Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Samaritan” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,988 ratings  ·  191 reviews
Ray Mitchell, a former TV writer who has left Hollywood under a cloud, returns to urban Dempsy, New Jersey, hoping to make a difference in the lives of his struggling neighbors. Instead, his very public and emotionally suspect generosity gets him beaten nearly to death. Ray refuses to name his assailant, which makes him intensely interesting to Detective Nerese Ammons, a ...more
Paperback, 378 pages
Published June 8th 2004 by Vintage (first published January 7th 2003)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Samaritan, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,988 ratings  ·  191 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Samaritan
Ayelet Waldman
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
His best book, I think. The female cop is one of the best characters I've ever read. Love.
A failed screenwriter returns to his hometown of Dempsey, New Jersey (the same fictional city featured in Richard Price's masterpiece Clockers), in order to get back in touch with his roots and to teach a high school class. After he decides to do some good deeds in the inner-city community, he gets his ass kicked close to death. He's refusing to name his attackers or give a reason for the beating, so his old high school friend, and now near-retired cop, Nerese "Tweetie" Ammons, sets out to find ...more
Sherry (sethurner)
I enjoyed this mystery much more than some of the Amazon reviewers. There are two main characters, a former TV writer named Ray and his high school friend, Tweetie. Ray is back in town trying to reestablish a connection to his daughter Ruby. When Ray is beaten nearly to death, Tweetie, an almost retured cop, comes in to figure out what happened. I found the plot to be interesting, and the characters to be complicated enough to hold my attention. Price does a nice job with the atmosphere and ...more
Dec 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good addition to modern urban-setting fiction by Richard Price. As with his other books he uses misdirection in the plot to make a point -- the book essentially is about how even the best intentions can be propelled by vanity, and the consequences of that for both any given individual and this modern moment. The plot involves a television writer who moves back to his boyhood home in northeastern New Jersey, and who, after starting a job at a local school where he teaches writing, is found ...more
Brendan Detzner
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Crime fiction would owe Richard Price a huge debt if he'd just written "Clockers" and then stopped. Like that book, this one is full of some of the best dialogue ever written, pitch-perfect journalistic detail, and a great perk-your-ears-and-try-to-figure-it-out mystery. To that, Richard Price throws in the neurotic self-dissecting streak he made such good use of in his earlier, more traditionally "literary" work. The results will be sure to get under the skin of anybody who has ever worked as a ...more
Apr 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: Craig
Ray Mitchell lived in the housing projects in Dempsey, New Jersey when he was a kid, but, despite many setbacks, he has become successful, writing for an award winning TV series about inner city high school students. He’s divorced, with a 12 year old daughter that he hardly knows, and hell bent on making life easier for folks still living in the projects.

Richard Price knows the language and characters of the streets. His descriptions and dialog create fully formed images in your head of the
Jun 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dave-s-books
It's easy to forget what a good writer Price is. Writing for movies and TV has sharpened his sense of character and dialogue. Ray is one of the most complex characters I've come across in fiction in awhile. What really does motivate us to try to do "good?" And how do we react when the consequences of our acts of "charity" aren't what we expect? Or worse, when those consequences are negative and we feel they are what "we deserve?" The twist at the end was wrenching.
Dec 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book has been sitting around my house for months and I finally picked it up. Wow! I have never read a crime pop fiction that has so much character devo in it. It is so well written and fascinating... enjoyed every page.
Apr 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Lush Life has been getting a lot of super press, so found this earlier novel for a non-twenty-five dollar price. Eh. Lots of wonderfully drawn minor characters shoehorned into a less than compelling mystery plot.
J.K. Grice
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Price is a great writer, and I enjoyed reading SAMARITAN.
Patrick O'Neil
Price dissects a crime and breaks it down to the basics - spot on with his dialog as usual.
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good police procedural, as expected from Richard Price.
Mark Walker
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is low key to start with and is never the gritty urban crime novel that might be expected. The way Ray looks back to his beginnings is a bit patronising and clumsily written. Expecting a crime novel the reader wonders where the story is going of continual visits of the female lead to the male lead in hospital. But after a while it becomes clearer what the book is trying to do. The book is less about whodunnit than it is about altruism, redemption, trust, and the features of people's lives ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This fucking book. This is one of the most frustratingly uneven novels I've ever read. Tough to rate too. Cut down by fifty percent it might be a masterpiece. Instead it is a book that contains greatness, repeatedly interrupted by tedium, awkwardness, and repetition.

The way Price sets the story up is masterful. In short: a television writer moves back to the area in New Jersey where he grew up. Shortly thereafter he gets his head bashed in; he survives but won't tell anyone what happened. Price
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
An almost perfectly written novel. The writing is exquisitely good. If you think you might ever want to write a book yourself, don't read this, because you will get depressed when you realize you will never be able to tell stories the way Price does.

The title is brilliant. The theme begins as "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished", but as the story unfolds you wonder whether there is such a thing as a purely good deed, or whether all our acts of kindness are disguised selfishness. Ray is a Samaritan.
Oct 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More literary than Leonard and a little less dark than Ellroy, Price ranks among the masters of modern crime fiction. His procedural detail is quite competent, but he excels at character nuance and offers some of the truest American dialog around.

Set in the public schools and projects of New Jersey's Dempsey neighborhoods, the novel is a natural extension of issues addressed in the fourth season of HBO's The Wire. It explores race, crime and poverty, and gives an unnerving account of the
Mithun Prasad
Richard Price idea of story is very simple, yet very deep rooted and morally ambiguous in nature. Once he gets that, he paints a large canvas of a plot around it, the scrutiny of the characters, their decision, their action, the neighborhood for most part that acts as central role for all that's happening in it down to the most minute details. Added to it the wordplay from the master of authentic dialogue and vivid description you gotta a book that's unshakable off your head once read.
There are
Lezlee Hays
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Price knows how to write a good who-dun-it. But Price also knows how to write some lovely prose - "a clear winter's night, the sky still holding on to that last tinge of electric blue. Directly above their heads, sneaker-fruit and snagged plastic bags dangled from bare tree limbs; above that, an enricling ring of fourteen-story buildings; hundreds of aluminum framed eyes twitching TV light silver, and above all, the stars, faintly panting, like dogs at rest." Have you read a better description ...more
Scott Holtzman
Sep 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: readandrecommend
Samaritan was the first Richerd Price novel I read. I did so because Price introduced the re-issued Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby, Jr., and being a huge fan of Selby, I had to read someone who became a writer because of Selby, as I had a very similar experience. Anyway, I was not disappointed. Price does not have the pyschological depth of Selby, but he has a clear, distinct voice that has plenty to say. Samartian is gripping pyschological tale of a man done in by his own deeds. Price ...more
Danny Rice
Dec 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book deserves a better review than i am prepared to give just now... I have nothing to remark that properly honors the book itself or how i feel about it. I must grok.

Still, it deserves something. Some sentiment. Here goes:

I knew shortly after beginning Samaritan that Price is going to be one of those writers whose whole collection i would devour, shamelessly and systematically, like unguarded deviled eggs.

I hereby designate this area sacred. A space for future gushing.
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Excellent gritty urban crime fiction with definite literary quality. Ray Mitchell grew up in the projects of fictional Dempsey New Jersey and he returns there after a checkered career and a stint as a TV writer. He is compelled to help people and he is nearly killed for his trouble. An old friend from the projects, Nerese Ammons, now police, investigates the crime. Reminds me of Updike in the strength and centrality of Ray's point of view.
Aug 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
almost five star. This book is really good. Price is remarkable at driving so much character development, NY/NJ devotion/stroking through simple whodunit plots that would almost be disappointing if one wasn't so attached to the characters by the time of the tell. Not quite Clockers but damn near.
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: McGyver5 Shesintomalakas
Shelves: fiction
The scenes were well set with high resolution imagery. The character flaws make the book, not forced plot devices. The story telling within the book is a treat. Overall, I'd say the man knows how to turn a phrase.

However, the book lost a little steam towards the end.

It isn't a relatively highly rated book of Price's, so I'm excited to read more.

Sarah Eisele
Mar 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely could not put this book down! Price, the author of "Clockers," writes the dialogue so effectively it felt like the characters were having their conversations right in front of me. It's pretty gritty, but absolutely one of the most fun reads I have had in a while!
Dec 24, 2008 rated it liked it
A decent story about the struggles of a man who is trying to fix the life he has splintered into so many pieces...and who tries to grasp firmly of his past as a way to venture into his future. Not nearly as good or involving as Lush Life, Price's most current work, but a well played out portrait.
Oct 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I've enjoyed everything I've read of Richard Price (Clockers, Freedomland). He's got a nail-on gift for inner-city dialogue, and his character development is gritty and absolutely believable. The story's not as interesting as Clockers, but still deserves a 5-star for his prose.
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It made me deliciously anxious.
Jul 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, read-2011
Excellent; a fantastic story line combined with realistic and intriguing characters. It is unusual to get both in a book. I look forward to reading more by this perceptive author.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When Richard Price's name is brought up, the talk often revolves around his work on "The Wire", his novels "Clockers" and "The Wanderers". However, "Samaritan" is, for me, his finest work. This novel is Price's best qualities at their strongest: a crime with a not-so-simple answer that one might read about in the newspaper, opposed to some grand conspiracy; some of the best dialogue, not just in the crime genre, but maybe the sharpest, period; characters often left behind, forgotten, in Price's ...more
Flow Chi Minh
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One thing authors struggle with across genres is authentically conveying voices of urban characters. Inappropriate or overuse of slang, stereotypical or over exaggerated personality traits, these symptoms prove its hard to write something if you don't know it. And the sad thing is most audiences won't even know when the writer gets it wrong.
Richard Price doesn't suffer from this problem. From Clockers to his work on The Wire, the man has proved he can capture the voice of the inner city with
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Whites
  • Nick's Trip
  • Patrimony
  • Rum Punch
  • The Wrong Case
  • Stick
  • Gun, With Occasional Music
  • Drive (Drive, #1)
  • Wonder Boys
  • Stardust
  • The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
  • Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go
  • Telegraph Avenue
  • Galveston
  • American Tabloid (Underworld USA #1)
  • Motherless Brooklyn
  • The Long-Legged Fly (Lew Griffin, #1)
  • The Betrayal (The Siege #2)
See similar books…
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Also writes under the pen name Harry Brandt

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
“infinitesimally but with” 0 likes
“He restrained himself from another wisecrack, infinitesimally but with great effort attempting to close down his nightclub approach to education; every positive change in his life, every minute increment in character, acquired more or less through shame.” 0 likes
More quotes…