Fresh Meat: The Good Cop by Brad Parks

The Good Cop by Brad Parks is the fourth mystery featuring investigative reporter Carter Ross (available March 5, 2013).

Among the many reasons I enjoy being a newspaper reporter—not the least of which are the freedom, the fun, and the constitutionally protected right to announce when people are acting like idiots—one of the small-but-important pleasures is what I’m doing each morning at eight thirty-eight.

At 8:38 a.m., I imagine most gainfully employed, industrious members of our society are already enjoined in the struggle that is their daily grind. They have attended to their grooming needs, squeezed themselves into their workaday uniforms, rushed through a meal that puts the “fast” in “breakfast,” and made the necessary concessions to their caffeine addictions.

At 8:38 a.m., they are inhaling the carbon-tinged exhaust fumes from the car in front of them on the Garden State Parkway; or they are recovering from the latest skirmish in the ongoing Battle of No, You Cannot Wear That to School; or they are checking their emails, looking at their schedules, and generally girding themselves for all that is to come.

Me?

At 8:38 a.m., I do solemnly swear that I, Carter Ross, am asleep.

Meet Carter Ross: investigative reporter for the Newark Eagle-Examiner.  Now, for a large segment of the population, the words “investigative reporter” conjure images of a very specific kind of journalist. Tenacious. Smart. A maverick—the very epitome of Stoic Badassery, dedicated to Exposing Truths, Righting Wrongs, and Looking Awesome in a Cargo Vest.

And I’ll grant you, Carter Ross bears little resemblance to a Stoic Badass. He drives a Chevy Malibu. He wears pleated slacks. He drinks Coke Zero. Truth be told, he’s really more Frank Fontana than Bob Woodward (or even Anderson Cooper, for that matter):

My instant read was that he fancied himself a tough guy and he would only respect other tough guys. This was a bit of a problem for me seeing as, under most circumstances, I’m about as tough as sun-warmed gummy bears.

But I could pretend otherwise. So, without saying a word—because tough guys are taciturn—I pulled out a plastic folding chair and sat across from him. I narrowed my eyes and reclined slightly because tough guys squint a lot and don’t care about impressing anyone with good posture. And then I sat there. Just sat there. Because I was tough. Very tough.

It took all my energy to do this, of course. My natural tendency toward glibness made me want to fill long silences like this one. But I focused and kept my lips pressed together.

Finally, after an eternity of pretending to be tough—and I’m talking a good forty-five seconds here—he said, “You want some coffee?”

I didn’t. Not even a little. I hate coffee. I don’t like the flavor of it when it hits my tongue, and then—as if to reassure me of my first impression—it floods my mouth with this bitter, acidic aftertaste. I’d rather drink a stranger’s toothpaste scum. So I said, “Coffee. Sure.”

Because I’m that tough.

“How you want it?”

“Black,” I said, because I knew that’s how tough guys were supposed to take their coffee.

Mike got up from his seat and poured from a clear pot of dark brown liquid into a Halloween mug, complete with black cats and witches. It was not exactly a tough guy mug. But I accepted it and tried not to wince as I took a tough guy-sized swallow. Then I set the mug down and continued our modified staring contest, which seemed to involve not actually looking at each other.

“Mike Fusco,” he said eventually.

Feeling like I won some important victory, I replied, “Carter Ross.”

But for my money, that doesn’t make him any less impressive an investigative reporter. He’s still a bit of a maverick (particularly when it comes to squaring off with his editor):

I couldn’t help myself. I made a display of walking around her, bending down and pointed toward her behind.

“Oh, hey, look at that!” I exclaimed.

“What?” she said, trying to look back at what I was doing.

“I think there are some monkeys flying out of your ass.”

She stuck her hands on her hips and looked in another direction.

“I just don’t know if I want to waste my time on a nonstory like this,” I said.

As she sighed, I continued: “I have copy due on something else by the end of the week, and the editor, let me tell you, she won’t accept any excuses for it not being done because she’s never wrong.”

I stopped for a moment just to make sure, you know, we were still having fun with this. And I think we were.

Or maybe it was just that I was having enough fun for two because she finally said, “Are you finished?”

“Let me think about it,” I said, paused for five seconds, then added, “Yes, I think I am.”

And while we’ve already established the unlikelihood of him ever donning a cargo anything, that doesn’t make him any less smart, less tenacious, or less dedicated to Exposing Truths and Righting Wrongs:

On the one hand, there was what Pritch told me about Internal Affairs. Was Darius Kipps dirty? He had been talking about buying a new house, taking his kids to Disney. A guy making ninety grand a year might be able to swing those kinds of outlays on his own, depending on his other expenses. Or it might have been a sign he was supplementing his income in some less-than-legitimate fashion. And once he got caught, the decorated cop—who was the son of a decorated cop—couldn’t handle the shame. So he arranged himself a hasty exit.

On the other hand, I had my gut—and Mimi Kipps’s loud, insistent voice—saying that suicide didn’t fit. You didn’t spend hours at the hospital telling your infant son how he was going to root for the Eagles someday if you didn’t plan to stick around and do it with him, right? And there was also what I had learned about Kipps being an all-about-the-law police officer. Cops like that didn’t go bad, did they?

The bottom line was . . . well, there was no bottom line. I had no real idea what happened. And perhaps I should have let it drop—I had a big story about a public housing project to hand to Tina by the end of the week, after all—but part of being a reporter means never turning off your natural curiosity.

Most importantly, though, when the events of The Good Cop conspire to land him in the middle of his biggest and most dangerous investigation to date—one involving murder, corruption, and gunrunning, and that finds him with a price on his head, he does the whole Stoic Badass thing one better and handles the situation like an Actual Human Being:

The first thing I forced myself to do was crawl toward the curb and the parked cars. I wanted metal at my back and something to dive under should the need arise. I probably looked ridiculous, going on all fours across the sidewalk, but it would be a little while before I felt like having the precious contents of my skull more than about two feet off the ground.

Eventually, I reached a rusting Toyota Celica, against which I stayed huddled for a minute or so, trying to resist the involuntary shaking that was overtaking my body. Still dazed, I looked back at Mimi’s house, which was pockmarked with bullet holes like a modern-day Alamo. Several of the windows had been shot out. The siding was going to need a serious patch job.

Finally, I stood up on gone-wobbly legs. The Mercedes had disappeared. For now. Was it coming back? I didn’t have much experience with drive-by shootings—watching Boyz in the Hood twenty years ago just doesn’t count—but I sure as hell wasn’t going to stick around to find out.

I ran, or maybe just stumbled, to my car, fumbling nervously with my keys until I got the door open. I dove in, turned the engine over, and started driving. For the next few blocks, I have to admit I was rather generous with the accelerator, rather stingy with the brakes.

My first thought, once my heart rate returned to something like normal and my breathing was back under my own control, was that I ought to call the police. Shooting at someone, that’s illegal, isn’t it? I didn’t have a book called Being Target Practice for Dummies handy, but I was reasonably certain the law frowned on citizens discharging firearms in the direction of other citizens.

Right. Definitely. Once I put sufficient distance between myself and all those spent shell casings on Rutledge Avenue, I dialed the number for the East Orange Police Department.

For me, that’s ultimately what makes The Good Cop—and all of author Brad Parks’s Carter Ross Mysteries—worth reading. Personally, I have zero interest in reading three hundred plus pages of Ultra Serious Story told by Ultra Serious Narrator; that’s what nonfiction is for. I appreciate me a sense of humor in my investigative journalists. After all, a spoonful of humanity helps the horrors go down. Just ask Carter Ross.

This sweepstakes has ended. Check out our Sweepstakes feature  for current opportunities!

To enter for a chance to win one of three copies of Brad Parks’s The Good Cop, make sure you’re a registered member of the site, and then simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2013/03/fresh-meat-the-good-cop-brad-parks-katrina-niidas-holm  beginning at 09:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) March 5, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 08:29 a.m. ET on March 12, 2013 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at https://www.criminalelement.com/page/official-rules-the-good-cop-comment-sweepstakes. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010

Read more coverage of new releases in our Fresh Meat series.


Katrina Niidas Holm loves mysteries. She lives in Maine with her husband, fabulously talented pulp writer Chris F. Holm, and a noisy, noisy cat. She writes reviews for Crimespree Magazine and The Maine Suspect, and you can find her on Twitter.

Read all Katrina Niidas Holm’s posts for Criminal Element.

Comments

  1. Gordon Bingham

    Sounds like a good start to a series! I’m in!

  2. Jody Darden

    After easing away from generic crime fiction in general for the past year or so, this seems different enough to get my attention!

  3. Joshua Atkins

    Sounds like a good read. Can’t wait to pick up a copy!

  4. Katherine Marion

    Never read this author before, but sounds interesting – I’ll definitely check for earlier books.

  5. Michael Kelberer

    I’m in!

  6. lasvegasnv

    sounds fascinating

  7. Kim Akers

    I’ve never read Brad Parks before but this book intrigued me. Definitely on my must-read list!

  8. Shannon Scott

    Sounds like a fun read.

  9. Johannah Brookwell

    New author to me, but the book sounds very worth reading!

  10. William Hamilton

    Brad Parks is a terrific writer. All of his books have been enjoyable and I look forward to his newest Carter Ross mystery.

  11. Lori Myers

    I would like to try this series!

  12. jane

    Another interesting series I would like to read.

  13. Judie McDonald

    A new author to me. Sounds interesting.

  14. Joanne Mielczarski

    Want to read this – I’m from NJ!

  15. Clydia DeFreese

    Thanks for the sweepstakes. I’m anxious to read this one!

  16. Deanna Stillings

    Sounds good. A fun read.

  17. Cheryl English

    This book sounds amazing. Thank You.

  18. Pam Howell

    The book sounds interesting. Thanks.

  19. Kat Emerick

    The book sounds awesome!

  20. Patricia Nicklas

    Thanks for letting us know about another interesting series to read.

  21. Beth Talmage

    This sounds good. I’ll have to check out the previous three in the series.

  22. Sandie White

    I’m always looking for new reads…this sounds like something that I’d really like.

  23. Anne Joyce

    WooHoo! I LOVE Brad parks and can not wait to get my hands on “The Good Cop!” I received a copy of “The Girl Next Door” 3d bk. in the Carter Ross series last year for review and I about lost my mind, fell in love and had to go out and get the first 2 books in the series, “Faces Of The Gone” and “Eyes Of The Innocent” because I hate to read a great series out of order…:)

  24. Justine Heredia

    Looks great!

  25. susan beamon

    I also like good jolt of humor in my mysteries and in my horror stories. The contrast makes things more interesting.

  26. Connie Schultz

    I would like to read it. It sounds very descriptive.

  27. Lisa Garrett

    I would like to know more aboutCarter Ross.

  28. Bruce Hamilton

    Humor and mystery just up my alley

  29. Pat Murphy

    Just what I need to keep me company during a snowstorm. Need my mystery fix.

  30. Louis Burklow

    The Carter Ross books started strong and gotten better, so this is one I’m looking forward to reading.

  31. Allison Moyer

    Horror with humor sounds like a great combo.

  32. Kelley Tackett

    I love reading Brad Parks. He is such a good writer. I can’t wait to read THE GOOD COP.

  33. Jeffrey Malis

    Great series! Eagerly looking forward to the latest edition. I appreciate the opportunity!

  34. Jackie Wisherd

    I just discovered a new author and stories. Thanks for the info.

  35. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  36. Cheryl U.

    Thanks for the opportunity!

  37. Brenda Tucker

    Brad Parks is great – can’t wait to finish the story.

  38. Karl Stenger

    I would love to read this book

  39. Judith Barnes

    Please send me a copy. Sounds interesting.

  40. ravensfan

    Looks like a great read. Would love to win a copy!

  41. Karen Barnett

    This is such a fantastic series – and Mr Parks is a stitch! I look forward to his newsletters and antics of his interns.

  42. peg nittskoff

    Can’t wait to get a chance to read this novel and begin on a new series. I hate dry and boring–this sounds like a winner!

  43. vicki wurgler

    love to read this

  44. Ann Powers

    After reading/digesting so many “serious” mysteries this year I am ready for something on the light side of the menu. This sounds just like Ihave been looking for:)

  45. Lisa Kaiser

    This looks good. Would like to give it a try.

  46. Bob Alexander

    In pleated slacks! Count me in!

  47. Steven Wilber

    sounds interesting

  48. SALLY GASS

    THIS SERIES WILL KEEP ONE ON HER OR HIS TOES, BUT I WANT TO SIT BACK IN MY FAVORITE CHAIR TO DO THE READING

  49. Taylor Duncan

    LOVEE IT!

  50. georgiann

    would love to read this book

  51. Saundra K. Warren

    I wanna read it!!

  52. Linda Deming

    Have not read this author before but looks like I might hve found a new author worth reading.

  53. Amber

    Looks like a great book – I hope I win!

  54. Kathleen Sexton

    I picked up The Girl next Door at the library in error , but it ended up being a great bonus. Now I am hooked! I love Carter Ross. I am looking forward to reading The Good Cop. Would love to win a copy!

  55. Amy Dixon

    Greatley enjoyed FACES OF THE GONE, which I believe is the first Carter Ross book, and want to catch up on the rest of this series. Brad Parks has good stuff!

  56. Angela Dyrcz

    I would love to win a copy of this!

  57. Barbara

    I love the investigative reporter character idea!

  58. Bob Keck

    Looks like some tight well-written fiction. I’m in!

  59. diana seay

    Looks very interesting!

  60. Vicky Boackle

    this sounds very good.

  61. lynette barfield

    New author for me. Would love a copy.

  62. cheryl wong

    would love to read this

  63. Karen Hester

    New author for me – sounds promising

  64. Melissa Keith

    Ooooooo! A good cop? Cuff me! The cover of this book does something to my insides. Man in uniform perhaps? Brad Parks rocks! HEY, CARTER, PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS! PERIOD! 🙂
    I would very much love to read Brad’s book. BOOK ‘UM!

  65. edq143

    sounds like a great read

  66. runner

    Groovy!

  67. Charlotte Padgett

    I would love to win this.

  68. Joe Hauser

    Very nice!

  69. LOIS PAYTON

    I really want to win this book, GOD BLESS YA

  70. Daniel Morrell

    sounds like a fun one!

  71. mosaix

    Cops-can’t live without them!

  72. Tony Fitzpatrick

    Interesting. I do enjoy the not-so-serious narration.

  73. Deborah Blanchard

    Sounds like a great story! I would love the chance to win/read/review this one!

  74. Debra Kidle

    This is a new author to me, and this book sounds very interesting!

  75. Tricha Leary

    sounds great

  76. Ed Nemmers

    I would love to read the work of Brad Parks!

  77. Vernon Luckert

    I always love a good mystery – send me a copy!

  78. Susan Smith

    Sounds like a great book

  79. Joanne Mielczarski

    Good cop, bad cop, here I come!

  80. Karen Arrowood

    A good mystery book is always welcome in my house!!

  81. Cassandra Marquez

    this seems like an awesome read! thanks

  82. Donna Kozar

    It sounds really good.

  83. Heather Cowley

    A good mystery that I can’t figure out right away is hard to find. Sounds like a good mystery!

  84. Susan Smoaks

    i would love to read this!

  85. kathy pease

    Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in 🙂

  86. Suzanne Rorhus

    Sounds cool!

  87. Brenda Tucker

    A great read – I want to win!

  88. Brenda Tucker

    A great read – I want to win!

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