Author: Brad Parks
Publisher: Minotaur Books, 2012
Hardcover, 336 pages
Genre: Investigative Reporter, #3 Carter Ross
Source: The author.
First Line: For three mornings, he merely observed.
Investigative reporter Carter Ross is my kind of guy. He knows that good news can be found in the obituaries, and that one sign of a well-led life is that a person has great stories to tell when it's over. Believe me, he's never going to be at a loss for great stories to tell in his golden years if The Girl Next Door is any indication!
In reading the obituaries in the Eagle-Examiner, Ross comes across that of Nancy Marino, a hard-working woman in her forties who was the victim of a hit-and-run when she was out delivering newspapers for the very paper for which Ross works. Ross knows that he has the opportunity to write a really nice piece about a well-liked everyday woman cut down in her prime, so he gets the go-ahead and heads to Marino's wake to gather quotes and anecdotes. It's the very last place that he expects to find controversy, but that's exactly what happens when one of Nancy's sisters hints that the accident may very well have been murder.
Back at the Eagle-Examiner, most people think Ross is nuts for wanting to follow up the murder angle. Who in the world would want to kill a woman who's almost universally described as "the girl next door"? Ross perseveres, and the more he learns, the more he realizes that Nancy may have made some enemies-- like her boss at the diner where she was a part-time waitress, and even the publisher of the Eagle-Examiner. This is one story that's proving to be too good to ignore.
If you like investigative reporters who consider getting stuck in a door to be just a great story to tell when they're old or giving up on a good story to be impossible, you're going to love Carter Ross. Ross, in one small scene in The Girl Next Door is single-handedly responsible for reminding me why I moved to the ultra-low humidity of the Sonoran Desert.
The characters and the humor are the stars of this book. Although I found the identity of the killer to be a bit transparent, the well-paced story meant that I thoroughly enjoyed watching all the clues being found and put together. Brad Parks is one talented writer, and now that I have firsthand knowledge of this fact, I fully intend to be around to read all of his well-told tales. Come join me!