FACES OF THE GONE (Brad Parks) – Best First P.I. Novel 2010

Brad Parks, author of FACES OF THE GONE, won the Shamus Award for Best First P.I. novel at Bouchercon 201o in San Francisco this week.

The review of the book which was posted on this blog on July 8 follows the excerpt from the newspaper interview.

Parks was interviewed on December 9, 1999 by Mark Mueller of the Star-Record:

Author bases novel on a crime in Newark

— The dirt was still stained dark with blood when Brad Parks walked into the debris-strewn lot.

Newark’s bloodiest crime in decades — the execution-style killings of four people — had a profound effect on the city five years ago, galvanizing the anti-violence movement and shining a light on rampant witness intimidation.

The murders made an equally lasting impression on Parks, a child of the suburbs and a career sportswriter working his first assignment as a news reporter for The Star-Ledger at the time.

“I was used to attending events where there were cheerleaders, and suddenly I’m down at this crime scene. There were no cheerleaders in South Newark that day,” Parks said. “It’s a very vivid memory for me.”

Parks, who left journalism last year to pursue a career in fiction, drew heavily on the quadruple homicide in writing his first novel, “Faces of the Gone,” a mystery that adds to a growing list of volumes set in New Jersey’s largest city….

“One of the characters is a hooker,” he said. “There are gang members and shady characters. By the way, there are also grandmas and entrepreneurs.”

Parks’ protagonist is Carter Ross, a wise-cracking investigative reporter who matches wits with a shadowy drug kingpin known only as “The Director.” In the book’s opening pages, the villain directs four drug dealers to a vacant lot on Ludlow Street, adjacent to a church, and executes them.

The vacant lot and the church are real. The true-life victims, however, were killed not because of involvement in the drug trade but because one of them witnessed a murder. The others were with her when she was silenced.”

“Faces of the Gone” is the first in a series.

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The review:

The story opens with the execution style murders of four drug dealers who are killed at one of the many vacant lots in the city. The bodies are left in the open so they will be found quickly. “Because punishing the four dealers – all of whom had strayed and broken a vital clause in their contract- wasn’t enough. It had to be made clear to the others in the organization, especially those who might consider straying themselves, that this was the price for disobedience.”

The “Director” wanted maximum publicity and he knew leaving four bodies together would attract the attention of the media whereas one or two might escape notice. Carter Ross, the investigative journalist of the Newark Eagle -Examiner disagrees with the senior reporter and the editor of his paper. They are convinced that the four were involved in the robbery of a nearby bar but Carter thinks that is too simple an explanation. The four had all been in prison and, upon leaving, had begun careers as heroin dealers. But they worked in distinctly different areas of the city. There didn’t seem to be anything to connect them.

As Carter investigates and becomes involved with the families of the dead, he learns about lives that never got started and a life that had promise but got badly derailed. Events take a decidedly frightening turn when Carter’s house is blown up and the homes of the people who gave him information for his article are torched. In that the nearly simultaneous incidents take place within a couple of hours of the story hitting the street, Carter realizes that he has made an enemy of someone who has a clear channel to the newspaper.

Carter Ross might as well be a man from another planet in the neighborhoods of Newark. The product of prep school and Amherst College, the street life is foreign to him but Carter is a man who likes his job and likes getting the stories of people who are victims out to the reading public. Carter believes in the power of the press as an instrument of good and works the story no matter where it takes him.

The relationships between the characters make for a good story especially Carter’s relationship with his editor, Tina, who views Carter as the perfect father for the baby she is desperate to have.

The book is funny especially when the story centers on Carter’s meeting with the Brown Gang who have given up dealing drugs in favor of bootleg

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One Response to FACES OF THE GONE (Brad Parks) – Best First P.I. Novel 2010

  1. Pingback: AUTHORS N – R | MURDER by TYPE

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