Friday, December 18, 2009

The News to Give You Fits

Newspapers may be in deep trouble, but good crime novels about them seem to be on a roll. New York Times vet John Darnton’s Black and White and Dead All Over told us about the bitchy, nasty things that go on at a Manhattan paper of record. And in The Scarecrow, Michael Connelly showed what happens when a top Los Angeles Times writer is given the sack--and then asked to train his successor.

Following in that same quality vein is the just-published Faces of the Gone (Minotaur), a debut mystery by New Jersey’s own Brad Parks, who seems to know that turf as well as Harlan Coben. Parks’ Carter Ross is an investigative reporter for the (fictional) Newark Eagle-Examiner. He’s sent out to a vacant lot, where the bodies of four people--an exotic dancer, a hustler, a drug dealer, and “a mama’s boy”--have been discovered. There’s no obvious tie between them: they hailed from different parts of the city and weren’t obviously acquainted. But, as Carter and anyone else who’s ever covered a crime scene (or read a crime novel, for that matter) knows immediately, there has to be some link. In this case, it’s a connection that will lead our hero to one very determined killer.

How Ross turns from an investigative reporter into a crime solver makes for a lively, intelligent read. And for people like me, who spent lots of years in lots of newsrooms, it’s the perfect cure for word this week that Editor & Publisher, the magazine in which I used to scan the classified ads and imagine myself working in such exotic locales as Seattle or Singapore, is folding after 130 years in business.

READ MORE:The Plug Gets Pulled on Kirkus. Who Will It Hurt?” by Nick Owchar (Los Angeles Times).


Leighton Gage said...

Hi Dick,
I'd like to add my words of praise to yours. I've recently read "Faces of the Gone" and found it, from first to last, very satisfying. Hard to believe it's a debut novel. I'll be looking for more from Parks.

Anonymous said...

Dick -- Thanks for the mention and thanks, also, for one of the best book tour moments I've had to date. I met a woman at a signing today who drove through rain and slush to see me at Mendham Books in Mendham, NJ. I was flattered, of course, and when I asked how she had heard about me she said, "I read about you on The Rap Sheet."

Leighton -- Thanks for the kind words. Books Nos. 2 and 3 are written, and will be published just as soon as St. Martin's Press/Minotaur sees fit to do so. (So write them a letter and tell them you'd rather it be sooner than later).