We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.


Richard Price is the author of numerous captivating urban morality tales—including cult fave The Wanderers and, more recently, the brilliant Clockers and the real-as-the-evening-news Freedomland. He is a realist who eschews postmodern mumbo-jumbo and metatextual pyrotechnics to paint Dickensian portraits of life in America’s benighted inner cities. A Sinclair Lewis of Mean Street, Price has no equal when it comes to writing novels that not only stand as Literature-with-a-capital-L but also function as mysteries of the first order. Price’s world is one of lawless housing projects where children peddle drugs, liberal pieties are as out of place as trickle-down economics, and the price of doing the right thing is prohibitive. He has a genius for creating complex characters who leap right off the page (nobody who’s read Clockers will soon forget Strike, the Vanilla Yoo-hoo swigging crack peddler) but this time he’s outdone himself. In Price’s latest, Samaritan, Ray Mitchell is a crack-addict-turned-successful-TV-writer who returns to his old New Jersey neighborhood to teach high-school creative writing. Instead of finding any moral fulfillment, Mitchell becomes the victim of a savage assault, and it falls to police detective Nerese Ammons to unravel Mitchell’s past and identify his attacker. If that sounds like your standard premise for a thriller, believe me when I tell you that Richard Price is to Richard Patterson as Muhammad Ali was to Leon Spinks. Get knocked out at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free. (202) 347-3686. (Michael Little)