It took me awhile to warm up to Richard Price, and I finally saw his talent when I read Clockers last year. It was a simple, yet epic tale of inner city life viewed as if it were a hell filled with demons and lost souls. It had moments of crushing defeat and vague hope, but it was always interesting and I was always eager to find out the mystery at the heart of the book. In his most recent, if you can call the year 2008 recent, deals with a similar situation as that novel. But it really is a melding of the themes of Price’s two most famous novels, the aforementioned Clockers and 1998’s Freedomland. It takes the hearts of those two books, the way crime affects the victims and perpetrators after the fact as shown in Clockers, and the way the media can skew a murder story, making villains and heroes where there are none. The crime is simple and has been seen many times before: a white, bohemian man is shot and killed by a black gang member after failed stick-up during a night of drinking. The details of the crime become convoluted in the interrogation room, where a witness refuses to give information, accidently implicating himself in the crime, at least in the public’s eye. Where Price shines is in the little moments, where Matty, the lead detective, comforts the father of murdered victim after a harrowing scene in the county morgue. What Price has trouble with is making characters real. Despite how cool they talk, they never seem like any thing more than one-dimensional, leaving the emotional resonance of the book a bit ambiguous. But this is still a solid crime novel that touches on deep, troubling issues of modern life, and proof that Price has his eye on something special.