Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tilt-a-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein

Title: Tilt-a-Whirl
Author: Chris Grabenstein
ISBN: 978-0-78671-781-1, Carroll & Graf, 2006
Genre: Police Procedural, #1 Ceepak & Boyle mystery
Rating: A

First Line: Some guys have a code they live by, some guys don't.

Sea Haven, New Jersey cops John Ceepak and Danny Boyle are eating breakfast in the Pancake Palace when a young girl covered in blood runs screaming down the middle of the street. She is Ashley Hart, and her father, millionaire Reginald Hart, has just been shot to death on the Tilt-a-Whirl ride at Sunnyside Playland. For part-timer Boyle, it will be his first murder investigation. For John Ceepak, a former M.P. recently returned from Iraq, it's far from being his first experience with violence and death.

This is another of those series that I've heard so much about from my fellow mystery-loving friends. Instead of trying to get my hands on the books immediately, I filed the info away and bided my time with lots of other books. My inner bookworm always seems to know when it's the right time for me to try a new author, and now it was time for Chris Grabenstein.

I must've read too much F. Scott Fitzgerald in my youth ("Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.") because I tend to be very distrustful of rich characters when I read mysteries. Although the plot is a strong one, it really didn't hold many surprises for me-- undoubtedly due to my own cynicism. No, the gold mine in this excellent book is its characters, Danny Boyle and John Ceepak.

Danny Boyle is such a kid. He's twenty-four, and he likes being a summer cop because he has time to spend with his buddies on the beach. He hasn't given much thought to his future, and although he may make sarcastic comments about driving Ceepak around town or the number of items Ceepak can pull out of the pockets in his cargo pants, it's obvious that Boyle has a growing case of hero worship. Ceepak is the only person Boyle knows who has a Code: "I will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate those who do."

Ceepak on the other hand seems very stiff and unapproachable, and I doubted that I'd warm up to him; however, Grabenstein gives us just enough glimpses into the character's past for his behavior to make sense. By book's end, I felt as though Danny Boyle were my kid brother and John Ceepak a man I definitely wanted to know more about.

For some strange reason this partnership of Boyle and Ceepak seemed to beg for a comparison, and after tossing aside--among others-- Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, I finally settled on a new one: The Lone Ranger and Beaver Cleaver. (Hopefully I haven't totally alienated Tonto and Wally.) Ceepak is a loner. Life has carved big chunks out of him, and although he wants to Do Good and be a Good Example, he needs his downtime away from others. Boyle is so full of wide-eyed innocence that it's not only fun but a pleasure to watch him grow up.

These two New Jersey cops have really got their hooks in me, and I won't be satisfied until I've read every single one of their adventures!

[Book source: Paperback Swap]


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed the book Cathy. I agree the plot isn't the strongest and I did have to beat my inner cynic into submission for a while. I'm going to stick with the audio versions of this series I think because that definitely added an extra dimension of enjoyment for me.

  2. Bernadette is right -- the audios are wonderful! And I agree with both of you: The great part about this series is Danny and Ceepak.

  3. I've read several good reviews of Grabenstein's books, so I'd like to read one. I'd never choose them because of their titles or covers though.

  4. This is the first I have heard of these books and I love that they're about 2 NJ cops!

    Thanks for a great review Cathy, this is going on my TBR list!

  5. Bernadette- One of these days I'm going to give audio books a try.

    Beth-- They certainly are such wonderful characters. I'm glad that Ceepak loosened up a bit!

    Kathy-- No, the covers certainly aren't appealing. I'd say that the titles are memorable, though!

    Amy-- Great! I hope you enjoy them!

  6. Sigh. Why must you keep pointing out books I think I need to read? The first in a police procedural series is hard for me to resist. Since you have me adding to my reading list can you also add a few hours in my dsy so I can get to them all?!


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