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Fiction Book Review – "Faces of the Gone" by Brad Parks – East Coast Drug Dealer Executions Mystery

May 19th, 2017 by admin | Filed under travel-news.
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Four young, blindfolded drug dealers from across Newark, New Jersey, converge in the back of a white van. The three men and woman are led to a vacant lot on Ludlow Street, and shot execution style. What commonality did the “Ludlow Four” share that caused their congruent deaths? Debut author, Brad Parks creates the captivating story behind the fictitious crime scene in “Faces of the Gone,” (Minotaur, 2009).

Thirty-something Carter Ross is an investigative reporter for the Newark- Eagle Examiner. He’s an affable, astute man raised in a New Jersey suburb. His journalistic experience compensates for his inherent lack of street shrewdness, having attended Amherst College. He lives simple, drives a four-year-old Malibu; and shares his Bungalow-style house with his cat Deadline.

Carter calls upon Newark’s street savvy, including the Brick City Browns to help solve the Ludlow Four murders. The 90’s-formed gang has ties to victim Devin Whitehead (aka Dee Dub). The members wear the Cleveland Browns 1987 (an era this Clevelander remembers well), retro uniforms as id. Carter smokes pot with the guys to negate suspicions he’s a cop. It produces an interesting outcome when Carter returns to the newsroom to write a story late night. Tynesha Dales, an exotic dancer at the Stop-In Go-Go, befriended casualty Wanda Bass, a single mother of four children. Carter earns her trust and she introduces him to Wanda’s mother, Miss B. Together they visit Wanda’s body being prepared for wake. While there, funeral director Mrs. Rosa Bricker confides in Carter crime-solving details about Wanda’s murder weapon.

Parks’ former career as a newspaper reporter lends credibility to Carter’s newsroom narrative. Grandfatherly executive editor Harold Brodie still hungers for exclusive angles in reporting, and, much to Carter’s surprise; lauds his pot-smoking escapade with the Brick City Browns to get the story. Sultry, single, thirty-eight -year-old Tina Thompson is the newspaper’s city editor. She’s aware of her biological clock ticking and desires offspring. She often kids Carter about becoming her sperm donor. Their relationship advances from the newsroom to Thompson’s condo; which keeps you guessing if Carter’s alliance with her transforms from friend to father of her yet-to-be-conceived baby. Twenty-two-year-old Tommy Hernandez is second-generation Cuban American, speaks fluent Spanish and is “as gay as the Mardi Gras parade.” He complements Carter’s field reporting instincts, if not his style of dress. The fashion fan often teases Carter about his apparel atrocities: “I wouldn’t expect someone who wears pleated pants to understand.” Parks also authenticates his prose by referencing regional landmarks.

The demonic duo of the Director and his sidekick, Monty is responsible for the heinous crimes. Carter’s investigation instills worry amongst the two and they activate “damage control,” producing devastating results. Parks prefaces each chapter with profile details of the Director; sealing your curiosity to discover his identity.

Carter solves the Ludlow Four murders but not before becoming entwined in the deathly web spun by the Director and Monty. Parks writes a fast-paced, entertaining premiere worthy of your reading venture. Visit the author online at

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