In the years before I started blogging, I kept notes about the books I read. Every once in a while I post mini-reviews of books I read in my pre-blogging days. Enjoy.
Grabenstein's Ceepak series is made for summer. John Ceepak, a former MP serving in Iraq, retired from the army with a slight case of post-traumatic stress syndrome and joined the Sea Haven, New Jersey, police force. Danny Boyle, a Sea Haven native, becomes a temporary daytime cop to earn some beer money and figure out what he wants to do now that he's out of college.
Ceepak is a Dudley Do-Right who lives by a strict code of conduct and is absolutely always prepared. Danny epitomizes the average twenty-something trying to make the transition from party-loving college boy to responsible adult. The interplay between the two personalities is one of the driving forces of the books.
The mysteries themselves are well conceived. The clues are all there but are intertwined with red herrings and incidental facts so it's not that easy to figure out what happened before Ceepak and Danny do. The first two books are the strongest in terms of the mystery, but all the books are terrific in terms of our heroes' stories.
The shore town of Sea Haven is a great backdrop for the novels. We get to know the boardwalk, the locals' favorite cafe, the best beaches, and a handful of recurring local residents. Because the Jersey Shore is a tourist magnet, there is always an influx of new people to keep the plots fresh.
The nature and descriptions of the murders pull this series a bit out of the cozy genre, but the characters and humor keep the books light enough to make them perfect for summer beach reading.
I listened to the entire series, which is read by Jeff Woodman. I can't imagine a better narrator for Ceepak and Danny. In fact, Woodman's work is so amazing that the books are not to be missed in audio. Unfortunately for some of you, I believe the series is an Audible.com exclusive.
The fifth book in the series is coming out on June 23.
Chris Grabenstein has a website with information about the series, including a map of Sea Haven. Grabenstein has written an adult thriller series and a spooky series for middle readers.
Tilt a Whirl won the 2006 Anthony Award for Best First Novel.