Becky’s Two Hundred and Thirteenth Book Review: “The Fraud” by Brad Parks

“The Fraud” by Brad Parks is the sixth installment in the Carter Ross series. For me, this one started out a little on the slow side, and I was worried that Brad Parks had lost it, but within a few pages I was hooked as per usual and I even found myself all choked up with tears in my eyes and goose bumps down my arms.

SPOILER ALERT – DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU’RE NO UP TO DATE ON THE SERIES (unless you like to live dangerously…then by all means continue)

At the end of the last book “The Player” we learn that Carter Ross is going to be a daddy after a leg massage he gave Tina got a bit out of hand. In “The Fraud” Carter’s editor and baby mama is well into her third trimester and he is struggling with their relationship dynamic. “Since then, we have returned to our historic roles. I keep pressing for a committed relationship. She keeps putting me off. I realize this sort of makes me the girl in this whole scenario. Yet I’m secure in my manhood and have not let her hesitance deter me from thinking we’ll eventually be together. The way I see it, I beat out roughly thirty million other guys on the night I was conceived. I’ve had a winning attitude ever since.” (The Fraud, pg 64). This is one of the things that I like about the Carter Ross novels – there is some level of humor throughout the novel, sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious, and other times we get into full-blown sarcasm – my favorite (no, seriously).

One thing that I was really excited about in “The Fraud” was the return of Sweet Thang – a former intern first introduced in “Eyes of the Innocent”. I think that the interns are one of the most entertaining aspects of the Carter Ross novels, a point I’ve made before. I know that Sweet Thang was a fan favorite and I’m glad that Brad Parks brought her back for an encore. I think that the various supporting characters in the Carter Ross books are part of the charm. Whether the intern plays an integral part in the book or is more in the background than anything else, they are entertaining. The interactions between the interns and Carter Ross are what really sells me on them. He tries to teach them about the newspaper world and more often than not finds that his words of wisdom are falling on deaf ears. More often than not, when I laugh aloud at these books it’s during some intern interaction.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I enjoyed “The Fraud” and I think overall the series is a great read. I like that in this book we built more upon Carter Ross growing as a person into a different role – that of a dad-to-be. Brad Parks writes a blend of drama and comedy with a touch of mystery that keeps readers reading. You can’t help but cheer for the guy that one way or another finds himself saved in the nick of time by the girl. Carter Ross has a charm that keeps the readers coming back for more. Plus there are passages like: “But for those of us who are infrequent bedfellows with patience, the liberty of movement more than compensated for the extra mileage we put on our automobiles.” (The Fraud, pg 75). I mean, anyone that has driven in New Jersey can relate to that!

Becky’s One Hundred and Thirty-Fifth Book Review: “The Player” by Brad Parks

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.



Becky’s One Hundred and Thirty-First Book Review: “The Good Cop” by Brad Parks

“You have to know what flavor of ice cream you are in this world, and I am vanilla.” (The Good Cop, pg 9). Ah, good old Carter Ross. I’m sure in his mind, he is vanilla, but having met the guy who produced and in no way influenced who Carter Ross is (according to his website, Carter Ross is a “fictional character who bears no resemblance to Brad beyond their shared height, weight, eye color, hair color, skin color, charmed upbringing, sartorial blandness and general worldview” ( I would have to say vanilla is not an accurate description. There is at least some chocolate syrup on there, maybe some nuts and sprinkles. Brad certainly seems like a sprinkles kind of guy.

It may seem like I’ve been writing an awful lot about Brad Parks lately. That’s true. It’s one of those things that happens when you meet someone for the first time. Someone who’s mind you’ve been – at least partly – because you’ve read their work. Not to mention the fact that he is sort of a celebrity (ok, a minor one). He’s kind of a big deal, sort of. Meeting Brad Parks was quite an adventure and one you can read about if you so desire, on

But back to the book review: I finished reading “The Good Cop” a little while ago but wanted to hold off on writing the book review since I was writing on my other blog about Brad Parks. Now that I have the next Carter Ross book in my possession begging me to read it, I think it’s time.  

“The Good Cop” is once again following the hilarious Carter Ross who really does seem to get himself into the craziest situations. The story that falls in his lap (and gets him up at an ungodly hour) is about a dead cop. Carter finds out about the death but doesn’t information about the circumstances right away so he goes off to investigate as the nosy reporter that he is. Carter decides that he is going to interview the widow and get some really good, heart wrenching material about this stand up cop with a daughter and a newborn son tragically struck down in his prime. Already half the story is written in his head when his editor Tina, tells him to drop the story since the cop wasn’t killed, it was a suicide.

Being the reporter that he is, Carter of course thinks there is something fishy going on. What guy who is planning on killing himself makes plans to go to Disney World with the family? Soon, there are more bodies to deal with. Not long after that, people try to kill Carter in a few different ways. “The Malibu may not be good for many things, but getting in people’s way is one of them. It has got a nice, wide rear end – the J.Lo of the car world.” (The Good Cop, pg 242). There are some crazy things that happen in this book, including Carter trying absinth, but the one thing that I really want to talk about I can’t because it would be a spoiler. Trust me, this book is something to pick up.

One thing that I really enjoy about Brad Park’s writing is that he has a nice amount of humor in his books, but it is not overly obvious. It is present in the way that I hope my writing will show humor. This quote in particular I really found amusing and just a great example of the subtle humor that he likes to put in his writing. “I only wished I had brought a clipboard along. A white man looks that much more convincing with a clipboard.” (The Good Cop, pg 279)

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!! I think that Carter Ross is the kind of character that anyone could easily fall in love with. He’s goofy and charming and all in all, just someone you want to read about. I cannot wait to really dig into “The Player” which is the fifth book in the Carter Ross series. One thing I’ll say, don’t pick up this series if you are trying to get anything done. But it is an excellent series and one that I fully recommend. In fact, it is so good that I pay for the hardcover because I’m too impatient to wait for the paperback to come out. I swear, Brad Parks is lacing his books with something addictive.


Becky’s Ninety-Ninth Book Review: “The Girl Next Door” by Brad Parks

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. 






Becky’s Nintey-First Book Review: “Eyes of the Innocent” by Brad Parks

“Eyes of the Innocent” by Brad Parks is the second book in the Carter Ross series. Sometimes when authors go on to write sequels to books that I enjoy I see a decline in the writing. This was so definitely NOT the case with Brad Parks’ second Carter Ross book. I really enjoy all the different aspects of his writing. His main character, Carter Ross is a very amusing newspaper reporter.

In his first novel, Carter is showing the ropes to a young, flamboyant male intern. (Who is constantly trying to get Ross to take his fashion tips). In this second novel, Carter is showing the ropes to another young intern–only this one is a hot, female blonde. This led to quite an interesting turn of events and quite a few amusing situations. For example, after Ross writes a short article the intern starts raving about his writing and asking him how he does it. “I debated telling her about the frequent-urination method but decided such advance concepts in fluid dynamics were better left to the professors at Princeton. So I gave my other standard writing advice: “writing is like a muscle,” I said. “The harder you work it, the stronger it gets.” I immediately regretted the metaphor. “I bet you’ve got the biggest muscle of anyone I’ve ever met,” she gushed. I coughed uncomfortably.” (Eyes of the Innocent, pg 43). These kinds of amusing exchanges occur throughout the book. It adds a nice comedic relief to an otherwise rather brutal murder mystery.

Carter Ross is a very likable character and I find myself relating to him a lot. I don’t know if this is because he is a writer or because he makes it a point to solve crimes. Ok, granted, I don’t actually solve crimes myself…but I write about it and love to read about it. So sort of. Either way, I very much enjoy reading about Carter Ross’s adventures and where he ends up. In “Eyes of the Innocent” there are a lot of supporting characters that were introduced in the first Carter Ross novel. One of these characters is a source for Carter and he is a very amusing black guy. Ross points out, “He liked the novelty of having a white friend–in some parts of Newark, it was almost like keeping an exotic pet.” (Eyes of the Innocent, pg 85). As I pointed out earlier, throughout the novel Brad Parks keeps things light with the ever-present comedy.

Would I recommend this to a friend? Most definitely. I think that Brad Parks is a very talented writer and I cannot wait for him to write more books. I am curious to see what direction he will take his career. So far there are four books in the Carter Ross series and one short story. I am looking forward to reading more Carter Ross books and also reading some stand alone novels. “Eyes of the Innocent” was a great read that I think would appeal to a wide range of readers. I highly recommend it.

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.