by Richard Price (2004)
Man, Richard Price can write. Not only can he deliver the most believable dialogue and let us visualize his settings, but at times, you can feel what it’s like to actually be his characters… even if you’d rather not.
In Samaritan, our protagonist Ray Mitchell seems like some self-critical self portrait: a man who grew up in the projects, became a writer on a hit series, all while messing himself up with cocaine. Now he’s clean, he’s back living near his old neighborhood and he’s out to make good with the world.
Making good with the world, however, lands him in the hospital – the victim of a severe beating. A childhood friend, Nerese, now a barely respected police officer, makes it her final duty to solve the crime before retiring to Florida.
Only problem is, Ray won’t cooperate, and so the well crafted mystery that defines any great Price novel begins.
In lesser hands this tale of race, memories, mismatched love, and martyrdom could be preaching and false. With Price, it’s genius, only slowing when we spend a shade too much time with Ray’s pontifications.