THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, the third in Brad Parks’ Carter Ross series (following the Shamus and Nero Award-winning FACES OF THE GONE and EYES OF THE INNOCENT) begins with the hit-and-run death of Nancy Marino, who delivers newspapers for the Eagle-Examiner where Ross works. After reading her obituary, Ross decides to make her the focus of a human interest story, but as he interviews her friends and family, he discovers her death may not have been the accident it seemed. I won’t say any more about the plot, instead, I’ll share with you one of my favorite excerpts from the book:
“Oddly, what really bothered me about it was not that they had brought my cat into this fight or that I had to replace a broken kitchen window. It was that [names omitted to prevent spoilers] didn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re.” It’s one thing to be threatened. It’s quite another thing to be threatened in grammatically incorrect fashion.”
Don’t be fooled by Brad Parks’ seemingly ordinary protagonist, Carter Ross. At first he may seem to be a milquetoast button-down 30 something journalist in New Jersey…because that’s exactly what he is. In fact, one Amazon reviewer described him as “the male version of Mary Tyler Moore”. However his acerbic wit combined with a gritty mystery make Parks’ books among the most entertaining mysteries on the shelf. You’ll stop often to laugh out loud, while dying to turn the page to see how the story unfolds.
If you haven’t read the first two Carter Ross mysteries, I have to wonder where you’ve been. If you decide to start with THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, you’ll have to extrapolate some of the characters’ relationships from context, but you won’t be too lost. It’s a strong addition to the series, with humor, action and even a little sex (though somewhat less violence than the first two Ross books).
See the vocal and literary stylings of Brad Parks live and in person on Thursday, April 5th at 7pm at the Poisoned Pen.