With an expulsion of dialogue so real that you want to touch it, Richard Price/Harry Brandt begins The Whites, a novel of crime, repentance, forgiveness and retribution. Two protagonists, Billy Graves, NYPD Night Watch sergeant, and Milton Ramos, a rogue cop from another NYPD department seeking revenge on Billy’s family, contain and demand your attention in this thrust and pull novel. Ramos is revenging the death of his brother and his intent to kill Billy and his family requiresBilly to seek help from his former 1990s crime squad, the Wild Geese, to keep himself, and his family alive.
While part of the hotshot pull ‘em in or kill them Wild Geese, young police officer Billy Graves shot a criminal in self defense. The bullet went through the man he shot and accidentally hit a 10 year old boy. In 1997, an ambitious reporter, Stacey Taylor, headlined the story in The New York Post, headlining the article that Graves was coked up at the time. Stacey did not run her informants and they turned out bogus. Billy Graves was exonerated, but Billy knows that Stacey Taylor was right. He was coked up at the time, and his squad, the Wild Geese, covered for him. But the damage had been done, and Billy went from one desk job to another, finally ending up at the Night Watch, the midnight to 7 am shift, the loser shift in the NYPD. Stacey Taylor was fired, and lost her one chance as a hot shot reporter, and her life has only gone south since. Billy uses her as a source for information, both out of his own guilt and to squelch Stacey’s guilt.
The members of the Wild Geese are still Billy’s best friends – and his family. The five that are left, once young cops three years out of the Academy, consist of Billy, John Pavlicek, Jimmy Whelan, Yasmeen Assaf-Doyle, and Redman Brown. And they all had one Achilles heel, one criminal they never put down. Pavlicek seeks Jeffrey Bannion, Whelan pursues Brian Tomassi, Redman’s hot to find SweetPea Harris, and Yasmeen tracks Eric Cortez. Billy’s chase is Curtis Taft, who killed three women in one night. All five have nightmares about the criminal that got away. And all five are still trying to find their criminals.
When Billy gets a Night Watch night run to Grand Central Station, it is to see Jeffrey Bannion’s corpse, bled out from a knife wound. And there are no witnesses. As he pursues the murder, he discovers secrets and threats facing his former squad, the Wild Geese. And what he discovers threatens everything he believes and loves.
Simultaneously, someone begins to stalk his family: Carmen, his wife and his two young children, Declan and Carlos, and Billy’s famous ex-cop father who now has Alzheimer’s and lives with the family. As the drama revs up, so does the novel, and with genius and a brilliance beyond compare, Price/Brandt intertwines all the players with a dialogue so sharp and taut that no acrobat could walk it.
The ending thrusts and jabs into superlative. The Whites performs like an Indie car, high performance, fuel injected, and with a fierceness and empathy that creates its own maelstrom. A one in a million novel, The Whites has to be the best crime novel of the year. If you miss this one, quit your Murder Mystery Book Club!
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A”
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own
The Whites: A Novelis available on Amazon.com as well as booksellers nationwide.