The Girl Next Door by Brad Parks (Carter Ross #3)

The girl Next Door book coverA Blue Collar vs. White Collar Mystery – 3.5 Stars

The fact is that I am writing this as I am finishing up the 5th book in the series. Given what was written after this, I can say that I feel that this is the weakest book in the series to date. That said, it is hardly damning as Brad Park continues to impress in this installment. As I live in a staunch union run city and county, some of the worker vs. “The Man” themes rang true and the solid writing and storytelling keeps the series running strong.

Plot Outline

While reading the obituaries in his own newspaper, Carter Ross is taken by the death of fairly young woman who delivered papers for the Eagle Examiner. Looking for something to do, he decides to write an extended obituary/human interest story on this woman’s life. After learning the woman was killed in a hit and run, the story delves into a mystery that could even implicate his own paper. Powerful men and blue collar “everymen” are all potential killers as he unravels the mystery that no one believes exists.

The Good

Great Story

Brad Parks always spins a good yarn. I appreciate that storylines and themes used in this novel (and the others for that matter) are issues that fall within the realm of possibility. Parks has knack for taking stories that at first seem innocuous and potentially boring and infusing them with life and mystery. In this installment, he follows a vague trail of crumbs regarding a hit and run that the authorities see as open and closed. This results in suppositions, red herrings with a big finish.

Audio Wonder

The Narrator hits this character perfectly. I had read the first two but decided to listen to this one. The character of Carter Ross has a distinct sense of humour and sarcasm and the narrator read it perfectly. I am very disappointed to see that he not reading books 4 and 5. The performance is very nuanced and one of the best matches for a character I have heard.

The Bad

Missing some Zip

This installment was lacking the humour that infused the first two books in the series and there were not as many laugh out loud moments. While I liked the story overall, the mystery was not as nearly interesting as the others in the series. In the other books a small mystery often leads to bigger mysteries. That did not occur in this book and it was a small disappointment.

Again?

There are a few elements that Brad Parks likes to add it to his novels. There is potential that some of these elements could become a bit tiresome. In fact, the ongoing relationship issue with his boss has already become tiresome. While these elements are minor, it gives the books a slight formulaic feeling. This is something I will be watching as the series progresses.

Can it Stand Alone

Yes. The reoccurring characters are always reintroduced and Parks uses the same explanation in every book to deal with certain concepts and characters. The backstory plays a minimal role. If this one looks the most interesting to you, you can pick it up and read with confidence.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Brad Parks put out another strong novel. While a step below the previous two (and the two after it) the novel is highly readable and is excellent in the audio format. This series has become a favorite of mine and I highly recommend it.

Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest

Sex 2.5

Sex is a topic of conversation from time to time. Carter has a strange relationship with his boss and they are occasionally “frisky”. There is nothing graphic.

Language 2.5

Occasional use of adult language. It tends to be mild.

Violence 2.5

There is less violence in this than the others in the series. There is a hit and run at the very beginning which is actually quite graphic. Some readers may find it disturbing. Outside of this, there is little violence until the end.

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for baseballbabble.com. Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.

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