The Whites is the electrifying debut of a new master of American crime fiction, Harry Brandt--the pen name of novelist Richard Price.
Back in the run-and-gun days of the mid-'90s, when Billy Graves worked in the South Bronx as part of an anticrime unit known as the Wild Geese, he made headlines by accidentally shooting a 10-year-old boy while stopping an angel-dusted berserker in the street. Branded as a cowboy by his higher-ups, for the next 18 years Billy endured one dead-end posting after another. Now in his early 40s, he has somehow survived and become a sergeant on the Manhattan Night Watch, a small team of detectives charged with responding to all nighttime felonies from Wall Street to Harlem.
Night Watch usually acts as a setup crew for the day shift, but when Billy is called to a 4:00 a.m. fatal slashing of a man in Penn Station, his investigation of the crime moves beyond the usual handoff. And when he discovers that the victim was once a suspect in the unsolved murder of a 12-year-old boy--a brutal case with connections to the former members of the Wild Geese--the bad old days are back in Billy's life with a vengeance, tearing apart enduring friendships forged in the urban trenches and even threatening the safety of his family.
Richard Price, one of America's most gifted novelists, has always written brilliantly about cops, criminals, and New York City. Now, writing as Harry Brandt, he is poised to win a huge following among all those who hunger for first-rate crime fiction.
©2015 Richard Price (P)2015 Macmillan Audio
"...Fliakos meticulously delivers each voice with full, rich characterizations. It's no surprise that he continues to win awards for his narrations." (AudioFile)
Ears picking up the slack so my eyes can work.
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.
If you think you want to be a writer, don't read The Whites because it will make you feel inadequate. Nobody writes dialogue or sets up scenes like Richard Price regardless of what name he's writing under.
Ari Fliakos doesn't read it, he performs it as though he was inside Price's head as he wrote it.
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.
Say something about yourself!
With such good reviews, i just had to listen to this book. If you are willing use a chalkboard to delve into this book, have at it. Lack of depth is also an issue. I found that i not only didn't care about the characters, i despised them all. I understand Richard Price is a good writer, but i think even he was not impressed with his writing here. Why else would you use a pen name. Overall, not worth a credit.
I've just come off of a run of really mediocre and terrible mystery novels. So reading this was like cleansing my palette. The story is so well put together that even though you know what's going on by about halfway through, it doesn't resolve the tension. You're still engaged and it keeps you engaged right to the end.
NYPD's thin blue line with a conscience. Richard paints a vivid tale with generations of characters. Ari brings them to life. This story is quick paced, suspenseful, and offers twists that are logical yet not anticipated.
This was an enjoyable well written book. Providing the listener with an inside look at the life of detectives. The gut wrenching decisions made on a daily basis. The inside view of the underbelly of society, and a ride along with the people who make the choice to protect and serve. Once you start - you cannot stop.
I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.
Nothing. Richard Price has written a list of books like Clockers and Lush Life which have perfectly captured the underbelly of NYC life. However, IMHO, it is time for him to graduate to some world which is less relentlessly seamy and full of gangsters and cops who are all mixed up in the same stew of violence, drugs, dirty deals, brilliant gangster talk (hear, hear, Mr. Fliakos) and all that jazz. There must be a point in his life at which he wants to grow out of this world and find something a little more peaceful and less horrifying.
Probably not, even though there is a tremendous amount of talent there. As above, I think the milieu that they describe so brilliantly is beginning to wear me down. There is not enough humor, although there is some, to leaven the filth that these characters live in every day of their lives.
Mr. Fliakos is great. He does exactly what Mr. Price asked him to do, and he does it with authority and gusto. His ear for the ghettos and street life is flawless.
You could cut half of them, and what you'd be left with would still be disgusting and full of blood and gore (and veins in ma teeth, as Arlo Guthrie once sang). Too many of these people are alike, and their lives are like blueprints of misery. Generations of them will live in poverty and the futile attempts to grow up out of it. It is, truth be told, very sad.
I can't figure out why I don't love this book because it's actually very good. The characters are well drawn, the plot is complex in a good way, the writing is top shelf, and the narrator is amazing. The pacing is good, descriptions are perfect, and the bad guy has a very sympathetic side. Maybe it's just sort of a bit too dark for my taste. But if you like New York cop stories, this is probably bound to be a classic. The Moby Dick allusions are a bit of a stretch, especially when thinking about the book rather than the film but whatever.
I liked the writing, the language and the performance. However, the story itself was murky and I did not engage with the characters as much as I would want. Stopped listening halfway.
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