Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Guest Review: The Whites

Summary: Back in the 1990s, when Billy Graves worked in the South Bronx as part of an anti-crime unit known as the Wild Geese, he made headlines by accidentally shooting a ten-year-old boy while stopping an angel-dusted berserker in the street. Branded as a cowboy, Billy spent years in one dead-end posting after another. Now in his early forties, he is a sergeant in Manhattan Night Watch, a team of detectives that responds to all felonies from Wall Street to Harlem between one a.m. and eight a.m.

Billy’s work is mostly routine, but when Night Watch is called to the four a.m. fatal slashing of a man in Penn Station, his investigation moves beyond the usual handoff to the day shift. And when he discovers that the victim was once a suspect in an unsolved murder—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. -- Picador

Booking Pap Pap is spending the winter in Florida and he's managing to get a little reading done. One book that he recently read has been out for a few years, but it sounds like it was worth the wait.  It's called THE WHITES by Richard Price; and it has won lots of awards including an NPR Best Book of the Year, a New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year, a Washington Post Best Books of the Year, an Best Books of the Year, and an L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist. It sounds like Booking Pap Pap agrees. Here are his thoughts:

THE WHITES is an entertaining story about police work in New York City. Story begins when lead character Sergeant Billy Graham is sent to investigate a slasher case at Penn Station. Graham runs the night watch, a shift that runs from midnight to 8 am. He typically files his paperwork and turns the cases over to the daylight shift, never to be involved again.

But this case is different. Billy recognizes the victim from his days as a member of the Wild Geese in the mid-1990s before he accidentally killed a young boy and sent his career into a downward spiral. The Wild Geese was a self proclaimed name for seven young, bold cops serving in the South Bronx. The victim was Jeffrey Bannon, a criminal referred to as a White by the Wild Geese. They define a White as one who committed a major crime on their watch and never faced justice. It seems each member is haunted by a personnel White even in retirement. The case spurs Graves to renew contact with the 4 remaining Wild Geese, all retired and active in other occupations. When other Whites begin to perish, Graves begin thinking about the possibility of vigilante justice and is torn as to what to do about it.

The author presents a second narrative that pits Detective Milton Ramos against Graves. They don't know each other but Ramos poses a threat to Graves' family over an incident with his wife many years ago. The storyline builds as Ramos starts playing subtle games with various family members and gradually increases the pressure until he and Graves end up in a confrontation. Author Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt blends the two storylines nicely by using alternating chapters to bring both narratives along simultaneously. The reader gets a good understanding of the pressures building in Graves.

 THE WHITES is a very realistic depiction of the work of policemen. The reader is confronted with the reality that the police work in a very ugly world, and it's not unrealistic to assume some of that ugliness remains with the police. In addition to the police drama, the author utilizes great dialog, good character development, surprises, and some humor to deliver a very entertaining story.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel and to Booking Pap Pap for his review.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I never tire of stories like this but couldn't read them all the time, if that makes sense. This sounds like it won those awards for good reason.