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The Whites by Richard Price

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 12.18.19 AM.jpgThe Whites is a pretty good bit of crime fiction. Gritty cop/ex-cop drama, curiously propelled by the actions of one of the characters many years before. Perhaps too many characters for me to cope with. Plenty of detail. Several murders. This was a “notable book of the year” (2015) according to The New York Times Book Review. Well, maybe that was a little generous. If you’re looking for a meaty crime novel, though, this one is well worth reading, even if a wee bit predictable. I don’t think predictability is always such a big deal in this genre.

This book was written by Richard Price. Apparently it was initially sold as a book by Harry Brandt, but that was quickly changed to “Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt”. The copy I have just says Richard Price. It’s all too confusing. It got me thinking though, of how many books might actually be written under pseudonyms? I recall as a kid reading the Hardy Boys books, naively thinking they really were written by Franklin W. Dixon (sorry kids, they weren’t). At risk of getting all conspiracy theory on you, I wonder if the Harry Potter books were really written by someone named J.K. Rowling? (I know, I know, I’m just talking through my hat).

These days it’s become increasingly difficult to separate reality from marketing in any case. I remember reading or perhaps hearing on a radio program something about a Canadian pop star who is also billed as a song-writer. This program or article or whatever it was, suggested that the record company hired a song-smith to “work with” the star. The song-smith allegedly did almost all of the work, with a bit of input from the star, but the song was credited to both of them, all the better to market it. True or false, who knows. I’m not out to slag anybody here, just making the point that what seems real is sometimes just another way to sell product. Branding is very complex and often deceptive business, intentionally or otherwise.

Back to The Whites – if you like this kind of hard-boiled crime fiction, in which  you learn a lot about the history of the characters in a book which weaves a complicated plot, you should enjoy this one. I  wouldn’t want a steady diet of this stuff, but it’s a fun treat from time to time.

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