Eyes of the Innocent
St. Martin’s, Feb 1 2011, $24.99
In Newark, New Jersey, the house fire left two young brothers with no adult supervision dead allegedly due to a misused space heater. Newark Eagle-Examiner investigative reporter Carter Ross is assigned to write a story on space heaters using real deaths like that of the two boys caused by misuse.
Carter is also stuck with flighty intern Lauren "Sweet Thang" McMillan. He interviews the mother of the deceased children Akilah Harris, who was not at home when the fire occurred. They act hostile towards each other but Lauren oozing sympathy gets the mom to talk. Her alibi for not being there when the tragedy occurred is that she needed to work two jobs to pay off the mortgage reset by the bank and had nothing left for a childcare provider. Akilah's tale of woe becomes front-page if they can confirm the veracity of her claims. Instead her sad sack story falls apart quickly while her lover married councilman Wendell "Windy" A. Byers Jr., vanishes; leading to a new inquiry into the housing market and corrupt officials.
The second Carter timely journalist investigation (see Faces of the Gone) is a super urban tale that connects dots from a fire killing two latch key kids to the housing market corruption. Fast-paced, readers will believe they walk the streets of Newark accompanying resolute no nonsense Carter and seemingly inane McMillan who shows she has more substance than just being a simpering cute Sweet Thang.