Tag Archives: Flipping Out

Burning Down the House

Eyes of the Innocent: A Mystery by Brad Parks (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 294 pages)

“I’m not saying it’s simple to find and tell the truth.   It takes a great deal of hard work, intellectual honesty, open-mindedness, and a willingness to keep listening to people even when your gut is telling you they’re full of it.”

This second appearance of Carter Ross, an investigative journalist in Newark, New Jersey, is a morality tale with a mystery added for good measure.   The worst case fallout from the great housing debacle of the recent past is the theme of this book.   Carter and his protegé, a blonde intern nick-named “Sweet Thang,” set out to fulfill the big boss’s demand for a space heater story to be run in the Newark Eagle-Examiner.   As the reader can easily imagine, this assignment becomes a much greater story filled with heinous crimes and enough anxiety to satisfy the most demanding mystery/thriller reader.

“Editors are 98% full of stupid ideas.”

Author Park’s news background is put to good use as he sets out a primer on choosing  journalism as a career.   He employs Carter’s first-person narrative to poke fun at the others and produce some excellent character development.   There’s also a third-person narrative set off by the use of italics that weaves in the most sinister element of the story.   This other thread serves to highlight Carter’s honesty and commitment to his profession via a stark contrast.

Although the tale is told from a male’s perspective, it is surprising how chatty Carter can be when he considers his feelings, likes and dislikes.   There is a bit of smugness on his part but given the golden professional reputation Park ascribes to Carter, it appears to be well-earned.

There is a strong similarity to the mysteries, Dog Tags and Flipping Out by the writing team of Lomax and Biggs.   Indeed, these books and Eyes of the Innocent are very much like going on a police ride-along.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was received from the publisher.   “This book held me hostage until the last page.”   Michael Connelly

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Cut and Paste

Cut, Paste and Kill by Marshall Karp (Minotaur Books, 296 pages, $24.99)

Is nothing sacred?   Take scrapbooking – it is so important to some ladies that they tout their pastime on license plate frames, bumper stickers and even personalized plates.   To Marshall Karp scrapbooking is an easy target for a serial killer’s modus operandi.   This is the fourth Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs book from Karp.   Lomax and Biggs, two of Los Angeles’ finest, ramble around the greater L. A. area forsaking a sumptuous bar-b-que and a quiet weekend with family and friends.   Their mission is to scope out the scene in the first of several quirky murders.

Along the trail of the scrapbooking murderer, the cops cross paths with an assortment of characters guaranteed to be found in L.A. but not necessarily anywhere else!   The chapters in this book are short and chock full of snappy dialogue.   It’s easy for a reader to imagine the scenes using the clues Marshall Karp provides.

Be prepared for false stops and restarts as this story ebbs and flows just like the ocean along L.A.’s Pacific Coast.   Recommended.

This review was written by Ruta Arellano.   Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.

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Flipping Out

Flipping Out: A Lomax and Biggs Mystery

by Marshall Karp

Flipping houses takes on a whole new meaning in this, the third Lomax and Biggs mystery from Marshall Karp (Cut, Paste, Kill; The Rabbit Factory).   Karp is a playwright and screen writer who makes good use of his background.   The Flipping Out plot centers on several poker-playing Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detectives, their spouses and a mystery writer with more nerve than a bad tooth.   This is a wild and crazy tale comprised of standup comedy lines and relationship banter set inside the Home and Garden TV premise that a profit can be made from fixing up houses and selling them quickly.   Real world flipping activities have been seriously curtailed by the current economic slump but this is not – fortunately for the reader – the real world.

The spin on the basic concept employed by the mystery writer, who happens to be the mother-in-law of one of the detectives, gets around the real estate slump by adding an only in LA feature.   The house being flipped is the setting of a murder – in one of her novels!   The open house staging is complete with an outline of the body, crime scene tape and a story-board in each room describing the action in the book.

Although the body count adds up quickly, there’s nothing at all scary about Flipping Out; rather, Karp indulges himself by reeling in his reader through many layers of plot and a teaser crime solution part way through the story.

Who knew that LA Homicide duty could be so funny?   A unique and enjoyable read!

Recommended.

Review by Ruta Arellano.   A review copy was provided by Minotaur Books.

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