Still on the Newark Beat

A former Star-Ledger sports and feature reporter scores a big hit with his first novel.

It was 2008 and the stars were aligning for Brad Parks. He’d had a wonderful run at the Star-Ledger, first as a sportswriter then as a news feature reporter.

“But the Star-Ledger as I knew it was dying. I was about 33 and I didn’t see it even being there when I was 43,” says Parks. His wife was finishing her psychology degree; they had had a child and a second was on the way; and his agent was shopping his first mystery novel, Faces of the Gone.

Parks took a buyout from the Star-Ledger and sold his house in Maplewood, with the idea of moving someplace cheaper—rural Eastern Virginia—to make a new living as a writer.

Just as the moving vans were about to arrive, the letter came from his agent. Parks had a landed a deal for two books featuring Carter Ross, his fictitious Newark-based investigative reporter.

“It was a dream I always had, and now I have the good fortune to be living it,” says Parks. The second book in what is becoming a Ross series, Eyes of the Innocent (Minotaur Books), has its protagonist solving the murder of a Newark city councilman. The action moves from Newark’s projects to the dour newsroom of a penny-pinched paper to more affluent South Orange. Throughout, Parks’s eye for Jersey details remains faultless.

Parks still comes north to check on Newark frequently. “The truth is, though, Newark changes little,” he says. “Whether it is a Yale-educated guy in office or some lousy machine, the people on the street and the buildings stay the same. It’s a great place to write about.”

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