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Great pulp to help you pass the time,
This review is from: The Girl Next Door: A Mystery (Hardcover)
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The Girl Next Door, by Brad Parks, ain't great literature. But it sure will help you pass the time pleasantly and will get rid of the doldrums.
Parks has written a paint by the numbers murder mystery that will take you a New York minute to read. Carter Ross, a veteran newspaperman for the Newark Eagle Examiner, is down on his luck (they're always down on their luck). Given a paucity of real news to cover, he decides to write a human interest story about a newspaper delivery woman who was killed on the job by a hit and run driver whilst completing her appointed rounds. Inevitably, Ross discovers that this was not a simple hit and run. Following Park's linear plot, Ross' pursuit of the story leads him into direct conflict with his editor, puts his very job in jeopardy, and (of course) also positions him as the next victim.
Parks relates Carter Ross' tale with a great deal of humor and the obligatory palette of colorful minor characters. Okay, there are some problems. It's not much of a whodunit: Parks is a little heavy handed when he pushes you in one direction, so you actually see the red herring before you smell it. The characters may be fun, but they are thinner than the paper that the book is printed on. It's also hard to ratchet up tension, when writing in the first person, by putting the narrator's life in danger. Unless you assume that the book was written from the notes of the dead newspaperman's diary, it's a foregone conclusion that he will survive the novel. (Most authors ratchet up the tension in a first person narrative by putting another character--say an innocent victim--in danger. Someone who realistically could get dismembered by the end of the novel...)
But even though there are flaws, they really don't matter. This isn't meant to be an answer to Faulkner and Parks isn't even positioning himself to be the next Agatha Christie. He simply wants to entertain and does this brilliantly.