Parks is the Shamus and Nero Award-winning author of Faces of the Gone, and The Good Cop (released last week) is his fourth novel to feature irreverent newspaper reporter Carter Ross; he wrote for both the Washington Post and Newark Star-Ledger before making the decision to write fiction full-time in 2008 – a background that largely informs his work. A graduate of Ridgefield High School, he now lives in Virginia but will revisit his Connecticut roots when presenting The Good Cop at two local events this week. (See details below.)
As the story opens, Carter Ross is on the cusp of landing a scoop for the Newark Eagle Examiner: an exclusive interview with the widow of a local policeman, Darius Kipps. Though details about his death are murky, Carter is tipped off to the breaking story by colleagues and immediately heads to the family home, where he finds that he is the first representative of the media to arrive. There, Carter initiates contact with Noemi (“Mimi”) Kipps, the young mother of two, who, though shell-shocked, shares remembrances of her husband for what they both anticipate will be a straightforward feature on the tragic and untimely loss of a local hero. And then he gets a phone call from the newspaper brass telling him to drop the story: Kipps’ death has been ruled a suicide.
Still smarting from this unceremonious turn of events, Carter receives a phone call from Mimi, who states without preamble, “He didn’t kill himself.” She cites her husband’s devotion to his children and his firm belief that suicide was the coward’s way out to justify her reasoning, and Carter, too, can’t seem to jive what he has learned of Kipps’ character with his manner of death. Though officially off the story, Carter decides to pursue his suspicions in an act that will both jeopardize his professional standing and bring him into contact with a cast of shady characters (including Kipps’ brooding brothers in blue, a celebrity minister, and an absinthe drinking “Death Studies” student), all of whom are memorable and none of whom are above suspicion.
Carter’s investigation leads him into Newark’s gritty underworld, where he is met with strong resistance from parties unknown – including repeated attempts on his life by some woefully incompetent would-be assassins. And while that’s serious stuff for sure, it doesn’t stop him from providing a comfy bachelor pad for his cat, Deadline, having a little good natured fun at the interns’ expense, or shamelessly cavorting with the two women who are vying for his affections. But that’s all in a day’s work for Carter, who lives by his own set of rules – and a laughable yet foolproof wardrobe – and relies on his charm and wit (as well as a rather unorthodox work ethic) to save the day.
While many authors are adept at balancing suspense with humor, few rival Parks, who will leave you breathless one minute and laughing out loud the next. This is an admirable feat unto itself, and, coupled with a protagonist as likable (and occasionally incorrigible) as Carter Ross and the series’ authentic backdrop, it makes for a most pleasant and informed reading experience. It’s been said that easy reading makes for damn hard writing, and if The Good Cop is any indication as to the truth of that statement, Brad Parks is an overachiever….
Brad Parks will appear at the Ridgefield Library tonight, March 12th, at 7:15 pm. This event is co-sponsored by Books on the Common. Registration can be completed online. The library is located at 21 Governor Street.
Parks will also appear at R.J. Julia this Wednesday evening, March 13th, at 7 pm, to discuss/sign The Good Cop. This event is free but reservations are required; seats can be reserved online or by calling the store at 203-245-3959. R.J. Julia is located at 768 Boston Post Road in Madison.