I have been following Brad Parks since his first multi-award winning book, Faces of the Gone. I was immediately drawn to the funny and somewhat irreverent Carter Ross. After the previous novel, I felt the series had turned a corner. The characters and relationships began to mature and the stories began to break away from the formula of the first four novels. This installment runs with the new found maturity in the characters and writing. In my humble opinion, The Fraud is the most polished, entertaining and skillful story yet. Carter Ross is here for the long haul.
Carter Ross is forced to ask himself if he is willing to die for what he loves. The question is answered as Carter Ross investigates a series of murders that occurred following carjacking’s. After the carjacking and death of a wealthy white man, Carter is put on the story and he ultimately finds his future is threatened as he follows the clues into directions that he did not anticipate. Despite his years and experience, he learns that the direction of the evidence and the clues are influenced by your perspective.
While I enjoyed the other novels in this series, I didn’t take this series too seriously. While the writing was excellent, the stories and character interactions tended to follow a predictable pattern. This always becomes tiresome and ultimately leads me to abandoning a series. While some minor patterns persist, the series has developed a maturity and The Fraud puts Carter Ross in the same league as the other big players in the genre. I would not be surprised if Brad Parks find one or two new awards decorating his shelf.
In the past couple of years, most of the novels I have read have been in the Crime and Mystery genre. If you are like me, you have started to feel burned out reading of dark crime with broken, fragile and damaged protagonists. While some elements of the this series and this novel can be dark, these elements are always balanced with the humour and wit infused in the story. Another draw of this novel is the focus on a mystery that is more than a murder mystery. As Carter Ross is an investigative journalist, we are absorbed in mysteries and crimes that we would not find in crime other novels. In The Fraud, we are provided some insight in the carjacking culture in New Jersey. Brad Parks takes an less than compelling crime and spins an exciting mystery. The story is about more than the dead bodies.
For my money, The Fraud cements Brad Parks as one of the best and most entertaining crime and mystery writers in the business. If you want to read his best, go out and buy The Fraud. It just hit the bookstores on July 7, 2015 so there should be plenty of copies to be found. If you want to know how Carter Ross made it book 6, go out and buy Faces of the Gone. I don’t think you will be disappointed and I am willing to bet you that you will want to read all the way to book 6.
A special shout out to Brad Parks and St. Martin Press that put an early release copy into my hands. While I rarely mention that a book is an advance copy (for fear that someone will think I inflated my rating to appease the author or publisher), St. Martin Press helped me get a copy of this when it could not be found from the regular pre-release sites.