As I read this novel, I couldn't help comparing it to the myriad of police procedurals on television. While the detectives on L&O typically find eye witnesses with remarkable recall, and the investigators on CSI and NCIS have outstanding technology, Matty is stuck with the more realistic scenario of unreliable witnesses, no murder weapon, no leads, and indifferent bosses. He can't even get a paraffin test (gunshot residue test) three hours after the murder. Matty's no Sherlock Holmes on this case (he's not supposed to be), but you do see a certain brilliance he maintains in getting a modicum of effort out of his boss. In short, Matty is left to chance and his own devices.
Price gives us deep glimpses not only into Matty's head, but also the killer's, as well as Eric's. Each is sympathetic in his own right. We get to see the gut-wrenching abuse the murderer is subjected to, along with the poverty he lives in. We see a bunch of hustlers - his "friends" - who never travel too far outside the parameters of their neighborhood in the projects of the Lower East Side. The greater part of New York might as well be as far away as China. Meanwhile, we see the haunting effects of the murder both on Eric and the victim's family. This is a novel that's as much about New York as it is about a murder in New York. Through the characters and the story, Price castigates the self-perpetuating system that both created the killer and the victim.
Yet this is still a story of survival. A limping, struggling, sometimes jaded survival, but survival all the same.
Here's a link to the book: http://us.macmillan.com/lushlife