Monday, February 4, 2013

Just an ordinary girl?

The Girl Next Door (Carter Ross Mystery #3) by Brad Parks (Minotaur hardcover, 13 March 2012).

Reviewed by Marlyn Beebe.

Not unlike his creator, Carter Ross is smart, funny and irreverent.  Not unlike his creation, Brad Parks was a journalist and has a quick wit.

Hopefully Mr. Parks is very much unlike his imaginary alter-ego in his tendency to get himself into trouble.

Carter Ross works for the fictional New Jersey Eagle-Examiner.  In The Girl Next Door, he is reading the paper's obituaries looking for inspiration for an article, when he comes across one for a woman named Nancy Marino, who was struck by a car while crossing the street on her Eagle-Examiner delivery route, the victim of a random hit-and-run.

Ross initially pursues the story just to call attention to a "girl-next-door" type who makes ends meet working as a waitress and delivering the newspaper, and attends her wake in order to find out more about her, but stumbles upon a loud argument between two men, one of whom is the publisher of his own newspaper.  Then, one of Nancy's sisters approaches Carter, telling him that Nancy was killed deliberately and asks him to investigate.

Carter doesn't agree, but he does begin to wonder if something is going on, and decides to continue on the story he originally intended to write, reasoning that if he does stumble across anything suspicious he can decide then. 

He gets so involved in Nancy's story that he neglects his assignments (what reporter worth his salt wants to write a fluff piece about a bear wandering through the city?) which gets him in trouble with his editor.  When he's conspicuously ordered to stop investigating Nancy Marino, he quits and continues on his own. 

What Carter discovers is a lot more arcane and mercenary than he expected, and uncovering the truth nearly gets him killed as well.

I prefer to start series at the beginning, but since I was looking for books published in 2012 that might be eligible for certain awards, I broke my rule and began with this one. There were no problems understanding the plot, and Carter's backstory was filled in as necessary.  I will likely read the first two books in the series when I can, because I liked Carter Ross and would like to get to know him better.

FTC Full Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from my local library.


  1. Thanks for a great review. I've heard good things about this series...except that some readers complained that in the first book, he supposedly treated a female intern rather disrespectfully. I'll be interested to hear what you think.

    1. I'll let you know, L.J. But based on this book, I'd say his treatment of interns is not gender-specific.

  2. I was just this morning thinking that I wish Marlyn would review a book in a series I don't have to begin reading from the first one.

    This sounds like something I might enjoy.

    Let's see… Marlyn, maybe next time it could have something to do with cash in my mail box?

    1. LOL... I might start with cash in my own mailbox, Peg!

  3. Looks like an interesting book, and series, Marlyn! Thanks for introducing me to a new author!

    1. You're welcome, Jodie. I'm interested in hearing your reaction.


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