Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lush Life by Richard Price

I picked up Lush Life by Richard Price last week because it was the monthly selection for my public library's book club. It was the first time I had ever heard of Price, who is famous for writing Clockers, the screenplay The Color of Money, and for his work on the TV show The Wire.

This books is about the robbery and shooting in the Lower Eastside of New York City. We follow two detectives as they pursue one wrong lead that leaves them without any suspects for a couple of weeks. We see how it affects the police officers, the family of the victim, and the shooter.

It's not really a mystery novel because we know from the beginning who all of the players are, and you can pretty much guess who the shooter is from the background information Price gives us in the opening chapters of the book. The story is more about the characters and how cops work an investigation than about trying to figure out who did it. I'm a cop show junky though, so I really enjoyed this book. It was actually the first real "crime" novel I've ever read. I've read a lot of John Grisham's books, but I think of those as being more about lawyers than about cops. Does that make sense? Anyway, if you like Law & Order, I think you'd like this book. It was like reading the script of one of my favorite cops shows. Price does a wonderful job of creating the scene and making you understand where his characters are coming from.

There were mixed reviews at the book club meeting, with people being pretty divided over either loving it or hating it. I was obviously one of those who liked reading it. I felt like Price really knew his subject and did a wonderful job of creating memorable dialogue between his characters. I'm looking forward to reading Clockers next. The woman who runs the book club said she like it even better than Lush Life.

Also, on a side note, I know some of you worry about profanity in books. I didn't really notice it so much, but some of the women at the book club were really put off by the swearing in the book. I thought it helped to build credibility of the story. We're supposed to believe these are criminals talking, so I just don't think it would have been believable if they were replacing swear words with stand-ins like "freakin'" and what-not. Just thought I'd give you the heads up.

Oh, two last things: First, Richard Price will be here in Sacramento on March 12 at the Crest Theatre. I will definitely be there to author stalk him if anyone wants to join me. Secondly, I wanted to link you to The New York Times article about Lush Life from last year, in case you'd like a more in-depth look at the book.


cj said...


This may come as a surprise to people but cops swear.

A lot.

It helps relieve the stress and sometimes Oh, goodness just doesn't work...


Diane said...

This is oe book, I've been looking at for a while, but have not picked it up. Thanks for the review; it looks good.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I loved Clockers. Just adored it. Then I read Freedomland and ... not so much.

Chason said...

If you liked "Lush Life" you will really enjoy "The Wire." I think Price worked as a police officer in Baltimore, where "The Wire" is set.

Amanda said...

I do love a good "killin' 'em, finding who did it and makin' 'em be in jail" TV show.

The book version is like a slightly less guilty-feeling guilty pleasure! I mean, I can claim I'm doing all the work (reading actual words! so tough!) instead of just sitting there staring at the screen. Perfect!

Jenna Colaluca said...

If you enjoy stories like this one, there is a movie called Vantage Point that you might enjoy as well. It was released in 2008 and discusses an attempted assassination by 8 different witnesses.
I also agree with you that Grisham's books are more geared towards the legal viewpoints rather than the criminal act itself, but he's a brilliant writer and I also enjoy reading his work.

Becca said...

Jenna: Thanks for the suggestion. I love John Grisham too. I don't think there's a book out there by him that I haven't read.

CJ: Heh.