So begins Richard Price's electrifying novel, a tale set on the same turf - Dempsey, New Jersey - as Clockers.
Assigned to investigate the case of Brenda Martin's missing child is detective Lorenzo Council, a local son of the very housing project targeted as the scene of the crime. Under a white-hot media glare, Lorenzo launches an all-out search for the abducted boy, even as he quietly explores a different possibility: Does Brenda Martin know a lot more about her son's disappearance than she's admitting?
Right behind Lorenzo is Jesse Haus, an ambitious young reporter from the city's evening paper. Almost immediately, Jesse suspects Brenda of hiding something. Relentlessly, she works her way into the distraught mother's fragile world, befriending her even as she looks for the chance to break the biggest story of her career.
As the search for the alleged carjacker intensifies, so does the simmering racial tension between Dempsey and its mostly white neighbor, Gannon. And when the Gannon police arrest a black man from Dempsey and declare him a suspect, the animosity between the two cities threatens to boil over into violence. With the media swarming and the mood turning increasingly ugly, Lorenzo must take desperate measures to get to the bottom of Brenda Martin's story.
At once a suspenseful mystery and a brilliant portrait of two cities locked in a death-grip of explosive rage, Freedomland reveals the heart of the urban American experience - dislocated, furious, yearning - as never before. Richard Price has created a vibrant, gut-wrenching masterpiece whose images will remain long after the final, devastating pages.
©1998 Pieface, Inc.; (P)1998 Random House, Inc.
"Chilling - We have come to expect many rewards from Price's work, yet none of his previous novels have quite prepared us for the force of sympathy he is able to generate in Freedomland." (The New York Times Book Review)
"An enormous achievement - Freedomland is Bonfire of the Vanities without the laughs, New Jersey as the ninth circle of hell, and in the end everyone burns." (Stephen King)
"Price shows that he's got the best equipment a novelist can have - that combination of muscularity, insight, and compassion we might call heart." (Washington Post Book World)
Hi! I'm Casey Keller, semi-retired TV writer, avid cyclist, husband and father. I'm also a guy who devours audio books.
First things first, Richard Price is an extraordinary writer. His work in movies "Clockers" and in television "The Wire" speaks for itself. His novels are wonderful. He reminds me of Tom Wolfe in his eye for subtlety and detail. His characters talk like human beings, not puppets set up to say glib things to show off how clever the writer is.
Joe Morton, the narrator, is a world class actor and narrator. Among his acting credits is John Sayles "Brother From Another Planet" where he starred in a feature film without saying a word of dialog. He often narrates the "American Experience" series on PBS.
But the production on this book leaves me torn. The use of music cues is kind of a turn off. It's not as bad as the audio book of "Huckleberry Finn" I bought on Audible a few months ago with its cutesy banjo and harmonica music, that tried to turn one of America's two greatest novels into a carefree, nostalgic romp, but I prefer my audio books unadulterated.
Finally, had I noticed that this was an abridged book, I probably would not have bought it. Richard Price's writing is too winning to be cut down with an editor's machete.
Like most Richard Price stories you really have to pay attention to grasp all the details on this book. But I enjoyed it and it kept me guessing the whole time. The narrator deserves a 5 but the weird music they played occasionally in the background was distracting and annoying.
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