There is just something about the way that Brad Parks writes. It’s addictive. According to him, “I lace them with Class 1 narcotics” (via twitter). I wouldn’t put it past him. Part of the thrill that I get reading these books is diving deeper into Carter Ross’s world. He is such a fun character – he may be a journalist, but he has ideals and that’s admirable. He is someone that you can easily relate to, especially when it comes to his pizza addiction and his appreciation for the occasional frothy glass of nectar (otherwise known as beer). All that together with his sense of humor just makes him someone that you just want to go back again and again to revisit and learn more about. Carter Ross is a compelling character, but at the same time there are a lot of great supporting characters that give Brad Parks’ books that extra addictive flavor.
There are those characters that are in each book, Tina Thompson, Harold Brodie, Tee Williams, Buster Hays, and of course Deadline. Then there are the interns. Interns are one of the highlights of the Carter Ross books. We first met Tommy Hernandez in “Faces of the Gone”. Then with each book we got a new intern, each one with a unique story. There was the infamous Sweet Thang in “Eyes of the Innocent”, the loveable Lunky in “The Girl Next Door”, the gullible Ruthie in “The Good Cop” (those pregnancy tests!!), and then in “The Player” we meet Pigeon. She got the unfortunate nickname from covering a story about a one-legged homeless guy with a one-legged pet pigeon that once perched on her shoulder, pooped on her. This was not a nickname she enjoyed, “She groaned. ‘What if I become executive editor someday? That would mean people would have to stop calling me Pigeon, right?’ ‘No, that would mean we’d have to stop calling you Pigeon to your face.’” (The Player, pg 12). The nickname is part of what allowed Carter Ross to so effectively talk Pigeon into doing whatever he wanted when it came to pursuing his stories. She was willing to bend the rules that she was working under with the prospect of getting a better nickname. “It was worth whatever slim chance of success it had. Sometimes reporting is about instinct. And sometimes it’s about getting lucky when you throw something sloppy against a wall and it sticks.” (The Player, pg 95). Reading about Carter Ross mentoring the interns is something that I look forward to with each new book I pick up.
One aspect of this Carter Ross book that was different was we got to learn more about his family. We also learn that he has three last names: Carter Morgan Ross. His parents are quite entertaining and it was fun to learn that he has siblings. I hope in future books we can learn even more about his family. I especially enjoyed reading the interactions between Carter and his mom, “Mom, you’re talking to your son who named his cat Deadline. When am I ever late?” (The Player, pg 95).
The premise for “The Player” is there are people getting sick and no one knows why. Carter gets wind of this story and soon finds himself sick as well after interviewing some of the individuals that were complaining about getting sick. He starts to dig deep to find out what is causing all this illness and meets some very interesting characters along the way including a hippie environmentalist with a trust fund named Quint and a tanning salon worker named Vicki. Both of which were entertaining. After hearing Brad Parks do his ‘Jersey girl’ impression at his book signing, I enjoyed reading the part with Vicki even more. I don’t want to give too much away – there are some revelations in “The Player” that got me very excited but it wouldn’t be fair to get into it. Surprisingly, I cannot wait for the next book!
Would I recommend this book? YES!! I think that the Carter Ross series in general is a must-own for everyone. The books have just the right balance of humor and drama and Brad Parks’ characters will just keep having you come back for more. “The Player” is no exception.