Some newspaper reporters should stick to writing for dailies. Some newspaper reporters should write books. Brad Parks falls firmly in the latter category.

Parks was a newspaper reporter for quite some time, and he was good at it. In his fiction writing, he has been able to take a gift for providing exactly the right amount of detail and weave a story that is populated by lively characters, includes a dollop of timely humor, and tells a story that, while tied to current events, will survive into the days when we recount to young ‘uns ghastly tales of the Great Recession.

I’m not sure whether to call EYES OF THE INNOCENT Crime Fiction or “Should Be a Crime” Fiction. Parks doesn’t take the easy way out on that, just like his readers are never quite sure whether to adore or cringe at his characters. I found myself liking them a lot, cheering for them, and also shaking my head at their words and actions.

EYES OF THE INNOCENT moves along at pace; to call it a page-turner is accurate. It is what many books aspire to be (some successfully, some less so): a great story. Parks also draws on his reporter background, I suspect, in the way he tells his story without judgment. Some of the characters are creeps. Some are annoying. But Parks lets us see them in totality, giving us insight into their back story so even the worst of them isn’t all bad. His protagonist, Carter Ross, is more than a little engaging.

I’ve never had a great hankering to spend a lot of time in New Jersey, and EYES OF THE INNOCENT didn’t change my mind on that count. But it did give me pause…many excellent stories and fascinating characters blossom in The Garden State. Maybe it’s something in the water.

If it is, I hope Parks keeps guzzling it.

Blurb: EYES OF THE INNOCENT represents New Jersey storytelling at its best.

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