THE PLAYER by Brad Parks
Kirkus Star


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A mysterious epidemic of illnesses and accidents in Newark’s South Ward is the tip of a very dirty iceberg in reporter Carter Ross’ fifth case.

In the months before she died, 77-year-old Edna Foster’s health dramatically declined. She got recurrent attacks of something that acted like the flu but kept going away after a few days. Then she broke her leg and after that, her arm. After surveying similarly disquieting results among Edna’s neighbors, her granddaughter, medical student Jackie Orr, is convinced that something is rotten in the South Ward and asks Carter Ross, of the Newark Eagle-Examiner, to look into it. Taking newly hatched intern Neesha “Pigeon” Krishnamurthy under his wing, Carter (The Good Cop, 2013, etc.) begins to dig into the particulars of the McAlister Arms, a mammoth new construction project adjoining the blighted neighborhood. But soon after he interviews Vaughn McAlister, who, together with his father, Barry, heads McAlister Properties, Vaughn is beaten to death, and Carter’s editor, Tina Thompson, pulls him off the investigation, demanding he instead find out who killed the developer. The murder will end up closely linked to the rash of medical problems in the South Ward, but before Carter can uncover the connection, he’ll have to straighten out his romantic life, which involves some unwelcome news from his ex-lover Tina, some assertive moves on the part of his sometime-lover, Eagle-Examiner librarian Kira O’Brien, and an awkward episode that involves Pigeon, some potent drinks and a big misunderstanding. It’s typical, and typically satisfying, that even after the mystery is solved, Carter will still have to face his sister’s wedding, to which both Tina and Kira have managed to get invited.

Muckraking has rarely been so meaty or so funny.

Pub Date: March 4th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-250-04408-2
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2014

Kirkus Interview
Brad Parks
author of SAY NOTHING
March 7, 2017

In Brad Parks’ new thriller Say Nothing, judge Scott Sampson doesn’t brag about having a perfect life, but the evidence is clear: a prestigious job. A beloved family. On an ordinary Wednesday afternoon, he is about to pick up his six-year-old twins to go swimming when his wife, Alison, texts him that she’ll get the kids from school instead. It’s not until she gets home later that Scott realizes she doesn’t have the children. And she never sent the text. Then the phone rings, and every parent’s most chilling nightmare begins. A man has stolen Sam and Emma. For Scott and Alison, the kidnapper’s call is only the beginning of a twisting, gut-churning ordeal of blackmail, deceit, and terror; a high-profile trial like none the judge or his wife has ever experienced. Their marriage falters. Suspicions and long-buried jealousies rise to the surface. Fractures appear. Lies are told. “The nerve-shredding never lets up for a minute as Parks picks you up by the scruff of the neck, shakes you vigorously, and repeats over and over again till a climax so harrowing that you’ll be shaking with gratitude that it’s finally over,” our critic writes in a starred review. View video >


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