Thursday, December 17, 2009

Faces of the Gone by Brad Parks

Harlan Coben is quoted on the front of Faces of the Gone saying, "Terrific Debut." Actually, Brad Parks' debut crime novel is so terrific that it's one of the best mysteries I've read this year. Faces of the Gone introduces a fresh, attractive protagonist, and a fascinating story.

When four bodies are found shot execution style in an empty lot in Newark, New Jersey, it's a little much even for the cynical media. The story attracts attention from all over, but the police quickly connect the murders to a robbery at a local bar. And, the Newark Eagle-Examiner leads with that story. But, something just doesn't feel right to investigative reporter Carter Ross.

Ross admits he's as WASP as it comes, but he's learned to work the streets of Newark. And, his sources indicate that those four dead people, ranging from a dealer to a dancer who was hustling to feed her kids, had one thing in common. And, it wasn't the robbery of a local bar. But, Ross' new headlines put him dead center in a target for the man behind the murders, a man called "The Director." And, once Carter is faced with losing everything, he's determined to find answers.

Carter Ross is a wonderful addition to the ranks of investigative reporters in crime novels. He's a reporter with a heart, one who has learned to "approach people with respect, listen hard, and genuinely try to understand their point of view." As he talks to family members of the dead, he truly begins to see the "Faces of the Gone." But, at the same time he's skilled at his job, he's hopeless in personal relationships. That leads to some of the funniest scenes in the book - his fear of the female city editor, on the prowl for a sperm donor, his relationship with the gay intern, Tommy, his inability to make an intelligent comment when dealing with the executive editor. Ross is a hero, despite himself. And, the world of the Newark Eagle-Examiner is an excellent background for a crime novel, with Ross the perfect amateur sleuth with investigative skills.

Brad Parks was a reporter with The Washington Post and The Star-Ledger. He brings the newsroom to life with humor and love. Some of the enjoyable scenes arise from the rivalry between print and TV media, and the disdain they exhibit for each other.

Faces of the Gone is more than a successful debut. It marks the debut of a new hero, a compassionate investigative reporter in a book marked by humor that doesn't detract from the tragedy of the story. Faces of the Gone, and Brad Parks, are destined for success.

Brad Parks' website is

Faces of the Gone by Brad Parks. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2009. ISBN 9780312574772 (hardcover), 336p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Received a review copy from the publisher, in hopes I would review it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Lesa Holstine for sharing.Wish you a Merry Christmas n New Year ahead.

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Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

This looks like a great read. My library's website is down right now (!!) so I'm going to try to remember to put a request on it a little later today. Thanks, Lesa!

Mystery Writing is Murder

My Cozy Book Nook said...

WOW -- this is such high praise coming from you that I will have to check it out (after finals are graded, that is)

Lesa said...

Thank you, avagdro. Merry Christmas.

Lesa said...

I hope you do remember to request this, Elizabeth. You won't regret taking a chance on a new author, and sleuth.

Lesa said...

Hi Molly! I just really liked this book, and the main character. I hope you like Faces of the Gone when you get a chance to read it.

Jen Forbus said...

Here! Here! You already know, Lesa, that I couldn't agree with you more. Definitely one of my favorite reads of 2009, actually if I was making a decade list of top reads, this would definitely be on it.

I can't wait for more from Brad! And you need to work on him to get him out to your library - you will LOVE him!

Lesa said...

Whoa, Jen! That's saying a lot that the book would make a decade list! I didn't want to read your interview with him before I read the book. Now, I can go back and read it.

So, I'll be waiting for him to come to Arizona! Thanks, Jen. Can't wait to read your interview now.

Unknown said...

Sounds like a wonderful book - I'll have to add it to my wish list in hopes I get to it soon.

Lesa said...

It is a terrific book, Kris. Don't miss this one. Get to it as soon as you have time to spend with an enjoyable mystery.

Luanne said...

Sounds great. Thanks Lesa!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Luanne. It is terrific - Harlan Coben is right. I hope you give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Hey Everyone -- Thanks Lesa for the very kind words and insightful analysis. And thanks, everyone else, for your enthusiasm. I can't tell you how thrilling it is as an author to know there are folks out there who actually want to read my book!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Brad! And, I can tell everyone that you'll be hearing more from Brad and/or Carter in the New Year. So, they'll have to come back, and read the blog then.

Good luck, Brad! I hope you have great success with Faces of the Gone.

Teena in Toronto said...

I finished it this morning ... it's good!