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Ray Mitchell, a former TV writer who has left Hollywood under a cloud, returns to urban Dempsy, New Jersey, hoping to make a difference in the lives of his struggling neighbors. Instead, his very public and emotionally suspect generosity gets him beaten nearly to death. Ray refuses to name his assailant, which makes him intensely interesting to Detective Nerese Ammons, a friend from childhood, who now sets out to unlock the secret of his reticence. Set against the intensely realized backdrop of urban America, the cat and mouse game that unfolds is both morally complex and utterly gripping.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 02, 2002 – Nobody does urban grit better than Price or so it was said in the '90s upon the publication of Clockers and Freedomland. Price's first novel in four years doesn't belie that claim, but it isn't his best, despite some wonderful writing. Most impressive are the characters and not only the principals, Ray Mitchell, a white TV writer recently returned to his predominantly black home city of Dempsey, N.J., only to wind up in an ICU with a crushed skull, and Nerese Ammons, black, Ray's childhood friend, now a cop determined to find out who swung the vase that put Ray down. The supporting characters, too, are blazing with life, as is Price's rich evocation of Dempsey's blasted cityscape. It's the plotting that's relatively weak. The novel is woven of two chronological strands, one starting with Ray's time in the ICU and focusing on Nerese's investigation, the other beginning with Ray's arrival in Dempsey and emphasizing his troubled relationship with his alienated wife and daughter; with his new girlfriend from the projects, Danielle; and with himself for Ray is a self-loathing former cokehead whose desperate need for approval clouds his judgment time and again. The binary plotting is interesting, but a bit gimmicky and doesn't help the book's pace, and a narrative turn near the end involving Ray and his daughter feels contrived. Since Ray's need for approval prevents him from telling Nerese who conked him, the book is basically a whodunit. Few readers will guess the real culprit: is it Danielle's jealous jailbird husband? The erratic street artist Ray is supporting? Danielle? The questions will hold readers' interest but not seize it, and while many will enjoy as well as admire the novel, most won't be blown away by it. 150,000 first printing; simultaneous Random House Audio.
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  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Jan 07, 2003
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 400 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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