Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brad Parks

Brad Parks’s debut, Faces of the Gone, became the first book ever to win the Nero Award and Shamus Award, two of crime fiction’s most prestigious prizes. His second book, Eyes of the Innocent, is now out from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books. Library Journal gave it a starred review, calling it “as good if not better (than) his acclaimed debut.”

Some time ago I asked Parks what he was reading. His reply:
On the face of it, I can think of few things – this side of Ulysses – that I would be less likely to read than a mystery series involving an Episcopal priestess.

I mean, I’m a guy! I like Jack Reacher! Harry Bosch! I’m not just going to read some precious little cozy with a…

Oh, wait, the Episcopal priestess is a former Army helicopter pilot? And she’s having a not-so-secret love affair with the town police chief? And the chief’s wife has just been brutally murdered, making the chief the lead suspect? And… well, hang on, this is getting interesting.

That’s the set-up for Julia Spencer-Fleming’s All Mortal Flesh. It’s the fifth book in her series involving Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne, but for whatever reason it was the first one I picked up.

I was quickly hooked. Her characters are fleshy and very human, with their nobilities and their imperfections existing quite plausibly side-by-side. The world she created for them is real and well-populated by interesting folks. And her pacing is sublime – brisk enough to keep things interesting, but not so fast that you lack time to digest the next surprising development.

And, really, her stuff defies easy categorization. It’s a bit of a traditional mystery, yet there are also harder-edged elements. It’s got romance, of course, but it’s a long way from having a shaved-chested dude on the cover. It’s also thriller-ish at times. And, man, can she throw in a wicked twist or two at the end.

Really, it’s just good writing. I’m now going back to the beginning of the series and starting with In the Bleak Midwinter – which won just about every Best First award in sight the year it came out – and getting some of the back-story between Clare and Russ. I hope to be caught up by the time the seventh book in the series comes out this spring.

Join me. You’ll have a great time.
Visit the official Brad Parks website and Facebook presence.

Read "The Story Behind the Story: Eyes of the Innocent, by Brad Parks" at The Rap Sheet.

The Page 69 Test: Faces of the Gone.

The Page 69 Test: Eyes of the Innocent.

--Marshal Zeringue