Clockers – by Richard Price


Our Weekly Entertainment Dispatch

Hustling and murder in the projects

Clockers (1992) – by Richard Price

We are going back to a book this week for our Weekend Buff recommendation.  We haven’t done one in a while and don’t want your brains turning to mush with too much time in front of the boob tube. 

Clockers (1992) is a crime drama by author Richard Price.  Price grew up in a Bronx housing development (Edenwald I think) and brings his personal experiences to this book about hustling in the projects. 

The story takes place around a housing project in a fictional gritty North Jersey city (think Newark).  Ronald “Strike” Durham is a low-level crack dealer who is trying to make a name for himself and put some money in his pocket.  His boss, Rodney Little, needs a job done.  A murder within the organization. 

Strike doesn’t want to do it.  He is a bag of nerves as it is, the author showing some of the humanity of perps and the world they occupy.  Making up a false motive, Strike ropes his straight and narrow brother into the murder plot.  A body drops and detectives are on the case.  Detective Rocco Klein catches it and is piecing together interviews, confessions, and motives to try to get the real story.

Clockers sows the tale of a murder investigation, a drug organization, and a family into a thrilling narrative that hits home.  Richard Price hits the nail on the head with the inner workings of a crack business and a homicide case.  He clearly did his homework and molded his narrative with his real life experience. 

Price’s portrayal of the cops in this case is a good one.  They are not perfect, a lot of disparaging remarks, dark humor, and a few corners cut.  But Rocco Klein wants his homicide case solved and solved right.  Klein is tenacious and dedicated, ensuring that the right man gets collared, despite opportunities to close the case with an A-1 (arrest) that may not be legit. 

This book was a hit when released.  In 1995, Spike Lee made the book into a movie starring Harvey Keitel and Mekhi Phifer with that was pretty well received.  Lee changed up the story a bit and put it in Brooklyn (of course).  He didn’t translate the police characters into the NYPD org chart, so the movie seems a little off.  The book is deeper and better.  Clockers was allegedly the inspiration for HBO’s “The Wire” series that was a huge hit and ran for five years.   

You can pick up Clockers on Amazon for $8.  It’s a bit long, but an entertaining read.  If you remember the crack epidemic this book will bring back some memories.  They are still selling vials in this story before dealers got cheap. 

Enjoy the book and Stay Safe!


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