The Whites by Richard Price
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
FINALIST FOR THE L.A. TIMES BOOK PRIZE 2015 IN THE MYSTERY/THRILLER CATEGORY
Every cop has a personal ‘White’: a criminal who got away with murder – or worse – and was able to slip back into life, leaving the victim’s family still seeking justice, the cop plagued by guilt.
Back in the 1990s, Billy Graves was one of the Wild Geese: a tight-knit crew of young mavericks, fresh to police work and hungry for justice, looking out for each other and their ‘family’ of neighbourhood locals. But then Billy made some bad headlines by accidentally shooting a ten-year-old boy while bringing down an angel-dusted berserker in the street. Branded a loose cannon, he spent years in one dead-end posting after another. Now he has settled into his role as sergeant in the Night Watch, content simply to do his job and go home to his family. But when he is called to the 4 a.m. stabbing of a man in Penn Station, Billy discovers the victim is the ‘White’ of one of his oldest friends, a former member of the Wild Geese, who is now retired. As the past comes crashing into the present, the Wild Geese seemingly rise from the dead, and the bad old run-and-gun days of the 90s are back with a vengeance.
This novel is complex and multifaceted, the characterisation has exceptional depth and all the back stories of the individual police officers, adds and adds to the plot. It is without a doubt iconic and memorable! One I am sure I will not forget in a long time!
The novel opens on the night shift of St Patricks day in New York City. Where the hours of 3am-5am are described as the “ugliest and most violent” with bars and clubs emptying and the drunk patrons flood the streets. Sgt Billy Graves is in charge of the night shift, with his mixed team of fellow officers. They are called to a crime scene at Penn station however, this murder victim isn’t just any murder victim………
Jeffrey Bannion is what the police call a ‘white’, someone whom evaded justice for his previous crimes. Every cop has one, the one that got away! Bannion is the ‘white’ of Sgt Graves previous fellow officers. It is believed Bannion had links to the violent murder of a 12yr old boy!
At this point in the novel, we are transported back to Sgt Graves old team from the 90’s. The ‘wild geese’ originally a crew of 7, with one dead and one moved on, that just leaves 5 including Sgt Graves. The team comprised of John Pavlicek, Jimmy Whelan, Yasmeen Assaf-Doyle, Redman Brown and Billy. Each having their own ‘white’. Bannion was Pavlicek’s white! The novel continues to reel off the team’s ‘whites’ and the crimes they were involved in. It makes for eye opening reading about the justice system and despite the incredible work of the police officers, some criminals slip through the net.
As stated before the characters have lengthy back stories, which really adds to the drama, tension and overall plot! There is the added intrigue from Detective Milton Ramos, who immediately presents as a vigilante cop! But is he? What does he seek vengeance for? How does he fit into the police officers lives? When the bodies of the former teams ‘whites’ begin to pile up, who is picking off the ‘whites’ one by one? And why? Who can you trust?
An exceptional novel in terms of iconic characters, writing and a very well thought out and delivered plot! 4*