Thursday, November 8, 2012

Freedomland by Richard Price (CBR-IV #44)

Cannonball Read IV: Book #44/52
Published: 1998
Pages: 736
Genre: Crime/Thriller

A friend recommended this book to me years ago, but I never got around to picking it up. I found it in a used book store a few weeks ago and decided to give it a try. 

The premise is pretty simple for such a long book: A white woman (Brenda) wanders into an emergency room with bloody hands saying that she was carjacked by a black man in a mostly black neighborhood. Then she tells the cops that her four-year-old son was in the back of the car. This sets off a long string of events that causes a huge racial conflict between the black neighborhood (Dempsey) and the neighboring white town (Gannon) that Brenda lives in (and her brother is a cop in). 

Lorenzo Council is the Dempsey cop that is working on her case. He starts a search for the little boy while trying to get more information out of a near comatose Brenda. Something about her is "off", but he can't quite figure out what it is.

I thought that Freedomland was a little long. Some parts when off on tangents that went for pages and pages. I mean we find out what happened to the little boy and there's still TWO HUNDRED more pages! I thought for sure that meant it was just a red herring, but nope. Just 200 more pages.  It definitely could have been condensed.

However, I did watch the movie they made based off the book that came out in 2006 with Julianne Moore and Samuel L. Jackson. It wasn't nearly as good. When the storyline was condensed like it was for the movie, it's very bland. You don't get the same feel for the characters and you don't get the creeping dread that builds up while reading the novel. So, in that sense I understand the length of the novel a little better. It seems slow at times WHILE you're reading, but after you finish you realize it was worth it.

Oh, and I never did get why the title is "Freedomland". The abandoned theme park they visit is called "Freedomtown". There is a passing reference to Freedomtown being based off a larger theme park in New York called Freedomland, but otherwise it is never mentioned nor visited (the book takes place in New Jersey). 

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