown away by the urban crime epic Clockers and I swore to read everything that author Richard Price had ever written. I got caught up in discovering new authors and (other than reading Samaritan and enjoying it) I've sadly been neglecting his work. I'm kicking myself now because this latest book, The Whites, is wonderful. He wrote it as Harry Brandt, a sort-of-pseudonym that he reportedly used because he wanted to write a more straight-up short cop thriller than Price normally writes. Well, he failed, because this is way more than just a standard thriller. It's not even really a thriller. But what it is is a complex and tragic character piece focusing on an NYPD cop dealing not only with the nightly horrors that he investigates with his Manhattan Night Watch team, but also with the consequences of the past surfacing to threaten his family and friends. 

In my opinion, what has always set Price apart as a writer is his impeccable attention to detail when it comes to character. Most of the great crime writers today still can't match his ability to craft such engaging personalities. And in this novel, that ability is fully on display. Literally every character here, both major and minor, stands out, and is meticulously well-drawn and memorable.  Also, the family-life of both Billy Graves and Milton Ramos were just as compelling to read about as the police investigations. This is a book about friendship and family, as well as justice and morality, and the repercussions that arise in the pursuit of both; the pursuit of your personal White.

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