Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Whites - Harry Brandt

My review of The Whites by Richard Price, writing as Harry Brandt, first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am posting it today with their permission. Hope you enjoy.

First line: "As Billy Graves drove down Second Avenue to work, the crowds worried him: a quarter past one in the morning and there were still far more people piling into the bars than leaving them, everyone coming and going having to muscle their way through the swaying clumps of half-hammered smokers standing directly outside the entrances."

Billy Graves is a Manhattan Night Watch sergeant. He and a small band of misfit detectives tend to the city's crime in the wee hours. It's not glorious, but on a good shift, Graves makes it home in time to take his two young sons to school. Billy Graves doubts he'll be making that school run the morning after St. Patrick's Day, however, when he's called to Penn Station at four a.m.

The blood-streaked tableau is a cop's nightmare. Drunk revelers traveling home on the trains have repeatedly trampled through the crime scene where a young man was stabbed to death. "It looked to Billy as if the guy had been trying to jump the turnstile, bled out mid-vault, then froze like that, dying in midair before dropping like a rock."

The real sucker punch sneaks in when Billy recognizes the victim, Jeffrey Bannion--a haunting memory from his days as a member of the South Bronx anti-crime unit Wild Geese. His life was forever altered as a WG when he inadvertently killed a young boy. While Billy doesn't know it yet, the reemergence of Bannion means it's about to be razed once again.

With The Whites, Richard Price (Lush Life), writing as Harry Brandt, delves into the psychological conflict of his battered and scarred protagonist with a honed scalpel, cutting and prodding and poking, leaving cop and reader painfully uncomfortable with ugly truths. Brandt's style is vivid and succinct, creating strong atmosphere that seamlessly melds with the plot. Cop corruption is an intractable theme, but wow did Brandt forge an extraordinary story with it.

The Whites is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9780805093995) from Henry Holt and Company. There is also an unabridged audiobook version (ISBN: 9781427213143), narrated by Bobby Cannavale from Macmillan Audio.


Coffee & a BookChick March 5, 2015 at 11:19 AM  

I love these settings... something about that age of old that draws me in. I'll make a note to check this one out.

Becca March 5, 2015 at 7:41 PM  

I was thinking this had something to do with hate crime or something from the title.

Malcolm Avenue Review March 6, 2015 at 7:08 PM  

Really anxious to get to this one, have been for a while now. I was going to try and go see Price tonight at Book Passage but, well, tired and it's not going to happen. But I had good intentions! Thanks for this review, Jen, pushing it up the list. And now I'm thinking I should just go and get a signed copy. Will she or won't she muster the gumption?!?!

jen_forbus March 10, 2015 at 9:22 PM  

Becca, there's a questionable shooting in the line of duty that occurs before the book opens and it's referred to so readers know how the protagonist ended up in his current position, but that's not the focus of the book. The Whites actually refers to a group name in the book that's not hate-crime related.

emaginette March 10, 2015 at 10:44 PM  

Love this type of book. On to the TBR pile it goes.

Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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