The Good Cop by Brad Parks – Murder or Suicide in Newark, New Jersey? Mystery Book Review

“The Good Cop” is the latest mystery novel by award-winning author, Brad Parks, featuring Carter Ross.

Carter Ross, 32, is an investigative reporter for the Newark-Eagle Examiner, New Jersey’s largest newspaper; and he loves his job, “One of the fundamental things I believe as a writer is that words have the power to move people.”

His commitment to journalism often leads him down a path of peril to expose the truth; and in Parks’s fourth book, mystery, mayhem, and mirth continues.

Darius Kipps, a twelve-year veteran of the Newark Police Department, dies in the Fourth Precinct’s shower stall from a gunshot wound to the head; and authorities rule it a suicide.

Why would Darius kill himself when he loved his job, and his wife and kids, especially his long-awaited 5-month-old son, Jacquille?

After interviewing Darius’s widow, Mimi, Carter is convinced that his death may not have been a suicide; and his latest adventure begins.

Carter lives a simple, single, life in Bloomfield, New Jersey with his cat Deadline; and sports a boring, limited wardrobe of pleated pants in two colors, two colors of shirts and three shades of neckties.

“You have to know what flavor of ice cream you are in this world, and I am vanilla,” Carter says.

Tommy Hernandez returns as the newspaper’s intern-turned permanent temporary status employee. He’s a 24-year-old, second generation Cuban American who is “gay as the day is long.” Carter and Tommy enjoy a professional alliance and chide each other’s proclivities.

“You know, if you are really going to convert to my side, you’re going to have to do something about those pants,” Hernandez says.

Sexy, Tina Thompson, 39, is Carter’s boss. The duo engages in an on-off romance, with each one having a different agenda. Tina, aware of her dwindling biological clock, simply wants Carter to father her child. He wants more.

Conflict arises when Tina realizes she has competition for Carter’s attention from Kira O’Brien, the newspaper’s recently hired, young librarian.

Kira invites Carter to an absinthe-drinking party at her friend Paul’s loft. His Goth-like appearance includes various piercings and tattoos and black nail polish.

Paul is enrolled in a multidisciplinary “Death Studies” Ph. D. program at Rutgers-Newark; and interns at the Essex County Medical Examiner’s Office, which provides him a key for after-hours entry.

After drinking his mint green liquid concoction, the trio sets out to examine Darius Kipps’s body at the morgue, which makes for a freaky, fact-finding experience regarding his death.

Newark Eagle-Examiner intern, Geoff Ginsburg earned the newsroom’s nickname of “Ruthie,” after Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. To monitor Carter, she assigns Ruthie a collaborative story on Newark Public housing with him.

Aware of her ploy, Carter comically counters her game by delegating a story to Ruthie involving Gluten-free, organic food coloring, home pregnancy tests and newly installed toilets at Newark Housing Authority town houses.

The Reverend Doctor Alvin LeRioux (aka Pastor Al) is a 300-pound, expensive suit-wearing man who leads the Redeemer Love Christian Church. He calls a press conference with Mimi Kipps, demanding an investigation into her husband’s death.

Carter is suspicious of his intentions, especially when he later requests the investigation end.

Carter soon finds himself deep in Black Mafia Family waters; and his beatnik Chevy Malibu is no match for the bullet-spewing, silver E-class Mercedes with tinted windows determined to gun him down.

Red Dot Enterprises drives the storyline, as it promotes gunrunning of old, low-caliber, weapons via the I-95 Corridor, which includes the New Jersey Turnpike.

“The Good Cop” features Parks’s trademark humor throughout. While visiting Pastor Al’s church, Carter says, “I passed a sign on a stanchion that read, PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE WHILE IN GOD’S HOUSE, and complied, just in case God was ready to hit me with His version of roaming charges.”

Anyone with Newark, New Jersey or regional ties will experience a special affinity for Parks’s narratives, as the city serves as their central setting. The Garden State Parkway, Irvine Turner Boulevard; and lines like “I’m still a Jersey guy. Aggressive driving is a state birthright,” are relatable.

Parks’s Acknowledgements exemplify why he’s a successful writer. Beyond perfunctory gratitude towards his agent and publisher, etc., Parks acknowledges he has a great life, both personally and professionally; and he appreciates his readership.

Read any book by Brad Parks and you’ll vicariously experience his eupeptic presence.

Brad Parks’s publisher, Minotaur Books, features many talented mystery writers, including Linda Castillo and Paul Doiron. Castillo’s main character, Kate Burkholder, is a former Amish woman-turned detective. Paul Doiron features Maine game warden, Mike Bowditch. Castillo’s new book “Her Last Breath,” will be published June 18, 2013. Paul Doiron will release “Massacre Pond,” on July 16, 2013. To discover more about these authors, visit: