Faces of the Gone by Brad Parks

Four bodies, each with a single bullet wound in the back of the head, stacked like cord-wood in a weed-choked vacant lot: That’s the front-page news facing Carter Ross, investigative reporter with the Newark Eagle-Examiner.

Immediately dispatched to the scene, Carter learns that the four victims an exotic dancer, a drug dealer, a hustler, and a mama’s boy came from different parts of the city and didn’t seem to know one another.

The police, eager to calm jittery residents, leak a theory that the murders are revenge for a bar stickup, and Carter’s paper, hungry for a scoop, hastily prints it.

Carter doesn’t come from the streets, but he understands a thing or two about Newark’s neighborhoods. And he knows there are no quick answers when dealing with a crime like this.

Determined to uncover the true story, he enlists the aide of Tina Thompson, the paper’s smoking-hot city editor, to run interference at the office; Tommy Hernandez, the paper’s gay Cuban intern, to help him with legwork on the streets; and Tynesha Dales, a local stripper, to take him to Newark’s underside.

It turns out that the four victims have one connection after all, and this knowledge will put Carter on the path of one very ambitious killer.

Faces of the Gone won the Shamus Award for Best First Novel and the Nero Award for Best American Mystery–it is the first book to receive both awards. The book was named to lists of the year’s best mystery debuts by the Chicago Sun-Times and South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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