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The Player    by Brad Parks order for
by Brad Parks
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Brad Parks writes cozy mysteries starring idealistic Newark Eagle-Examiner investigative reporter Carter Ross. He's put together a formula for this entertaining series that I thoroughly enjoy - a lead who's self deprecating and just plain nice; a muddled love life that could only happen in this millennium; a gritty location with its share of timely problems; and hilarious working relationships with a succession of young newspaper interns, each quirky in his or her own fashion.

The Player is the fifth in the series, following The Good Cop. This time Carter is contacted by Jackie Orr, who tells him about a strange illness that killed her grandmother and is affecting an entire Newark neighborhood with 'flu like symptoms and fragile bones. He enlists an intern, Neesha, who's been afflicted with the nickname Pigeon (don't ask) to help him with the story. As they interview people, they both become ill as well. McAlister Properties has been readying a nearby building site for construction - could their work be making people sick?

While Carter works this story - and is distracted from it - we get to enjoy his complicated love life. As usual, he's at odds with his gorgeous feminist editor Tina Thompson - at least most of the time. She has a huge surprise for him in this episode, and it's sure to make their bumpy relationship even more so. Brad Parks cleverly moves his story back and forth between his mystery (which soon includes murder) and Carter's hilarious personal life (we finally meet his mother and the rest of his family this time).

The bad guys in this story have set up a complex plot, with only their own financial gain in mind. Carter does figure it all out, though he ends up as a duct-tape mummy (almost a dead one) to get the answers he needs. If you haven't found this series yet, you're missing a good one - easy reading and tons of fun!

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