Five Carter Ross mysteries. A Nero, Shamus, and Lefty Award. Brad Parks has certainly done well with his mysteries featuring investigative reporter Carter Ross. I think he's topped all his previous efforts though with the new book,
The Player. It's a tightly-written, fascinating plot, and Carter actually shows some maturity while retaining his wry sense of humor. This is my favorite book in the series.
As an investigative reporter for the Newark Eagle-Examiner, Carter Ross is always trolling for stories. He accepts a phone call from Jackie Orr, a smart college student who wants someone to pay attention to her grandmother's neighborhood. There's too many people in the neighborhood getting sick with flu symptoms, and, sometimes, like Jackie's grandmother, breaking bones. And, then Orr's grandmother, a healthy older woman was suddenly dead. Carter is drawn to the story. "As a newspaper reporter, I have a certain bias toward the disenfranchised, disadvantaged masses." So Carter picks up an intern nicknamed Pigeon, and the two head out to interview victims. Then, after checking out a nearby construction site, Carter and Pigeon both succumb to flu symptoms.
Carter calls on newspaper co-workers and his sources to check out the the story behind the new construction project, McAlister Arms. He's thinking here are environmental causes for the symptoms. That's not a surprise in Newark, New Jersey. Even before his investigation can get far, though, a body is dumped at the construction site. Carter knows his story might be even bigger than he thought.
In the midst of a complicated investigation, Carter, as always, has women issues. There's Kira, a sexy young librarian, straight-laced at work, and just out for a good time at night. But, his managing editor, Tina Thompson, has always known how to pull Carter's strings. And, there's Carter's mother. In the midst of last minute preparations for Carter's sister's wedding, his mother can manipulate him more than any other woman. She just wants to see her children all settled so she can have a grandchild or two.
Carter Ross is a wonderful series character. He's bewildered when it comes to women, wily when it comes to interns, and a streetwise reporter. And, he uses his sources wisely in The Player, a fascinating examination of crime and corruption in Newark. Brad Parks knows the streets where Ross walks, and it's evident in the descriptions of the city.
If you haven't read previous books in the series, you've missed out, but Brad Parks knows how to quickly provide background and introduce characters without spoiling the story for those of us who have read all the books. Parks may have won numerous awards, but The Player is my favorite of the five books in the series. The mystery, humor, and relationships all come together beautifully. Brad Parks and Carter Ross just continue to get better.
Brad Parks' website is www.bradparksbooks.com
The Player by Brad Parks. Minotaur Books. 2014. ISBN 9781250044082 (hardcover), 323p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.