The wise cracking, ultra white WASP who loves pleated slacks is back. He once again surrounds himself with a gang of colorful characters from Tommy, the gay Cuban (former) intern, “sweet thang” the young blond intern with ties to the paper and the ability to make a mean loaf of banana bread. While the plot lacked the finesse of the first novel, Eyes of the Innocent is an entertaining and occasionally humorous crime thriller for any fan of Investigative Journalism.
Investigative Journalist Carter Ross is tasked with writing a story around an apartment fire that took the lives of two young boys. Carter learns that the mother of the two boys was not present at the time of the fire and the underage boys were left to fend for themselves as their mom worked two jobs. Across town a parallel storyline develops as a prominent city councillor goes missing without a trace. The stories collide as Carter follows a trail of deception, murder, bribery, sub-prime mortgages and shady business men.
5 Stars for Style
Brad Parks employs a entertaining writing style that interposes humour with human tragedy and thrills. While it wasn’t as humorous as his first installment, the author used many funny quips as well as developing a string of entertaining and colorful characters. The characters keep you smiling while teetering dangerously on the edge of becoming caricatures. As he often exploits stereotypes in humorous ways, I can imagine this could become tiresome five books into the series.
Human Interest Story with every Novel
Brad Parks writes a journalism story with a journalists eye. Within his novels he provides an interesting look at the victims of crime and their families. He presents them as normal people often times with their own problems, demons and histories. Its as if the reader is watching the unfolding a small human interest story within the context of the novel as a whole. Additionally, the author deals with some of the issues that these characters would deal with. In this novel there is a look at predatory mortgages and the unregulated house flipping industry. This serves to provide a human background to the stories and provide a sense of realism.
These Evils Geniuses Aren’t So Smart
If there is one thing the author could improve, its the quality of his bad guys. On one hand, the bad guys are portrayed as real people. We get to know the bad guys with short chapters that give us some background and show us how they became what they are. My issue is that these bad guys aren’t nearly as smart as they made out to be. They are often involved in schemes with obvious holes that are bound to suck them in and destroy them. On one hand, there really are few evil geniuses in the world but in the last two novels (but especially this one) they come off as a bit dumb in the way they clearly overreach. In this novel, the bad guy wasn’t nearly as interesting. We knew he was in the background but he had little involvement in the story until the end. Fortunately the rest of the story was interesting because he was a bit of a bore.
Overall, this installment featured a much weaker plot. While the author repeated some of the plot devices from his award winning first novel, they were not used with the same effectiveness. Fortunately, the dialogue continues to be top notch, the characters entertaining and the actually investigation realistic. While a tad disappointing after the stellar first book, I will most definitely be reading the next installment.
It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.
Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest
Sex – 2.5
There is significant sexual tension between a few characters. There is a “tweet” that implies the desire for sexual activity and a scene in which two characters prepare to have sex but ultimately back off. None of this is graphic in nature.
Language – 2.5
All use of adult language is mild in nature. There is some mild profanity but overall the languge is appropriate for most ages.
Violence – 2.5
There is no graphic violence. There is investigation of a crime in which children have died in a fire, a gun related murder, a nail gun related murder and a scene where a character has their arm forcefully broken. There is less violence than the average crime novel.