Monday, November 25, 2013

THE GOOD COP - Brad Parks
First line: "The exchange started with nothing more sinister than an ad on Craigslist."

In the fourth installment of Brad Parks' Carter Ross series, Carter is secretly investigating the suicide of Darius Kipps, a Newark police detective. After interviewing the officer's widow and friends, Carter isn't convinced Darius committed suicide. He had everything to live for and was even planning a trip with his children to Disney World.

But Carter's editor, Tina Thompson, strictly forbids him to continue investigating the case for the paper. He has an article about public housing to write and he is to stay far, far away from Darius Kipps. The Newark Eagle-Examiner does NOT cover suicides.

Telling Carter Ross to stay away from a story is akin to a double dog dare. And housing story or no housing story, Carter was determined to dig deeper into this suicide and find what exactly smelled so darned rotten.

With this fourth book in the Carter Ross series, a new audiobook company and narrator were used. I wanted to love this narration because the series is such a great one for audio. There's so much entertainment tied into the mystery and suspense. The characters have rich color and personality that lend themselves to performance. However, I was very disappointed in this narration by Adam Verner.

In any of the Carter Ross novels there are a range of ethnicity, dialects and cultures. The Good Cop was no different. However, the entire cast sounded like a middle-age Midwestern male. This was especially unfortunate for the fiesty Jewish "warrantied product reseller" Uncle Berney, as he lost an element of his humor rendering him less likeable. And on the flip side it was unfortunate for Pastor Al, the shady minister whose UN-likeableness was diminished.

Parks employs a high level of sarcastic humor in his writing, and it wasn't readily apparent that Verner identified it. He seemed to be reading flatly through the sarcasm, losing the corresponding humor. If you're familiar with Parks' work, you're likely to recognize the sarcasm and visibly cringe at the interpretation of it (or lack thereof), as I did. If this is a first experience with Parks' work, you're likely to lose the impact of that humor on the social issues and characters throughout the plot.

I wanted to love this narration because I did indeed love this book. I think it's Parks' best work to date. He employs humor in a way that strengthens the social issues, especially the issue of gun ownership. He displays a rainbow of characters that are distinctive and naturally quirky. It's hard to read this book and feel indifferent about anyone. Personally, I'm thinking I just don't like this Kira too much, but oh was I excited to see Tommy again. I'm going to stage a campaign to get some of the previous interns back. It's hard to let them go.

I was listening to this audio in order to prep for my Bouchercon panel with Parks. Had I not needed to finish it in a specified time period, I would have stopped the audio and returned to the book when I could. Sadly, that's the recommendation I'll make on The Good Cop. Read it. It's a great book. Use your audio time on something different.

The Good Cop is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9781250005526) from Minotaur Books. The unabridged audiobook (ISBN: 9781624064128) narrated by Adam Verner is available from Dreamscape Media.


Cat November 26, 2013 at 12:47 PM  

I've loved the Carter Ross series and it's a shame The Good Cop has a different narrator. MacLeod Andrews did such a great job with the first three. I have the last on audio but keep putting off listening....maybe I'll buy the book instead.

Jen Forbus November 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM  

Cat, I LOVED MacLeod Andrews for this series, too. He understood Carter, he understood Brad. And it all came through in his performance. I read the review that AudioPhile had and wondered if we listened to the same I guess some people liked it. Just wasn't me...

But the book is fantastic, so I don't want people to miss out on it.

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