Richard Price : Lush Life : Book Review


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BOOK REVIEW: LUSH LIFE
BY RICHARD PRICE

We hope you enjoy this book review by Woodstock.

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An undercover police car, disguised as a delapitated taxi, cruises New York's lower east side in repetitive circles, around one block, then another, then a third, and eventually back to the beginning again to start the dull cycle one more time. These opening paragraphs provide a pattern for the action which follows as detectives investigate a mugging and fatal shooting on one of the streets in the area.

Over and over again, the same questions are asked, the same persons questioned and released, the same roadblocks and dead ends encountered.

Two stricken fathers are at the center of the story. One grieving the loss of his only son and eldest child - dead because of a tragic miscalculation and a quick, careless remark. The other father watching his family from afar, learning little by little of his sons' foolish decisions. He will struggle, perhaps in vain, perhaps not, to help the grieving father understand the fragilty of family connections, and the true nature of responsibility to those one loves and is loved in return.

LUSH LIFE is not a story which grabs you by the throat and keeps you hooked from the first page. In contrast to many police procedurals in print and on television, the cops investigating this murder don't make much progress very quickly, nor indeed, do they make progress at all. In the early hours, their plans for forensic tests are blocked by layer upon layer of bureaucratic inertia, until finally they are left only with a numbingly repetitive search for the gun which was used in the mugging.

The real strength in LUSH LIFE is characterization. After a slow start, I found myself wondering who would do what next. The cops, their first suspect, the forlorn life of the mugger, the bereaved father, his distraught family, and dozens of other peripheral characters all are richly believable.

And although there isn't much humor in this grim tale, Price layers his story with a wry viewpoint which enriches his telling of many of the events, from the sighting of the Virgin Mary in a convenience store cooler, to a 21st century "memorial service", to the reproduction of a long vanished New York neighborhood in an Atlantic City casino.

It's more than worth the time to hang in there with this book!

REVIEWED BY WOODSTOCK

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, WOODSTOCK


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