The Player by Brad Parks is the fifth book in the Carter Ross series that follows the reporter as he investigates a suspicious disease, and in doing so, becomes sick himself (available March 4, 2014).
Carter Ross is an investigative reporter with the Newark Eagle Examiner. He’s got story trouble and girl trouble and he’s not sure which is worse. Then what seemed to be a tip from a crazy person may turn into a story of a lifetime.
Edna Foster and her neighbors are getting sick – their bones were breaking for no reason and they had sudden flu symptoms. And then Edna went into renal failure and died. Her granddaughter, Jackie, a Rutgers pre-med student, reaches out to Carter for help.
“Hi Mr. Ross, my name is Jackie Orr,” came the voice on the other end. It was the voice of someone young, black, and determined.
“Hi Jackie, what can I do for you?”
“Do you ever do stories about people getting sick?”
“That depends,” I said. “Who’s getting sick?”
“What do you mean ‘everyone’?” I asked. So far, so good: kooks often insisted that whatever troubled them also afflicted others.
“Well, first it was just my grandmother. Or we thought it was just my grandmother. But then it turned out to be the whole neighborhood.”
“Sounds like you need a lawyer more than you need a newspaper reporter,” I said.
“I tried that. I tell them people are sick and they’re interested. But once they hear it’s not some open-and-shut mesothelioma case, they don’t want anything to do with it. I talked to one lawyer who sounded a little interested, but then he wanted a fifty-thousand-dollar retainer. If we had fifty thousand dollars, we wouldn’t be bothering with lawsuits. We’d just move. Our case is a little more complicated than anyone seems to want to take on.”
I felt myself sitting up in my chair and paying closer attention. There are certain words kooks tend not to use. “Mesothelioma” is one of them. So while that was a little disappointing – no kook call for me today – it was also more promising from a journalistic standpoint. As a newspaper reporter, I have a certain bias towards the disenfranchised, disadvantaged masses that others, not even sleazy lawyers, want to listen to. Maybe it’s because, deep down, I fancy myself a good-hearted human being who wants to help the less fortunate. Or maybe it’s because the Pulitzer committee shares the same bias.
[How far will the disease spread...]