Title: The Girl Next Door (Carter Ross 3)
Author: Brad Parks
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: 2012
Strolling through the obituaries looking for inspiration for a story, Carter Ross reads about the death of Nancy Marino, a waitress and a delivery person for the Eagle-Examiner. Even though Carter never meet her, he feels that he owes a fellow employee an article about the life of this everyday woman. Carter heads to her wake to get input from friends and family but the combination of a confrontation with his publisher Gary Jackman and the whisperings of Nancy’s family indicates that there is much more to this story. One sister clams up quickly but the other one is convinced that her death was not an accident.
Carter searches the scene of Nancy’s hit-and-run death and uncovers a witness whose story indicates that the accident was intentional. Unfortunately, Carter’s new editor and sometime girlfriend, Tina Thompson, has removed him from the story upon the request of her higher-ups. Carter, however, cannot let it go.
His quest for the truth involves a English major intern, Lunky, whose knowledge of literature vastly surpasses his ability to write copy; Nikki, Nancy’s fellow waitress at the Greek restaurant; Jim McNabb, local union executive director; and Tommy Hernandez, City Hall beat writer. The more involved Carter gets into the story, the more his personal and profession life seem to fall apart and he must decide if his job and his life are worth the story.
This is the third Carter Ross book I have read and they just keep getting better. Carter is a truly likable character but he is always very real, very human, and very flawed. There are times when I am cheering for his decisions and other times I am smacking my face at his mistakes. He is someone the reader wants to root for. The author has also done a great job at incorporating multi-dimensional secondary characters; they are interesting and believable enough to help advance the plot without taking away from Carter and his main story.
I really enjoyed Carter’s struggle in this book with “machine of newspaper publishing.” In this day and age of computers and the internet and instant news, it is sometime difficult to see the necessity of in-depth reporting and research. Carter’s quest for the truth and the hurdles through which he must jump show just how intricate and complex news and truth really are.
Who might like this book:
The series does a great job at presenting modern journalism in a useful and meaningful way. The series highlights the classic respect of the newspaper age as it struggles to find its place in a modern world. However, the stories aren’t meant to be social commentary and the facts about the industry never detract from the main story itself.
It is obvious that the writer is a former newspaperman. He truly tells a good story. I have to thank my daughter for this one; I got her interested in the series and she put this book on her birthday wishlist. I bought it for her but had to read it first! Guess I will have to give it to her a bit early!