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4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  6,957 Ratings  ·  455 Reviews

Novelist and Academy Award–nominated screenwriter Richard Price's bestselling second novel offers "an unforgettable picture of inner-city decay and despair" (USA Today)

At once an intense mystery and a revealing study of two men, a veteran homicide detective and an innercity crack dealer, on opposite sides of an endless war. Clockers is "powerful . . . harrowing . . . rem

Paperback, 608 pages
Published April 21st 2003 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published January 1st 1992)
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Dan Schwent
Aug 05, 2014 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
A drug dealer is gunned down in a diner and the brother of another drug dealer is the prime suspect. Did he do it? That's what Rocco Klein wants to find out. But can he get the suspect's brother, a crack dealer named Strike, to cooperate?

This is the fourteenth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.

Like most people who have read this in recent years, I lov
Paul Bryant
Detective Klein and Detective Mazilli are discussing the suspect they've just brought in. He's an author who's accused of recklessly wasting readers' time. That's something that'll get you 3 to 5 in New Jersey and up to 10 in New York where they take reading more seriously. The suspect is an oldish Jewish guy who's currently in the interrogation room looking bored. The charges relate to three long novels published between 1992 and 2008, Clockers, Freedomland, and Lush Life. Together these add up ...more
Sep 10, 2008 Adam rated it it was amazing
Like Dostoevsky meets Tupac and it's pretty awesome for it. An amazingly complex and l-o-n-g tale of half-flawed people negotiating the pretty bleak world of the north Jersey projects. Every time I thought one of the characters was stooping to stereotype, Price introduced another layer of ambiguity that made much of said characterization ring true. Best of all, the story is so long that no detail is extraneous; the author had time to make everything more or less add up to something. Even Strike' ...more
Jan 14, 2016 Leftbanker rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favorite books of the 1990s. The burned-out cop character was a bit of a cliché, but the setting of the novel in a post-apocalyptic New Jersey housing project was the work of inspired journalism. Price had a lot of great insights in this work that could only have been the result of going out and being a witness to the world he was describing. As the great novelist once said, "You can't make this shit up."

I’m sure this novel is completely ignored in college classrooms because p
Richard Vialet


Clockers tracks the parallel stories of two men on different sides of the drug game (one a young, mid-level, crack dealer, the other a homicide cop), revolving around a murder in Price's fictional New Jersey city of Dempsey. The engaging characterizations of these two men are what truly make this novel shine. From the dealer Strike (with his paranoia, orderliness, and his frustration with both his lower-level dealers and his perforated ulcer), to Detective Rocco (with his jaded outlook
Ned Mozier
Mar 31, 2016 Ned Mozier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extraordinary. The story of a uniquely talented, scrupulously clean and intelligent teen-aged dope peddler in the projects, in some city in the north east. Spike sits on the benches with a bleeding ulcer, tolerating the daily inconveniences of thuggish cops and pondering his future. He is totally alone, caught between the urge to be upwardly mobile in the ultimately fatal drug trade, tutored by a hardened old (30 something) psychopath who runs an unending number of scams. This is a how-to about ...more
Clockers - the term refers to the low-level, 24-hour drug slingers staked outside the projects - was written in 1992, and takes place before then. Which is why it took me so long to figure out why the characters referred to the cops as "Furies." It's because the police drove Plymouth Furies. Natch.

My disorientation has a point: this is a book that takes place in a world that most members have never been to. It's set in the fictional town of Dempsey, but is as real and bleak a look
Mar 01, 2009 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Reading Clockers was a lot like watching The Wire, and that's a good thing. As I said in my comment when I started reading this book, I'm happy I never read this before now, and that I had never seen the movie adaptation, which I'm sure is quite good, but which would have ruined some of the book. Not having anymore episodes of The Wire reading this was a nice way for a bookish and non-street white boy to return to the world of slinging drugs in the projects, and go 'slumming' so to speak amongst ...more
Patrice Hoffman
This is the first Richard Price novel I've read. I've never seen The Wire, nor have I watched the Spike Lee adaptation of this book. Many of the reviews I've read are by people who watched The Wire and were enamored with it. My opinion is as unbiased as it gets.

The book is pretty interesting and really gripping. It's a peek into the gritty and sad world of early 90s New Jersey projects. It's giving a fair view of both sides of the world Strike and Rocco live in. Rocco and Strike are on opposing
Maya Rock
Jul 04, 2007 Maya Rock rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alltimefavorites
God, I love this book. Everything about it is perfect--you love everyone but no one is flawless. This is one of the best books I've ever read. I think the subject matter may lead a lot of people to think it's not their cup of tea (drugs and violence), but it's really good and esp fun if you know the Jersey City area.
Aug 26, 2014 RandomAnthony rated it really liked it
So apparently Clockers, published in the early 90s, is a spiritual ancestor of The Wire. That makes sense. Reading Clockers is similar to watching that series; the reader switches from the perspective of the police to the dealers and back again. Scenes linger around the public housing courtyards and homicide investigator’s home lives. Clockers also, like The Wire, carries a Shakespearean dread to the (long) novel’s end. I read all 600 pages in a little over a week and the fact I didn’t get bored ...more
One of the great novels of the late 20th century. Comparisons to Steinbeck, Dostoevsky, and Dickens are not superfluous. Is there characters you would rather jump of cliffs with than Strike and Rocco? Is there a character more corrupt, evil and utterly human than Rodney Little? Dismal human tragedy brought to high art that manages to give us an ability to discuss it with out cheapening the tragedy and making it palatable. The Wire is the real adaptation of this, skip the movie.
Suzanne Arcand
Apr 15, 2015 Suzanne Arcand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Sometimes I wonder why I keep reading mysteries. Most of them are formulaic and the endings are often disappointing. Either predictable or improbable. Then comes along a book that is not just a good mystery but a great book. “Clokers” is such a book.

The author Richard Price wrote for the HBO series “The Wire” – the best series of all time - and, at first, I thought that this book was very similar to the series. We have young underprivileged black men – kids really – selling drugs – the clokers -
If I could, I'd rate Clockers a solid 3.5 stars. I really enjoyed the Spike Lee film of the mid-nineties, and the combination of the recent hype surrounding Price's new novel, Lush Life, and his award-winning writing for The Wire, finally boosted this classic crime-drama to the top of my reading list. Clockers succeeds in vividly capturing a certain socio-political zeitgeist of the late-1980s and early 1990s, when continuously splashed across the New York City tabloids were lurid accounts of the ...more
Oct 29, 2008 Trip rated it really liked it
"The Wire - in convenient book form" has been my pithy description of Clockers.

To expand upon that, it's a character study that does nothing to dispel the popular image of the homicide detective (a world-weary skeptic, partly corrupt, slightly alcoholic, alternately caring too much and too little), but does much to explain how he got that way. Same song, different verse for the low level captain of a drug crew.

Great dialogue, incredible detail, mostly-good pacing. Some of the symbolism is overw
Dec 21, 2007 Naeem rated it it was amazing
Price is a careful thinker and writer. He is really an ethnologist of the urban. The show the Wire is based on this book. Bonfire of the Vanities is not half the book that Clockers is -- style be damned.

There is a chapter on heroin addicts who live in a condemned building and who take out and sell the copper tubing in order to get there fix. This chapter is as poetic, as generous, as painful as anything I have read. It would make Charles Dickens envious.
Clockers by Richard Price is less a police procedural than an examination of the lives of two very different men whose lives intersect through death. I enjoyed his latest novel, The Whites, more than this one but the story is complex and the novel is very well-written. The dialogue is particularly well-crafted.

Rocco is a homicide detective in Dempsy, New Jersey, contemplating retirement and Strike is a nineteen year old “clocker” who works the steps of the Dempsy housing project where his mothe
Nov 21, 2009 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Dempsey burnin'."

As in The Wire, in Clockers Richard Price explores the front line in the War on Drugs through two infantrymen on opposite sides of the conflict. There's Rocco Klein, homicide investigator, and Strike, lieutenant on the rise in the Dempsey projects. The late-night murder of a fast-food restaurant manager forces Rocco and Strike's paths to collide. Each is trapped, clocking on his side of the line. Clockers makes it clear that this is an unwinnable, endless war. If one man gets o
Jeannie Walker
Dec 03, 2012 Jeannie Walker rated it it was amazing
Clockers is a heavy and intense story. On one hand you have Rocco Klein, a veteran homicide detective, and on the other hand, you have Strike Dunham, a crack dealer, with his own crew as well as a bleeding ulcer. Each man is in turmoil from the way they have lived their lives.
Strike works hard to earn enough to finally stop being a drug dealer, and does all he can to help avoid falling into the same trap. He always told his crew, "Don't let the girls wrap you around their little fingers."
Rocco i
Sean Owen
Jan 21, 2016 Sean Owen rated it really liked it
"Clockers" was my first exposure to Richard Price's books. I had tried to watch "The Wire" but found it terrifically boring. "Clockers" proved to be everything "The Wire" was promised to be, gritty, realistic, engaging, but "Clockers" was actually able to deliver on the promise. There are some tired cliche's like the weary detective counting the days to retirement, but Price is able to transcend these limitations. Price's true strength lies in his ability to present the story realistically from ...more
Apr 15, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing
In an effort to pretend that The Wire isn't completely over, I decided to start reading the novels of the various writers who have contributed to that extraordinary show, starting with Richard Price. This novel is just terrific -- gritty, realistic, gripping, humorous. Although the voice slightly resembles Tom Wolfe's, Price is intellectually honest and generous in the way he fleshes out his characters and their worlds. And as on The Wire, sometimes it's hard to tell who the good guys and the ba ...more
Jan 01, 2009 Martin rated it really liked it
Richard Price just came out with "Lush Life" which takes place in NYC, and when I read that he was a writer for "The Wire" TV series and because I love a certain kind of police procedural I tried "LL" and was moderately pleased - so a friend said go back to this old book (his first) and though it was alot like the characters in "The Wire" i found it had all the ingredients I enjoy and make me think: gritty realism, intelligently and realistically imagined dialog, realistic characters, and real-l ...more
Lately I can't get into anything I'm trying to read, so I need to let go of my lofty Sebald and Melville pretensions: the only things that can save me now are nonfiction or crime.

I put off adding this on here because I DO NOT want to spawn a bunch of tiresome gush-threads about The Wire. While there are things on this earth that bore me more than hearing people gush about The Wire, I can't think at the moment of what those things are. Also, I thought Lush Life was pretty meh. But I gotta say, so
Mar 15, 2016 Marg rated it liked it
It had it's moments, but it was to long, and drawn out.
Debbie Reschke Schug
Mar 18, 2009 Debbie Reschke Schug rated it really liked it
After watching most of “The Wire” for the last couple of months, I’ve been wrapped up in possibly the biggest challenge facing every city across the U.S.—the urban problem.

I guess it’s something I’ve been overly concerned with my whole life. When I was in my early teens, I asked a teacher at my church if he would allow me to sit in his classroom at a school in what I only knew as the ghetto. His school was across the street from the old Chicago Stadium, now replaced by the United Center.

Jul 10, 2014 Bibliophile rated it it was amazing
Years back, I got my mom hooked on The Wire. She's more of a Steel Magnolias and Marley & Me kinda lady, so it says something about the quality of the show that she enjoyed it, despite the violence and foul language (plus I suspect she found McNulty hot). We also spent that weekend going "yo" and "muthafuckah", the most fun we'd had in a long time. Oh yeah, and I still call her Stringer Bell sometimes (she has poppies growing in the garden = opium). I'm not particularly interested in Baltimo ...more
Jan 22, 2011 Stefani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Richard Price captured the greed and commingled desperation/hopelessness of characters whose desire to leave their doomed surroundings is only surpassed by their fear of reprisal if they do. The book seems perfectly tailored for a TV or movie adaptation given it's fast-paced and gripping plot-line, which had me staying up well past my bedtime to continue reading. And, since finding out that Price has written for the Wire as well as several screenplays, I'm more inclined to believe that was his o ...more
Jack Wolfe
Jul 11, 2015 Jack Wolfe rated it really liked it
There's this notion in these Goodreads reviews that "Clockers" is overlong, and I'll admit that it took me much longer than expected to get through it. It's not a page-turning, guns-blazing, whizz-bang thriller, and much of its duration is devoted to interrogation, most of which goes like this:

Rocco (protagonist detective guy): What do you know?
Witness: Nothing.

I mean, there are SEVERAL scenes in the book where Rocco RETURNS to a witness / perp / etc who has given him the "Nothing" line only to
Joyce Lagow
Strike is a black teeneager in Dempsey, New Jersey, a crew chief for a major drug distributor. He runs a group of clockers , young teenagers who sell bottles of cocaine, although he himself doesn t touch the stuff--he has enough trouble with his ulcer.[return][return]Rocco is a Dempsey Homicide detective, who is a borderline alcoholic. He becomes obsessed with Strike when Strike s brother Victor turns himself in for killing another drug dealer; Rocco is convinced that Victor is lying to cover ...more
Jan 07, 2010 Dan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
i'm still relatively new to the urban-crime-fiction genre, but this is probably the best example of it i've found so far. and yes - like many people say in other reviews on here - it's the perfect book for fans of the wire, especially ones as obsessive as me. in fact, rocco klein is in many ways a less romanticized mc nulty - the blueprint is all there (absent dad, alcoholic, righteous, over-committed, prone to faulty judgments). on television (even HBO), there's obvious pressure to make this so ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

A self-described "middle class Jewish kid," Price grew up in a housing project in the northeast Bronx. Today, he lives in New York City with his family.

Price graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1967 and obtained a BA from Cornell University and an MFA from Columbia. He also did graduate work at S
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“Strike experienced a moment of pure clarity: he would never make it out of here, would never rise above his current position as Rodney’s lieutenant, because all the intelligence and prudence and vision came to nothing if it wasn’t tempered and supported by a certain blindness, an oblivious animal will that Rodney had, that he, Strike, did not have.
Rodney would survive all this not because of his guts or his brains, but because he understood that there was no real life out here on the street, no real lives other than his own, and that what really mattered was coming first in all things, in all ways and at all costs.”
“Strike said "Huh" again, thinking about betrayal, about how everything and everybody were just so much smoke.” 3 likes
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