I have enjoyed all of the books in this series by Brad Parks. At the time of writing this review, there are 5 books in the series and I have each of them. I think this one takes the cake as my favorite so far. While many of the reliable antics remain from the previous books, the mystery was much better and the intrigue deeper. Of the first 5, this one wins best plot in my opinion.
Carter Ross, the fearless investigative journalist, is awoken early one morning to cover the death of a police officer. In an effort to get ahead of the curve, he attends at the home of the officer’s widow to obtain a solid background and understanding of the deceased. Soon after, he learn the papers plans on killing any story on the officer as the initial investigation ruled the death a suicide. Despite a paper-wide moratorium on writing a story related to suicide, Carter continues to follow his nose as elements of the investigation are not adding up. His investigation leads Carter deeper into a web of lies than he could have guessed and he unwittingly finds his own life balances on unraveling the mystery.
A Plus Plot
The plot took me in a direction I did not expect and for me, I love when a story takes unexpected turns. As the mystery unfolded, I found that I was honestly surprised. In all the books to this point, there are story elements that repeat (Tina and Carter drama, new intern, jokes about Carter’s ultra “WASPiness”, etc.). This tends to give the novels a slightly formulaic feeling. In this installment, Brad Parks took the story deeper and made the mystery more complex and as a result, the feeling of formula went out the window. In my opinion, this installment demonstrates a noted growth in the authors ability.
Lots of Color
Brad Parks continues to have a good grasp on colorful characters. This installment is no exception. While that characters are not too developed the cast is entertaining and excellent plotting win the day. I am also happy to say that the humour content was up in this book. Brad Parks is back on his game.
All of the novels in this series deal with topics relevant topics in the news. This installment dealt, in part, with gun control and the perceived failures of enforcement. It raises some interesting points about states with different forms of gun control and despite one State’s strict enforcement (New Jersey in this case) it is easily flouted by a simple trip to the neighboring state. Gun control and domestic gun running are interesting side issues in this novel.
If you were getting tired of some of the antics from the previous novels, you will not feel better about them after this one. Personally, it did not bother me as the plot overshadowed any of these side issues. I will say that things get better on this front in the fifth novel, so do not despair if you were getting tired of reoccurring drama.
Why Change a Good Thing!
I was disappointed that the narrator was changed in this installment. The previous narrator nailed the character so perfectly that I cannot imagine why he did not do it again. Not to say that this narrator was bad. The narration was quite excellent but simply not same.
Can this Book Stand Alone
Yes. This story is again self contained. Any backstory is explained and certain concepts are reiterated. You could easily pick this one up without having read the first three.
This was a very entertaining story with a great cast of characters. It currently stands as one of the best investigative journalism novels I have read and I highly recommend this installment and the series as a whole.
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 – 3
There is a bit more sex talk than in previous installments. Carter has a girlfriend that is quite lacking in the inhibition department. While there is nothing graphic, sex is a topic of conversation more often than in the previous novels.
Language – 1
Occasional use of adult language. It tends to be mild.
Violence – 3
There is more death than in the previous installment. There are several deemed suicides with moderately graphic descriptions and some gun and gang related violence.