Wednesday, March 13, 2013

FREEDOMLAND by Richard Price

Brenda Martin, a white woman, walks into a hospital ER, bleeding and distraught.  She reports that a black man hijacked her car.  Then in her conversation with detective Lorenzo Council, she finally manages to whisper that her 4-year-old son Cody was asleep in the back seat.  Her story sounds very fishy to Lorenzo, and the sketch artist allows that, once again, the perp looks just like him.  Lorenzo makes every effort to get Brenda to open up.  Even though she seems constantly on the brink of making some sort of confession, he finally leaves her in the hands of Jesse, a female reporter, and Karen, the head of a group of volunteers who have made it their mission to find missing children.  Meanwhile, mostly-black Dempsey, NJ, where the crime allegedly took place, is having none of it.  Racial tension starts to rise when an all-out search effort gets underway, as the government housing residents counter that the police never go to such extremes to locate missing black children.  Lorenzo knows that they have a point but feels helpless to stop the powder keg from exploding.  I found this book to be a better-than-average mystery-thriller, with complicated characters in a very tense but all-too-believable situation.  The downside of this book is that it's rather long, and several sections, including the Karen-led search party canvassing, could benefit from some compression.  Brenda Martin is the character around which everything and everybody revolve, and I couldn't quite get a handle on why Lorenzo and Jesse were both so sympathetic to her.  She seemed a bit deranged to me.  Maybe they were both just doing their jobs, in which case, they were both exceptionally skilled in gaining Brenda's trust, but neither was quite psychologically savvy enough to quite break through.

1 comment:

spywife said...

Sounds interesting. Have to try it! Thanks.