In The Fraud, the most thrilling entry yet in Brad Parks's award-winning series, investigative reporter Carter Ross must chose who gets to live: him or his unborn child.
A rash of carjackings terrorizing Newark become newsworthy when one such theft ends in the murder of a wealthy banking executive. The affable, wisecracking Ross is assigned the story, but he's weary of only writing about victims of crime who happen to be rich and white. To balance his reporting, he finds a Nigerian immigrant of more modest means who was also killed during a recent carjacking.
When it turns out the two victims knew each other, sharing an unexplained round of golf at a tony country club shortly before their deaths, Carter is plunged onto the trail of a deadly band of car thieves that includes a sociopathic ex-convict. When his unborn child is put in harm's way, it becomes more than just a story for Carter. And he'll stop at nothing to rescue the baby-even if it costs him his own life.
Parks, a rising star on the crime fiction scene known for his mix of wit and grit, delivers his most emotionally resonant book yet.
In Parks's entertaining sixth mystery to feature Newark, N.J., reporter Carter Ross (after 2014's The Player), Kevin Tiemeyer, the driver of a Jaguar, and Joseph Okeke, the driver of a BMW, are killed in seemingly unrelated carjackings two weeks apart. After Carter learns that Tiemeyer and Okeke golfed together at an upscale country club a month earlier, he suspects the club's manager of orchestrating the car thefts, but his myopic focus on one suspect leads him to neglect another, putting the lives of his pregnant girlfriend and their unborn child in jeopardy. For a supposed Pulitzer Prize finalist, Carter has an implausible tendency to jump to conclusions on flimsy evidence and make poor judgment calls. Most of the cast is one-dimensional, and while Parks has fun with the stereotypes (hardworking immigrant, flamboyant gay flirt, rich girl with a heart of gold), his characters never manage to transcend them. Still, this is a fast-paced, often-funny read, and details about Newark and the decline of traditional newspapers add gritty realism.
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Another great effort from Parks. This guy can really write!