Eyes of the Innocent by Brad Parks

Brad Parks Book Signing

He sang!  Brad Parks sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for the staff and audience at Murder By The Book last Wednesday.  He sang the entire song!  A capella no less.  And he sang, very, very well.   The staff could not recall an author ever singing at a signing.

Brad Parks came to sign his second book, The Eyes of the Innocent.  You may recall he won the Shamus and Nero Awards for his first book, The Faces of the Gone.  This was our January 2010 Collectible Book of the Month.

Brad Parks Background

Born in Connecticut in 1974, Mr. Parks went to Amherst College.  As a journalist, he became a newspaper reporter:  the Washington Post, The Boston Globe and more recently, the Newark Star-Ledger.  He has held jobs as a sportswriter and a news columnist.

He had the difficult job of covering the Super Bowl and World Series.  However, sports writing did require being on the road a lot.

The New Jersey Press Association gave him its highest award for a retrospective on the Newark riots of the 1967.  Working over a period of several months, he interviewed dozens of people who were there to develop a 16,000 word four-part series.  Contrary to reports of the time, the police found no snipers; shots were coming from the police and the National Guard.  He said readers did not dispute the articles.

Faces of the Gone

Mr. Parks recognized in the mid 2000s that newspaper jobs were going away.  He started his mystery-writing career with a protagonist that was much like him – a newspaper reporter named Carter Ross who was also stationed in Newark.

With careful planning he was able to write Faces of the Gone in 2006, get an agent in 2007, sell the book in 2008 (a two-book deal) and finish Eyes of the Innocent two weeks before moving and before his wife had their first child.  The move was to Virginia where his wife had found work as a teacher in a boarding school.  Her job gave him the time to write.  But he had to take care of the baby.  By strapping the baby to his chest, he was found he was able to edit his book standing up.

Faces of the Gone is about a quadruple murder based on real life mystery.  Mr. Parks said that his characters talk to him in his head and he writes down what they say to him.  He also likes to inject some humor every so often into the story.

Of Carter Ross (and himself), he told us, “In most Newark neighborhoods, I don’t exactly blend.”

He was disappointed to get a negative review from the Boston Globe where he had once worked.

Eyes of the Innocent

His second book is about … “mattresses”.  He explained that in 2008 he saw piles of mattresses all over town.  A bit of research led him to discover that the mattresses were left behind after houses were foreclosed.  The owners left behind their mattresses, which had to be disposed of.  One of his newspaper columns at the time focused on living in a block that had foreclosed properties.

He once walked inside an abandoned house that had been burned three times and found it totally trashed.  He asked the question, “What happened here?”  The answer became part of his second book.

Collecting the Books

Released over a year ago, Faces of the Gone is now valuable … if you can find it.  Mr. Parks told me that the first printing was 4,500 copies.  I ordered my firsts at Powell’s.

I found only one signed copy listed on the internet (I did not check Amazon, though).  And it was listed for $150The current rating is a 93.  I plan to list one of my copies soon.

Eyes of the Innocent has a rating of only 24.  But if the first printing is 10-12,000 as I suspect, the rating would be much higher.  (I forgot to ask him the number.)

This is an extroverted, high potential author.  Brad Parks has a great web site and he knows how to market his books.  He has a contract for two more books, which he has already written.  Another nomination or award would further his book sales and get him closer to being a best-selling author.

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