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The Player

Release day always brings out maximum effort from the interns, and the launch of THE PLAYER, the fifth Carter Ross thriller—available in stores and online today—was no different.

Maggie, the clueless intern, was finalizing the itinerary for the Still-Dashing Tour. Zach, the silly intern, was hard at work putting together press kits that included the latest of Brad's glowing reviews.

Even Peter, the slothful intern, was showing an unusual burst of initiative. He had pulled out a sewing kit and was stitching a Coke Zero logo onto Brad's black cashmere blazer.

It was Sarah, the smart intern, who first noticed.

"Peter, what are you doing?" she shrieked. "That's Brad's favorite blazer!"

"Haven't you heard? Several events on the Still-Dashing Tour are being sponsored by Coke Zero, Carter Ross's favorite beverage," Peter said. "I figured that since race car drivers and golfers have logos stitched on their clothes, Brad ought to do the same thing."

Coke Zero

"Is this another one of Zach's schemes? Did he put you up to this? Because if he did—"

"No, this is real," Peter said. "Brad really is being sponsored by Coke Zero."

(Editor's note for those who have a tough time telling when the interns are kidding: For once, they're not.)

Sarah jammed her fists into her hips and shot Peter a circumspect look. "This better not be like the time Zach convinced Maggie that the Lefty Award was given in honor of left-leaning political views."

"No, no, I'm serious," Peter said, showing Sarah a very official-looking e-mail from an address with a domain.

(Editor's note: See? Told you.)

So, yes, it's true. Coke Zero has signed on as a sponsor of the Still-Dashing Tour. Even better, the interns are sharing the love.

The first twenty visitors at the Jersey City, Flemington, Maplewood and Springfield tour stops will receive the Carter Ross Survival Kit, which includes: A bottle of Coke Zero, Carter's lifeblood; a discount coupon for the "Brad Parks Special" (two slices and a Coke) from a pizzeria local to the bookstore in question; a pen and reporter's pad from Tops, the preferred notebook brand of Carter Ross; and a copy of the March 4, 2014 edition of The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger, Brad's former paper, which of course does not in any way serve as the inspiration for Carter Ross's Newark Eagle-Examiner.

It's all in celebration of THE PLAYER, which has garnered starred reviews from Library Journal ("Parks (is) a gifted storyteller with shades of Mark Twain or Dave Barry") and Kirkus Reviews ("Muckraking has rarely been so meaty or so funny"), and which was a Top Pick! in RT Book Reviews ("Parks has quietly entered the top echelon of the mystery genre").

Even if you can't come see Brad on the road, crack open an ice cold Coke Zero and a freshly printed copy of THE PLAYER and celebrate launch day wherever you are.

The interns will be joining you—once Peter is done with the sewing kit.

The Interns

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*Coca Zero sold elsewhere.