Every time I pick up a Brad Parks book, I'm waiting to see what kind of trouble his newspaper reporter, Carter Ross, can get into. This time, he "Wasn't put off by the potential loss of his job, by hits to his reputation, or even the threat of jail." If you like witty characters, the newspaper business, and a reporter who makes just about the worst mistakes he can, you'll enjoy The Girl Next Door.
It started out as a simple obituary. Carter Ross, a veteran reporter at the Newark Eagle-Examiner, read obits for inspiration for stories. He convinced his editor, Tina Thompson, that he wanted to write a story about Nancy Marino. Nancy worked as a waitress, but she was also a delivery person for the newspaper, a union representative. Everyone seemed to like her. "She worked two jobs, kept her mother company..." He called the piece, "Fanfare for the Common Woman." And, that worked, until her sister prodded Carter, saying the hit-and-run accident might have been murder. And, Carter couldn't let go of the story, especially with the link to the newspaper. What if the link to the newspaper was bigger than anyone thought?
Carter enlists the help of a friend on the paper, Tommy Hernandez, and an intern nobody respects, Kevin Lungford. But, even his friends can't save Carter when he goes too far with his investigation, attracting the attention of the publisher. It's going to take dogged determination to keep going when wiser heads warn Ross off the story.
Carter Ross is my kind of character, one who stands up for the underdog, and persists against all odds. And, in The Girl Next Door, he persists in continuing his reckless actions, almost to the point where he's TSTL. TSTL, "Too Stupid To Live" is a complaint readers have when sleuths are reckless with their own safety. Carter is only saved by his final awareness as to how stupid he was. And, it isn't as if he deliberately set out to endanger himself. He actually tried to tell everyone, from his editor to the police, what he thought was happening. But no one would listen.
Brad Parks knows how to create characters. Carter Ross and the staff at the newspaper are brilliantly written. Tommy Hernandez, the gay Cuban-American reporter, is wonderful. Other than Carter Ross, though, Parks' best characters, book after book, are the different newspaper interns. They're all original, and funny.
But, Carter Ross is the heart of these stories. He loves the newspaper business, loves Newark with all its flaws, and, really, just loves people. He's witty and bright, and, sometimes, he's his own worst enemy, as in The Girl Next Door. He's also the first one to admit he isn't perfect, and that makes him lovable.
I'll admit right now that most readers will see the solution to this case long before Carter Ross does. Knowing he's heading in the wrong direction is part of the fun of this book. You won't want to miss the latest installment in Carter Ross' adventures, The Girl Next Door.
(Please come back tomorrow when Brad Parks is my guest blogger. His subject just might surprise you. And, Brad will be appearing for Authors @ The Teague on April 5 at 2 p.m.)
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.