The dedication to the book gives the reader a glimpse of what to expect when reading it. It reads:
“To my wonderful parents, who deprived me of the tormented childhood every novelist supposedly needs, instead showering me with endless love, affection, and encouragement that continues to nourish me to this day.
If my books aren’t dark and twisted enough, it’s totally their fault.”
I guess we have his parents to thank for the most humorous and at the same time serious mystery I have ever read.
“How can that be?” you ask.
The plot of the story is quite serious and dark. The story opens with the death of a policeman which appears to be a suicide. The protagonist, a serious investigative reporter, searches for truth which takes him to some of Newark’s seedy neighborhoods.
Despite that, the voice of the author, Brad Parks, shines through offering the reader a sense of his personality which apparently is like the protagonist. I enjoy having this light hearted relief in a serious book. Somehow the author manages to walk the fine line between having quirky characters that are almost over the top, without sinking into a farce. Some of these characters include a pair of older Jewish con men, a student getting his Master’s degree in death studies, an absinthe drinking librarian, a gay Cuban sidekick and a cat named Deadline.
Aside from the sense of humor, there are other similarities between Park and his protagonist, Carter Ross. Both are graduates of prestigious colleges, Parks attended Dartmouth where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to a twenty year career in journalism working at both the Washington Post and The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger.
As an author, Parks is the only author to have won the Shamus Award in 2010 and the Nero Award for the same novel, “Faces of the Gone”. “The Girl Next Door,” the third book in this series has been nominated for a Lefty Award for best humorous mystery.
I enjoyed this book very much and look forward to reading more from this author. I have included a clip of the author entertaining the audience at Thrillerfest with a clever musical number.
Five stars out of five.
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In accordance with FTC guidelines for reviewers, I would like to clarify that this book was provided to me by the publisher free of charge. I am not compensated by the author or publisher for my review. All they expect is an honest review of the work.