Two Trains Going to a Predictable Destination

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Title: The Whites

Rating: 3 Stars

I enjoyed Clockers and I heard a Richard Price interview on Fresh Air, so I thought that I’d give his latest, The Whites, a try. This is written under the pseudonym of Harry Brandt. In the interview he said that he adopted this pseudonym because he wanted to write in a different style and he didn’t want to disappoint his fans that were used to the Richard Price style. After writing and then later re-reading his Brandt novels, he realized that he really hadn’t changed his style. It was still Richard Price, regardless of the name on the cover, so he somewhat awkwardly abandoned the subterfuge.

To me, this book was a classic meh. It was well written. Parts of it were gripping. I was never bored or disappointed. It just all seemed to predictable, very much like oh so many similar works that I’ve read before.

There is a somewhat jaded but with still a reservoir of idealism cop (Billy Graves), who had a once promising career but after a couple of questionable decisions and career choices is now manning the graveyard shift. He and a group of officers were once the Young Turks of the force and were crime fighting mavens. One by one, they slowly fell off the hot shot path and are now in different careers. Each one of these officers had a White, a criminal that committed a horrible crime but for whom the officer was never able to bring to justice. Now, one by one, the Whites are being killed off. Graves is trying to discover the mystery behind these murders, and as he does, he must come to terms with his still existing idealism and his loyalties to his friends.

The second path is another cop (Milton Ramos). One of his brothers is murdered when Milton is growing up. The brother was accidentally murdered when a young teenage girl willfully points a couple of hitmen to the wrong apartment. Milton promises revenge, but it’s not until 20 years later that he encounters the girl, now a woman with children herself. He feels compelled to seek his revenge on her. This woman is Billy Graves wife.

The twin stories are told in alternating chapters.

It is, at times, a compelling read. However, in the big picture, if you had given me the outline of the plot, I could have predicted a significant percentage of the ending. There was a tad bit of suspense, but the plot was running along such well oiled tracks that I never really felt the jeopardy or the suspense that the novel was trying to build to. It was a good story, well told, in a very predictable way.

In other words, meh.

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