A novelist who’s mastered the art of colorful dialogue and vivid descriptions of the inner city, Richard Price (his works include books such as Clockers, screenplays like Ransom, and his work on HBO’s The Wire) returns with Lush Life . In this latest effort, Price leaves his fictional Jersey trademark behind and sets his keen eye on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Here he creates a richly detailed milieu of sights, smells, and sounds as he weaves multiple storylines in a novel that can’t be defined by one label. Lush Life is part police procedural, part mystery, all wrapped inside urban-noir. It has that gritty, powerful dialogue and fine attention to small details that Price fans have to come to expect and love.
The story revolves around an attempted mugging gone awry. Struggling actor/writer Eric Cash is walking around with bartender Ike Marcus and an extremely intoxicated Steve Boulware. They are confronted by two crooks, and instead of handing over what they have, Ike decides to stand up for himself. The end result is not good, and Ike gets shot. Detectives Matty Clark and Yolanda Bello enter the fray (the story follows their efforts for a good portion of the story). Eric is quickly scooped up as the prime suspect, and he gets a very thorough interrogation from the detectives. But about halfway through the story, it becomes apparent that the story is less about the robbery itself than the aftermath, repercussions, and fallout of the participants and families involved.
Narrator Bobby Canavale (Thirdwatch) does a superb job of capturing all the nuances of the dialogue - the foreign accents, the gritty street slang, and the overall New Yorker rhythm and vibe. The audio production values are fantastic, the sound crisp and clear, making for a very pleasurable listening experience. Overall, Lush Life is engaging for those used to Price’s style. For the uninitiated, the slang, cop-speak and pacing might be a hard thing to latch on to.