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Eyes of the Innocent: A Mystery (Carter Ross Mysteries) Hardcover – February 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After a house fire kills two young brothers in a rundown Newark, N.J., neighborhood, Carter Ross of the Newark Eagle-Examiner gets the word to write yet another story about the dangers of space heaters in Parks's enjoyable second mystery featuring the street-smart investigative reporter (after 2009's Faces of the Gone). To complicate a routine assignment, Carter must take beautiful, spacey intern Lauren McMillan (aka "Sweet Thang") to the scene of the tragedy. In a tense confrontation with Akilah Harris, the mother of the two boys, Lauren displays an unexpected talent for getting her to talk. Akilah's hard-luck story could be front-page news if true, but when it begins to fall apart and then dovetails with the disappearance of veteran council member Wendell "Windy" A. Byers Jr., things get hot quickly. Once again, Parks, a former Washington Post reporter, deftly brings the personalities and dynamics of a modern-day city newsroom to life. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

A house burns. Two children die. A newspaper reporter finds the house documents have disappeared from the courthouse. The investigation begins, and Parks and his hero, Newark newsman Carter Ross, show us that police and newshound procedures have much in common: knocking on doors, working the phones, staring at dusty paper until the eyes burn. Like other fictional star reporters—Gregory Mcdonald’s Fletch and Laura Lippmann’s reporter-turned-PI Tess Monaghan—Ross must rout the villains without a badge to flash or the power of officialdom. Also like them, he’s a reporter “type”; a veneer of cynicism covers a layer of mush, which in turn covers a core of titanium. The revelations involve the subprime mortgage swindle, a city councilman and his cookie, and a moneyman who knows which politicians are for sale. The novel reads like a bit of investigative journalism: told in reporter’s prose, with dollops of humor, suspense, and violence. Like his creator, Ross is aware of the pain in the things he writes about. He’s also aware that that makes for darned good reporting. --Don Crinklaw

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Product Details

  • Series: Carter Ross Mysteries (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312574789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312574789
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,391,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brad Parks is the only author to have won the Shamus, Nero and Lefty Awards. He received the Shamus (for best first private eye novel) and the Nero (for best American mystery) for his debut, FACES OF THE GONE, the first book in history to take both awards. The Lefty (for best humorous mystery) went to his third book, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. The series, which features sometimes-dashing investigative reporter Carter Ross, also includes EYES OF THE INNOCENT and THE GOOD COP. It has received starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. Shelf-Awareness has deemed the Carter Ross books "perfect for the reader who loves an LOL moment but wants a mystery that's more than empty calories" and Library Journal has called the series "essential reading" and "a refreshing tonic for the mystery soul." It will continue with a fifth installment, THE PLAYER, in 2014. Parks is a graduate of Dartmouth College and spent a dozen years as a reporter for The Washington Post and The Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger. He is now a full-time novelist who lives in Virginia with his wife and two small children.

Much Too Long (And Sometimes Silly) Version:

Brad Parks started writing professionally at 14, when he discovered two important things about his hometown newspaper, The Ridgefield (Conn.) Press: One, it paid freelancers 50 cents a column inch for articles about local high school sports; and, two, it ran most submissions at their original length. For Brad, that meant making more money writing than babysitting. For the parents of the girls' basketball players at Ridgefield High, that meant glowing accounts of their daughters' games that ran on for no less than 40 inches.

This launched Brad on a 20-year journalism career, one that continued at Dartmouth College, where he founded a weekly sports newspaper that he ran out of his dorm room. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa, he was hired by The Washington Post, becoming the youngest writer on the paper's staff. Two years later, he moved to The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger. A sportswriter who later switched to news, he covered everything from the Super Bowl to the Masters, from small-town pizza wars to Hurricane Katrina. His work was recognized by, among others, the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Headliner Awards, the National Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association, which gave its top award for enterprise reporting to Brad's 40-year retrospective on the Newark riots. He was also a two-time finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists (sometimes called the "Junior Pulitzers").

While on assignment for The Star-Ledger in 2004, Brad covered a quadruple homicide in Newark that provided the real-life launching point for Carter Ross, 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.

Brad left the newspaper industry in 2008 to pursue fiction-writing. In 2009, he published FACES OF THE GONE, which sold through its first print run in nine days and went on to win the Nero Award for Best American Mystery and the Shamus Award for Best First Mystery. It made Brad the only author in the combined 60-year history of those awards to win both for the same book. Library Journal called Faces of the Gone "the most hilariously funny and deadly serious mystery debut since Janet Evanovich's One for the Money," while Yahoo.com opined that Brad was "the literary love child of Evanovich and (Harlan) Coben."

The next installment of the Carter Ross series, EYES OF THE INNOCENT, also went back to print nine days after its release. Library Journal cheered it was "as good if not better (than) his acclaimed debut" and The Wall Street Journal called it "engaging." Meanwhile, readers on a popular book review website voted Carter Ross "The World's Favorite Amateur Sleuth" in a 64-sleuth, tournament-style bracket, where he beat out Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in the finals (Brad's explanation of the upset: "I'm on Twitter. Agatha Christie isn't."). He was also named one of "Crime Fiction's Sexiest Authors of 2011" (for which there is no explanation, beyond blindness).

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, the third Carter Ross adventure, released in March 2012 and climbed to No. 3 on the Baker & Taylor Fiction/Mystery Bestseller List. It was nominated for a Lefty Award for best humorous mystery, and Kirkus Reviews placed it on its Best Fiction of 2012 list. Publishers Weekly called it "a Sopranos-worthy ragout of high drama and low comedy" while Booklist lauded it as "a masterpiece" in a starred review. RT Book Reviews warned, "Reading will be compulsive."

The series continues with THE GOOD COP. A fifth Carter Ross novel is also written and awaiting publication. An enthusiastic public speaker, Brad will serve as Toastmaster at the 2014 Left Coast Crime. He has also been known to burst into song at bookstores, libraries, book conferences, and other places where no one was thoughtful enough to muzzle him. When not writing, he is a washed up jock, a closeted community theater nerd, a father to two and a husband to one. He lives in the tidewater part of Virginia, where he is currently working on the next Carter Ross mystery.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ross A. Hugovidal on February 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Having snagged Shamus and Nero Wolfe awards for his superb debut novel, Faces of the Gone, I was curious to see if the dreaded sophomore slump would strike Parks's second effort. Not to worry. No less a writer than Michael Connelly says of Eyes, "this book held me hostage until the last page." Count me a fellow prisoner. Parks writes with a nimble, pageturning style. His books are compulsively readable. Carter Ross, his lead character combines a journalist's penetrating vision with Jon Stewart's sense of humor. And the deftly handled plot keeps you guessing. This series is a real keeper!
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Format: Hardcover
Ultimately, it is Parks' sense of humor that lifts his tale from a crowed crime genre. The insouciant reporter for the "Newark Eagle-Examiner", Carter Ross, fends off his editor's demand for a space heater article after the tragic death of two young boys in a Newark house fire. The boys' mother, Akilah Harris, is not at home at the time of the fire. Visiting the smoldering wreck that remains of the house with a new intern, Lauren McMillan- better known as Sweet Thang around the newsroom- a startled Akilah holds a knife to Lauren's throat in case these strangers mean her harm. From this point on, the predictable is turned on its ear, Sweet Thang's verbal effluvia earning Akilah's trust as the more experienced Carter reserves judgment and squelches the physical attraction McMillan evokes in all her fellow journalists.

As the disappearance of a city councilman triggers front page headlines for a bigger story, one that will link tangentially to Akilah's, Carter stumbles across potentially damning facts unearthed by Sweet Thang's research in public records. While Carter's Newark contacts provide eccentric characters and newsroom antics flesh out the frantic world of daily publication, an obviously "bad actor" hovers around the edges of a tawdry, if familiar, tale that turns uglier by the chapter, one even Lauren can't talk her way out of, including bribery of public officials, market manipulation and murder. There are flaws: a tendency to belabor the obvious and Sweet Thang's irritating stream-of-consciousness method of communication, but the author's good nature overrides minor complaints, his ebullience impossible to dismiss. Some writers excel at noir or capture life's random brutality, but Parks' take on the greed and mayhem of humanity, even in its darkest hour, remains hopefully buoyant. Luan Gaines/2011.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on February 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It was simple happenstance that I read EYES OF THE INNOCENT by Brad Parks when I did. I have been involved recently in a story that appeared in a local newspaper and as a result spent some personal time with a reporter. Thus it was a week of newsroom by day and Parks's novel by night. This follow-up to FACES OF THE GONE is set partly in the offices of the Newark Eagle-Examiner, a New Jersey daily newspaper that is struggling but still lively, due in no small part to the work of investigative reporter Carter Ross.

Parks, a former reporter himself, knows the Newark beat all too well; as a result, the narrative, told in the first-person voice of Ross, is informed with a streetwise dry wit balanced with compassion and humanity. FACES OF THE GONE won the Nero and Shamus awards; if anything, EYES OF THE INNOCENT is a better book than its predecessor, one that will firmly ensconce Parks's name on many must-read lists.

Ross has been assigned to write a follow-up story concerning a tragic fire that claimed the lives of two children. He is unhappy with the assignment for two reasons. First, he is being directed from the on-high pinnacle of Harold Brodie, a seasoned editor at the paper, to turn the article into a de facto feature on the dangers of space heaters, whether they caused the fire or not. Secondly, he is to cover the story with Lauren, a recent graduate of Vanderbilt who is interning at the Eagle-Examiner. Lauren's nickname in the newsroom is "Sweet Thang," and she has a major crush on him. Ross feels that she's way too young for him and perhaps too intense in her approach to the job. Besides, he already has one woman pursuing him --- who happens to be one of the paper's editors --- and does not want to make his life any more complicated than it already is.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Christine Trensen on June 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I picked up EYES OF THE INNOCENT after reading a few good reviews of it on a mystery listserv I subscribe to. The city of Newark is a fascinating one to me; I've only been there to get to the airport twice, but one of those times I got lost and found myself in some very intimidating areas of the city. As a Long Islander, I hear about Newark's attempts to remake itself and it does seem like there is very small progress but a long way to go.

So I was expecting a gritty thriller. While there is some grit, I wouldn't call the book gritty. Rather, the narrator is a whitebread journalist for the key Newark newspaper. This is one of those books where an investigative journalist actually gets to do some investigating, and I did like the inside look at the newspaper business and how troubled it is. The plot is all right - starts out intriguingly enough, and ends on an OK note.

The problems I had here were twofold. First, the narrator himself. Oh, how hard he works to be funny and witty. It just grated on me throughout the entire book - the voice sounds almost adolescent or frat-boyish, not the type of guy I ever wanted to spend much time with. And yet he's kind-hearted and smart enough, so I couldn't really dislike him. I just know that if I found myself near this guy at a party, I'd move to the other side of the room as quickly as I could. Maybe Carter Ross just tries too hard.

The second problem is the portrayal of women. There are three. One, the intern, is an Airhead who never stops talking and whose brains are in her boobs, which she likes men to look at. The strong female character in the newsroom is presented as a Cold Bitch who just wants Carter to impregnate her, because she wants a child and not a relationship.
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