After a lucrative television writing career comes to an abrupt end, ex high school teacher Ray Mitchell returns to the New Jersey city of his birth to rethink his life, reconnect with his teenage daughter and to spread the wealth on the housing project that reared him.
For more than two decades, in gaunt, endlessly alert prose, Price has embraced areas of the city, which have most novelists rolling up their car windows. Here Ray Mitchell, a New Jersey schoolteacher who has quit his job writing for a schmaltzy TV show and now tries to sell ghetto kids on the charms of creative writing, answers his door and gets his skull bashed in. Ray -- whether out of fear or shame -- refuses to say a word about what has happened to him, but, digging in his past, the investigating cop finds plenty to give her pause: a coke habit, a neglected daughter, and a recent affair with a drug dealer's wife. This is a crime in which the victim is the real mystery. Giving new meaning to the term "inner city," Price yields up not just the familiar, blanched moonscape of urban blight but the inner lives and jackhammering hearts of those who pace and patrol it.