"Eyes of the Innocent" by Brad Parks: Book Review

"Eyes of the Innocent" by Brad Parks
Minotaur/Thomas Dunne, 294 pp., $24.99
Reviewed by David Marshall James

Brad Parks and his investigative-reporter alter ego, Carter Ross, are back, tearing up the mean streets of Newark, New Jersey, in a secondhand Chevy Malibu with its odometer-ic integrity but a distant memory.

Carter may be a white boy down to the front of his pleated khakis and up to his powder-blue Oxford-cloth shirt with the half-Windsor-knotted tie, but he's made some important connections in The Hood that serve him well on said mean streets.

However well he may relate to those contacts, he's still no match for the latest thing in interns at The Newark Eagle-Examiner.

Actually, she's a "thang"-- "Sweet Thang," that is-- fresh and luscious as a midsummer's peach, straight from the hills of Tennessee, if you care to place Vanderbilt University therein.

You would think Miss Coed Emerita would be an inept liability to "The Bird" (Newark Hoodspeak for the newspaper, Eagle and all), what with her incessant chatter, jingling charm bracelet, and her hotline to the executive editor, Harold Brodie, via her rich daddy, who happens to be Brodie's big buddy out on the links and back in the clubhouse.

But naw, y'all. Sweet Thang, aka Lauren McMillan, can coax the news right out of a source faster than butter meltin' off a pipin' hot biscuit. Now, that works for and against her, yet it's a mostly advantageous quality.

She has a big ol' thang for Carter-- aka CR-- and she's tweetin' up a storm over him, literally and figuratively. Nevertheless, he wouldn't have made it past "Go" on his latest investigation without her, and he's much obliged.

If only he didn't have those-- uh-- stirrings for her.

Those haven't escaped the eagle (what else?) eye of city editor Tina Thompson, whose talons are grazing CR's back like some bird of prey whooshing down on a prairie rodent.

Memo to CR: Let Tina whiplash someone else. Revisit Sweet Thang.

Or, as gay intern Tommy Hernandez would put it, "Drop the b---- and make the switch." Of course, Tommy's translation thereof would be more than slightly different.

BP-- aka the author-- presents a banner-headline-worthy take on newsrooms and the struggling newspaper industry in this story of arson, political kickbacks, and murder, all fueled by the burst of the subprime-mortgage bubble.

His scathing humor supplies the kicker to the many layers of his social and political critiques. Those sharp observations, always laced with a sense of humor, are going to help propel the author to the Top Ten bestseller lists, sooner than later.

* * *