Becky’s Eighty-Ninth Book Review: “Faces of the Gone” by Brad Parks

I feel like there is so much to read and so little time to do it. After reading the new books by Charlaine Harris and Sophie Kinsella, I didn’t know what to pick up next. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at things) I recently acquired a new series by a debut author and decided to start that. (By acquired, I mean I went on a book-buying rampage). “Faces of the Gone” by Brad Parks is the first book in the Carter Ross series which is, in my opinion, one of the best new series out there. I am so glad that I started the series, although I can already tell that I am going to be moving through the series very quickly and will need to get the next book in the series very soon. (Sadly I only have the first three books…)
“Faces of the Gone” by Brad Parks starts out with four people being murdered execution-style in the back of the head. The main character, Carter Ross is an investigative journalist and is charged with getting to the bottom of the story. Carter Ross is a very clever, witty journalist who makes for a very entertaining main character. Whether Ross is discussing the interns in his office and their inferior writing, “it’s a four-paragraph story written by an intern whose primary concern is finishing quickly so he can return to inventing witty status updates on Facebook.” (Faces of the Gone, pg 3) or his own inability to come up with a proper comeback, “Just a conversation that didn’t go well,” I huffed. “My life needs better script writers.” (Faces of the Gone, pg 35) Carter keeps up a humorous rapport with his audience.
Although “Faces of the Gone” is humorous, it is a murder mystery–one which kept me guessing until the end. I think Brad Parks does a wonderful job with his debut novel. Not only is his main character well developed, but there are a number of supporting characters that are very entertaining in their own way and developed just enough to keep the reader interested, but not overly done. I especially liked the character ‘Deadline’–the lovable cat that belongs to Carter Ross. Tina Thompson is the city editor at the Newark Eagle-Examiner. She serves as a sort-of love interest to Ross, although she is more interested in what he has to offer than being in an actual relationship with him. Tina has decided that it is time for her to have a baby, and so she frequently is propositioning Ross to be her baby’s daddy. The interactions between Tina and Carter are entertaining to say the least. Then there are the sources that Carter has (one of whom connects him with some gang members which leads to one of the funniest scenes in the book) and the intern Tommy who is constantly trying (unsuccessfully) to impart his fashion wisdom onto Carter.
Carter Ross, as mentioned above is an investigative journalist or to simplify, a writer. He works at a paper where he is frequently interacting with editors. Being an editor and a writer myself, I found it very interesting to read about Carter Ross’s experiences with editors. He makes many amusing comments about this, one of which I just had to share, “The editing process often reminds me of my favorite joke: a writer and an editor are stranded together in the desert. They’ve been slogging over the dunes for days and are about to die of thirst when, miraculously, they come across an oasis. The writer dives in and begins happily drinking the water. Yet when he looks up, he finds the editor pissing in the oasis. Aghast, the writer screams, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ The editor replies, ‘I’m making it better’.” (Faces of the Gone, pg 166). Quite entertaining–this is the kind of writing that Parks keeps up throughout the entire novel. He keeps enough humor in his novel to contribute to the fast pace while at the same time keeping the mystery going with hints as to who the mastermind behind the murders is.
“Faces of the Gone” was a really entertaining, fast-paced novel full of fun characters, witty dialogue, plenty of comedy, and suspense which left me wanting more. Lucky for me, there are three more books in this series so far. Carter Ross is a very likable character that is easy to relate to and whom I cannot wait to read more about. Would I recommend “Faces of the Gone”? Most definitely, it is a great debut novel that will keep you on your toes and leave you guessing until the end.

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