Let me start by saying that I'm a huge Richard Price fan. His earlier books--Bloodbrothers and The Breaks in particular--were epiphanies to me. For my money, Clockers is a contender for the Great American Novel. Technically, Lush Life is just as adroit--the snappy pacing, the spot-on descriptions, the breathtaking attention to detail, the surefire characterisations, all of which are Price specialities, are there, honed to stiletto sharpness. But while the plot would appear to offer plenty of opportunities for emotion--a 20-something man is murdered during an aborted hold-up, and in the course of the investigation we meet his mad-with-grief father--the overall effect is clinical rather than empathetic. That may be because none of the characters are really sympathetic; even the murdered man comes across as someone you'd avoid speaking to at a party for more than a few minutes. The result is a gripping read that keeps you flipping the pages so that you can absorb Price's dazzling word wizardry and learn the outcome of the investigation. Yet once you finish the book, the story and the characters, unlike those of Price's best books, are unlikely to remain with you.