Although I was tweeting about my upcoming review on “The Girl Next Door” a few weeks ago, I am only just now getting around to actually writing it. Before I review the book, I’m going to do a quick review of “The Nightgown”.
“The Nightgown” by Brad Parks is a Carter Ross short story that is actually a prequel to the first Carter Ross novel. It details how he got his job at the Eagle Examiner. It is short and sweet and leaves the reader wanting more – which seems to be a Brad Parks specialty. I’m just glad that I have been savoring the series and was especially pleased to find out that there was a Carter Ross short story. “The Nightgown” is only available in kindle edition, but it is only $0.99 and totally worth it. I really enjoyed reading about Carter Ross’s initial impressions upon meeting Tina for the first time and his initial impressions with the Eagle Examiner in general. On to the book…
“The Girl Next Door” was yet another wonderful novel with Carter Ross sniffing around, stirring up trouble, and causing me to ignore everything else in my life just to devour the novel as quickly as possible. One thing that I really like about series in general is that you get to revisit certain characters over and over again. There is a reliable feeling, a comfort-level if you will, that reading a series allows you. So one thing that I was very pleased with in this Carter Ross novel was the revisiting of characters. For example, Buster Hays is a recurring character and you just have to love the interactions that he has with Carter Ross. “I certainly don’t like him, inasmuch as I consider him an archaic, cantankerous, condescending pain in the ass. He also doesn’t like me, inasmuch as he considers me a snot-nosed, spoiled, overeducated pretty boy. Other than that, we get along great.” (The Girl Next Door, pg 106). In addition to having all my favorite characters showing up in “The Girl Next Door” we meet yet another new intern in this novel. This one is a big guy nicknamed Lunky who turns out to be a lot different from Carter Ross’s first impression of him. Lunky is quite an amusing character – one that I found to be even more fun to read about than Sweet Thang.
In “The Girl Next Door” Carter Ross is one minute reading the obituaries and the next minute deciding that he should write an extended obituary about a girl who died who worked for the Eagle Examiner, thus causing him to get into trouble. The girl he is writing about delivered newspapers and was killed in a hit-and-run accident. Carter Ross soon finds out that he has bitten off more than he can chew. Things start out subtly enough, but soon he is even getting threatening notes – and not very good ones, “It’s one thing to be threatened. It’s quite another thing to be threatened in grammatically incorrect fashion.” (The Girl Next Door, pg 229). I love this quote because I completely sympathize. Granted, I don’t spend my time going around and solving mysteries causing me to get threatening notes…but my second job is Editorial Director. Poor grammar is one of my biggest pet peeves. Editing books is like a game for nerds like me.
I really enjoy the way that Brad Parks writes his novels. He usually has the bad guy narrating chapters between Carter Ross telling the full story. I like how this gives the perspective of the bad guy in addition the perspective of the good guy. It is a really fun way to read a story. I also admire the voice that Brad Parks is able to have come across in the Carter Ross series. He seems like a sarcastic, pain-in-the-ass who would irritate me to no end in real life – probably because we would have too much in common. I’m going to include one last quote, “But one of the things I had (finally) learned is the importance of having friends whose worldview was substantially different from my own. For all the politically correct halfwits who defined “diversity” in terms of skin, color, or ethnicity — things that might just be window dressing, depending on the individual — the real value in diversity is having people around who think differently from you, friends who can tell you when your logical is someone else’s crazy.” (The Girl Next Door, pg 248). I felt the need to include this quote because Carter Ross is talking about some of my favorite characters with this statement, both Tommy Hernandez and Reginald “Tee” Williams. I guess it would be accurate to say there are very few characters which I do not adore. Brad Parks certainly has created a world full of people with fun quirks that I love to read about.
Would I recommend “The Girl Next Door” by Brad Parks? Yes, most definitely. I am a big fan of the series (if I haven’t already made that obvious) and I hope to pass along the wonderful reading to as many people as I can. There is just something about a wonderful book that makes you want to tell absolutely everyone about it. I would go so far as to say that the Carter Ross series is something that would be enjoyed by even those who rarely can bring themselves to crack a book. Yes, it really is that good – go read it.