STARRED REVIEW
February 17, 2015

On the heels of a ghost

By Harry Brandt & Richard Price
Review by

The great Richard Price (Clockers, Lush Life) dons a new literary persona as Harry Brandt for this crackling thriller. Haunted NYPD Detective Billy Graves' very name suggests not only his bleak working hours but also a death that landed him on the, well, graveyard shift.

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The great Richard Price (Clockers, Lush Life) dons a new literary persona as Harry Brandt for this crackling thriller. Haunted NYPD Detective Billy Graves' very name suggests not only his bleak working hours but also a death that landed him on the, well, graveyard shift. Det. Graves is a second-generation cop and had been a rising star until a mishap killed an innocent bystander, leaving Graves with a ghost—a crook that got away.

Several of Graves’ equally dysfunctional co-workers are similarly haunted by these “whites,” bad guys “who had committed criminal obscenities . . . then walked away untouched by justice.” To call these cops flawed would be like describing the Grand Canyon as a mere hole in the ground, but they are also dedicated. Perhaps too much so, as Graves begins connecting the dots when his “white” turns up dead.

The Whites is ultimately not quite as intricate or poetic (or long) as Price’s best work. It is a great read nonetheless, laugh-out-loud funny at times, whether the source of the humor is grim, mundane or—in the case of a handcuffed lawnmower—downright absurd. Price’s best passages are rooted in his peerless urban realism, though he also has lots of fun letting the plot drift away from the realm of strict plausibility. None of this makes The Whites any less entertaining, nor should this obscure genuinely emotional elements of the story, including Graves’ shaky but loving marriage and a touching mystery involving a hematologist.

So long as your tolerance for NYPD lingo (“One PP,” anybody?) is high, and your patience for cops who bend (or obliterate) the rules even higher, The Whites is (either) an impressive debut or a high-octane addition to the already-impressive Price oeuvre.

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The Whites

The Whites

By Harry Brandt & Richard Price
Holt
ISBN 9780805093995

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