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The celebrated author of Clockers delivers his most compelling and accomplished novel to date.
A white woman, her hands gashed and bloody, stumbles into an inner-city emergency room and announces that she has just been carjacked by a black man. But then comes the horrifying twist: Her young son was asleep in the back seat, and he has now disappeared into the night.
So begins Richard Price's electrifying new novel, a tale set on the same turf--Dempsey, New Jersey--as Clockers. Assigned to investigate the case of Brenda Martin's missing child is detective Lorenzo Council, a local son of the very housing project targeted as the scene of the crime. Under a white-hot media glare, Lorenzo launches an all-out search for the abducted boy, even as he quietly explores a different possibility: Does Brenda Martin know a lot more about her son's disappearance than she's admitting?
Right behind Lorenzo is Jesse Haus, an ambitious young reporter from the city's evening paper. Almost immediately, Jesse suspects Brenda of hiding something. Relentlessly, she works her way into the distraught mother's fragile world, befriending her even as she looks for the chance to break the biggest story of her career.
As the search for the alleged carjacker intensifies, so does the simmering racial tension between Dempsey and its mostly white neighbor, Gannon. And when the Gannon police arrest a black man from Dempsey and declare him a suspect, the animosity between the two cities threatens to boil over into violence. With the media swarming and the mood turning increasingly ugly, Lorenzo must take desperate measures to get to the bottom of Brenda Martin's story.
At once a suspenseful mystery and a brilliant portrait of two cities locked in a death-grip of explosive rage, Freedomland reveals the heart of the urban American experience--dislocated, furious, yearning--as never before. Richard Price has created a vibrant, gut-wrenching masterpiece whose images will remain long after the final, devastating pages.
now, was for everyone to make it back home intact. The procession was six blocks deep into downtown, still getting no reaction. Some of the marchers began to fall out of their ranks, just wandering a bit into the security lanes, the JNL ushers, sour-faced now, nudging them back into formation. “WHOSE STREETS” “OUR STREETS.” No, their streets, Lorenzo thought, overhearing the two motorcycle cops nearest him discuss Aruba, time shares. The Emergency Services Unit truck had developed a bit of
home—seemingly everybody—Danny and his mother bringing up the rear, the guests offering up mottled and stony faces, no one crying, not one tear but plenty of rage. Puzzled, Jesse checked her watch, confirming that there was still an hour left for the wake. Taking an educated guess about what was happening, she quietly circled around to the rear of the home, where the mortuary wagons made their deliveries, hoisted herself up on a concrete abutment that lay in tree shadow, and waited. To occupy
them—who was legally blind, who was hard of hearing, who knew more shit from sitting in that row of geriatric box frames than the CIA. Lorenzo wasn’t planning to share any of that with the Gannon detectives. Directly above their heads, at the top of the Conrail wall, a powerful light jerked erratically, up, down, then laterally. Lorenzo returned to the middle of Hurley, looking up and seeing that first video commando, the passenger from the white van, the Betacam held upside down between his
overmascaraed, fine-boned young woman sitting on the aisle and scowling at her nails, reminding him, as she always did, of a race car stuck in traffic—crossed legs pumping, untended notepad bobbing in her lap, a nervous flicker in the eye, as if some of that mascara had gotten under the lid. A few months earlier, she had spent some time with Lorenzo, writing a profile of him for the Register that had landed him on the Rolonda Watts program. Now, absorbing her oddly vacant yet alert expression,
doing the same with Rafik, but that flip Uncle Tom put-down was like an ingrown eyelash. He was used to white cops occasionally accusing him, mostly indirectly of being black first—that was no big deal. But nothing pissed him off more than having his sense of self challenged by someone in the black community no matter how off the wall or what segment of the political spectrum the charge came from. Uncle Tom… He took a shower, put on clean shorts, and moved into his old bedroom. The posters of