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Clockers Paperback – July 3, 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With consistent authority, Price explores the gritty underside of a New Jersey housing project in this four-week PW bestseller.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

Price (The Breaks, 1982, etc.) has spent the past ten years writing for Hollywood (Sea of Love, etc.)--but you wouldn't know it from the dense textures and supple dramatics of this epic slice of urban grit about frazzled drug-dealers and burnt-out cops. Of the many impeccably authentic urban types here, Price focuses on two: 20-ish ``Strike'' Dunham, black chief of a crew of crack-dealers (``clockers'') in the dead-end burg of Dempsy, N.J., and 43-year-old white Dempsy homicide cop Rocco Klein. Each is suffering an identity crisis when a murder puts them on a collision course. Strike, in a constant panic from dealing with his homicidal boss, crack-kingpin Rodney Little, is considering changing jobs; Rocco, six months from retirement, is thinking that his life is a big zero--a nullity underlined by his humiliating antics to curry the favor of a film star who might portray him in a movie. Then someone guns down another of Little's henchmen, and--shocking both Strike and Rocco--Strike's solid-citizen older brother, Victor, confesses to the killing: ``self-defense,'' he claims. Not so, thinks Rocco, who decides that Victor is covering for Strike and starts harassing the young dealer by framing him as a stoolie- -certain death at Little's hands. Meanwhile, myriad subplots vivify Strike's and Rocco's worlds: Rocco initiates the film star into the horrors of jail-life; Strike apprentices a young boy into dealing; Rocco's baby girl disappears; Little's legendary hit man wastes away from AIDS; Strike nearly dies from a bleeding ulcer. Finally, Strike, with a vengeful Little literally steps behind, turns to Rocco for help--a move that allows both to find a kind of hope and renewal. A vital and bold novel rich in unexpected pleasure, with Price generally avoiding melodrama, sentimentality, and stereotype to portray a harsh world with cleareyed compassion. (Film rights sold- -for a highly touted $1.9 million, including Price's screenplay.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPB; 1st Perennial ed edition (July 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060934980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060934989
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,239,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Clockers is a murder mystery, complete with suspense and a twist ending, cloaked in an unconventional, raw street setting. The novel possesses more street-smarts than any other book I've read, fiction or not. The dialogue, internally (i.e., in the characters' own heads) and externally, was tough and vibrant, and employed street vernacular which rang credible without sounding clichéd. Many authors tell tales of drug dealers and ghetto crimes, but rare is the account from a drug-dealer's point of view. A troubled, intelligent, calculating drug-dealer, no less, who considers the repercussions of his every move.
All of Clockers' characters were realistically flawed, able to invoke both sympathy and disgust. Strike, the ulcer-stricken dealer, was in constant turmoil as he struggled between trying to earn enough from his illicit trade to get out of it, and attempting to help others avoid being dragged into the same web. Rocco, the homicide detective and delinquent family-man, had a love-hate relationship with his work, and sought a mission through which to justify his continued involvement in the force. Victor (Strike's brother) was an honest, hard working black man who had risen above the allure of the street life around him, but wrestled with his own demons and internal sense of justice. Everyone's paths met with the murder of a lesser character, at which point the cat and mouse game was afoot.
Lesser, but no less interesting plot lines abound: Strike's education of his would-be apprentice, Tyrone; Strike's efforts to free himself from an unhealthily dependent relationship with drug kingpin Rodney; and Rocco's schoolboy interest in being shadowed by a cocksure filmmaker with an interest in a police picture.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Richard Price has an ear for street dialogue and he knows how to give his characters depth and dimension. As much as I loved Price's "Freedomland", this book is an even greater accomplishment.
There are no one-dimensional characters here. Everyone is real. Strike, the clocker, deals drugs and damages the life of a young boy. Yet there is goodness, awareness and a glimmer of hope inside him. Sometimes we hate him, sometimes we pity him, sometimes we admire him. Rocco the homicide cop is equally vivid, a hero in some ways, a tragic figure in others. These are people we care about because they're so full and real. Even Rodney, Strike's boss, a badass dude for sure, dispenses some truths and solid advice when he's recruiting clockers in lockup.
As deep as the characterizations run, the book surprisingly evolves into a whodunit. By the time you realize this, you're so involved with the characters, you have a steep investment in how it all turns out. There were times I laughed out loud, there were times I cried, and there were times I had to put this book down and reflect on the poignant truths that reveal themselves to these people.
As a fan of crime fiction and police procedurals, this book stands apart from the genre. There is action, to be sure, but "Clockers" is a character study in a gritty environment, and you feel the threat and wear of imminent violence on every page. Yet you'll find some decency as well.
For an exciting and totally involving journey into the inner city and the world of cops and dealers, it doesn't get any better than this.
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Format: Paperback
This was my first reading of Price. I'm a reader who likes literary genre fiction and generally, I think it is hard to come by. Price is a master writer who creates the most vivid worlds I have read since James Lee Burke, and in fact, really gets more gritty than Burke. I think most of what I would say has been very well covered in other reviews. The one thing I would mention is the absolutely beautiful opposite but parallel characters Price offers here. Strike and Rocco are both lost souls, just in different environs; they are both looking for a reason to believe, to hope, and in their worlds that's a lot to ask. I also enjoyed the way Price picked up the pace for the last one hundred pages. My only complaint (and it's a minor one): for me, the book was longer than it needed to be. 400 pages, great. 500, maybe. But by six hundred I had heard about Strike's stomach and Rocco's insecurity a bit too much. Good stuff.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
One the wittiest, darkest, most complex murder mystery since L.A. Confidential (The book a Classic masterpiece, the movie nothing more than good entertainment) Rocco and Strike are perfect players for Richard Prices character study of cops and dealers, the good and the bad, the black and white and the brown who all seem to be misunderstanding eachother rather than truly listening to eachother. Price was able to get me so into the charcters complex persona and agendas that when he uncovers the answer to the mystery I realized that I had become as blind as Rocco firy detective and Strikes mentally confused and conflicted drug dealer. The Clockers are as deadly as they are sad and as angry as they are full of it. (That doesn't include Rodney, Buddha Hat, or Errol Barnes, who all have an evil and dangerous aura that, unlike most hoods, truly is dangerous.) The film was surprisingly faithful to the novel and its message, although I was dissapointed that they took out such charcters as Buddha Hat and Futon and Peanut and Champ and didn't focus on Thumper at all and waited till the end to bring out the rage and fury of Andre until the end of the movie. The book, though, is a classic example of urban tension and decay and depression and hopelessness and the good people who are taken down because of it. But also how an act of mercy can bring hope to the most hopeless clocker and the most burnt out detective.
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