Brad Parks draws Newark, New Jersey and the Newark-Eagle Examiner as if they are characters in his novel, THE GOOD COP. His protagonist, investigative reporter Carter Ross, tells in the first person the story in which he becomes embroiled, a device that allows readers to really get to know him. As he introduces himself, Carter says that his job does not require him to get to the office at any particular time before 11ish am.
So when his phone rings and wakes him up at 8:30am, Carter is very disgruntled. He grudgingly takes the call, which comes from the newsroom. On the other end is Kate Mossman, “one of the editors on what was formally called ‘the Nonstop Newsdesk…to feed the insatiable content beast that is the [paper’s] Web site.” She is trying to tell him that a policeman has been shot; he is immediately fully awake and “grabbed his notepad.” This is definitely his news story.
"THE GOOD COP is the fourth book in Brad Parks’s mystery series and will emerge as a terrific summer read. His writing is easy to read, and the complicated cases he foists upon Carter Ross are helping him grow as a hero."
The cop is Detective Sergeant Darius Kipps, and he was attached to the Fourth Precinct, which Carter says he “knew well.” But instead of going to the station, he decides to check the property records; he finds that even though Darius had several addresses, it seemed that he lived in East Orange with his wife, Naomi. Carter decides that while other reporters can cover the detective and his death, he is going to visit the widow. Even though he doesn’t know all of the tertiary facts, he feels that the widow is the best one to interview. He tells readers that a policeman killed in New Jersey will “attract the attention of every television and radio station in the Greater New York area.”
As he is knocking on her door, Carter ruminates about how difficult and stressful this kind of visit could be. But in the end, he rationalizes his way into saying that words can be uplifting and “they can provide hope. They even comfort a grieving family.” Carter is surprised to find the house full of black women who clearly are there to comfort Naomi. They are both curious and hostile when he is introduced to them. Mimi (her nickname) also shows him her newborn and tells him how much her husband had wanted a boy.
As Carter is working the story and his contacts, he gets a call from his editor that the story is not going to happen. Darius committed suicide. From what Carter has learned from his associates and family, he does not believe that the cop was dirty. Fusco, his policeman friend, almost breaks Carter in two when he bravely suggests that if he was, that would be a motive. NO WAY!! Fusco is adamant.
While readers are immersed in this convoluted suicide/murder, another subplot emerges: gun running. Parks introduces this as a crime with which dirty cops are involved. They are the brains behind bringing the merchandise into New Jersey and wherever the money is. Carter gets involved in this investigation too, even before it is a legitimate case.
THE GOOD COP is the fourth book in Brad Parks’s mystery series and will emerge as a terrific summer read. His writing is easy to read, and the complicated cases he foists upon Carter Ross are helping him grow as a hero. Readers will find themselves happily going along with him as he becomes involved in a series of cases.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on April 12, 2013