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Posted: October 25, 2020

Perhaps the best police procedural I have ever read

Book Review

By Derryll White

Price, Richard (2008).  Lush Life.

Richard Price is a social worker in a novelist’s clothing. It isn’t that he is a softy, god forbid – his dialogue can be a sledgehammer cracking societal foundations. He is, however, uncannily aware of the effects people have on each other. He imbues the toughest homicide detectives, people who have seen it all, with the tiniest flicker of humanity. And, as for the victims – he makes the reader weep.

‘Lush Life’ may be the best police procedural I have ever read. Richard Price takes the politics of the New York Police Department apart piece-by-piece, showing the incredible frustrations faced by working cops when dealing with career officers who manage crime instead of preventing or solving it.

This novel moves at a fast pace but it is easy to track the characters because Price develops them so thoroughly. They talk back, in the reader’s dreams. I will be looking for more Richard Price.

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Excerpts from the novel:

NEW YORK – At 5:30 a.m. Eric Cash rose stiffly from the back of the squad car and turned to face the Eighth Precinct station house, an octagonal Lindsay-era, siege-mentality fortress set down on razed lung-block acreage like a spiked fist aimed at the surrounding projects – Lemlich, Riis, Wald, Cahan, and Gompers – the rest of the neighborhood squat and dumpy and far east enough to be a world of pre-land-rush lasts; the last Hebrew old-age home, the last bullet proof liquor store, the last Chinese take-out hole in the wall, and the last live-poultry market, everything and everyone cast in permanent gloom beneath the massive stone arches of the Williamsburg Bridge.

MURDER – Although a few pure athletes of evil did exist out there, most murderers when he finally caught up to them, pretty much never met his expectations.  For the most part, they were a stupid and fantastically self-centered lot; rarely did they come across, at least on first impression, as capable of the biblical enormity of what they had done.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.


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