Closer Than You Know - Brad Parks
…which doesn’t mean she doesn’t absolutely adore the result of that rape, her 3-month-old son, Alex. Which makes it all the more distressing when Barrick is tossed in the clink for possession of coke (with the intent to sell) and her baby is removed from her care and inserted “into the system.” Fortunately for the kid, a wealthy couple was all prepared to give him a home.
Barrick’s troubles, on the other hand, are just getting started. Pretty soon, she finds herself back in stir, charged with murder. Yes, murder! What English Lit graduate aver murdered anyone? Oh, and her husband disappears – but not before she discovers he's been lying to her about his whereabouts for months. Will the plucky heroine manage to get free and get her baby back before she stops lactating?
Of course she will…
Yes, Brad Parks has strayed from his Carter Ross series for the standalone Closer Than You Know. Well, he did manage to namecheck his hero as “a wisecracking investigative reporter” at one point, but hey: everyone whores themselves these days. I haven’t read any of that series, but given the crooked path of the current novel, I’m not sure I’d be “grateful for the temporary respite… from reality,” even if Melanie was.
I’m not certain for a number of reasons. One of them is that although I’m a fan of mystery novels, I’m not a fan of mysteries in which a villain’s identity is crystal clear so soon after his/her first appearance. I mean come on, Parks, give us at least a couple of red herrings, OK? Second, I am not a fan of the style of writing sometimes known as “the house gave another lurch as the termites finished the east wing.” All the bullbleep coming down on Barrick’s poor little head is just… it’s just too, too if you know what I mean.
Oh, yeah, and there are holes in the plot large enough for a Peterbilt. For instance, Melanie’s phone is found in the closet with the paraphernalia that makes her a “dealer”: scales, bags, and a little black book filled with the phone numbers of “known drug users.” Gimme a break: did anyone ever look at her call history to see how many calls had been made to and from those numbers? Did her lawyer even ask? And a rapist who keeps track of his victims in hopes of scoring a kid? Are you kidding?
No, this is about as tightly plotted as a pair of fishnet hose. Yeah, yeah, Barrett’s a sympathetic victim, but the construction of the mystery left me cold (so did the namecheck thing, actually). I might check out the Ross series some day if I don’t have anything else to read, but I’m sure not gonna run out and look for it now that I’ve finished Closer Than You Know.
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