The Whites by Richard Price/Harry Brandt is (direct from the frontflap) “The electrifying tale of a New York City police detective under siege – by an unsolved murder, by his own dark past, and by a violent stalker seeking revenge.” In other words, The Whites is a book that I would never pick up on my own, but since it is a contender in the Tournament of Books, I ventured outside my reading comfort zone. I struggled thru the first half of the book, in part because I really didn’t want to go down the very dark alleyways where I feared the book was heading, but by the mid-way point I was invested enough in the story that I genuinely wanted to see how it all would resolve.
Contrary to the impression given by the black and white cover and the title, the book has no racial overtones. A group of young detectives who called themselves the Wild Geese became fast friends working together in an anti-crime unit. Twenty-ish years later, Billy Graves is the only one who is still on the force. Each of them, however, is haunted (for lack of a better word) by an unsolved murder case that they worked on back in the day. In each case, the murderer was identified, but could never be brought to justice. These suspects are “the whites,” for the great white whale that alluded Captain Ahab in Moby Dick.
There are no black and white good guys in this book, just a lot of different shades of gray. There are lots of characters, but really it’s all about the plot. There isn’t much of a mystery, but there’s plenty of crime drama. The Whites would probably make a good movie or even the basis for yet another police TV series, but I probably wouldn’t be interested in watching.
Obviously, I don’t think this novel should go far in the ToB, but I’ll still be interested to read the judge’s decision and all the comments. This book got a lot of rave reviews as the best crime novel of the year. Don’t judge this one by the cover or by my review.