09 October 2009

Review: Mind Scrambler by Chris Grabenstein

Mind Scrambler is the fifth in the Ceepak mysteries. Although the review contains no spoilers for this novel, I can't promise that there won't be very minor spoilers for the previous books in the series. I reviewed the first four Ceepak mysteries last June.

Sea Haven, New Jersey, cops, John Ceepak and Danny Boyle are on an off-duty trip to Atlantic City to take a deposition for a case involving Ceepak's father, who has been arrested in Ohio. As the two check into their hotel, Danny runs into Katie, an old girlfriend who is now working as a nanny. Her boss is the headline magician of the casino.

Ceepak and Danny are given complimentary tickets to the magic show, and sometime during the act, a murder takes place. Because of Danny's previous relationship with Katie, he becomes one of the suspects, and the partners stay in Atlantic City to clear Danny's name and help solve the mystery.

Although I still love the pair of Sea Haven's finest, I think I like them better when they're solving crimes in the small shore town they call home. The glitter and less intimate setting of Atlantic City and the lack of the familiar secondary characters made it harder for me to get lost in the story. Furthermore, I don't have a strong interest in the politics of show business and the world of illusion, both of which played a part in the novel.

Will I continue to read the Ceepak mysteries? Absolutely. Grabenstein has created two great characters who play off each other beautifully. I love the way he has allowed Danny to grow and Ceepak to get used to life outside the military. I also like the balance between the hard-core crimes and personal stories of the protagonists.

I listened to Mind Scrambler as read by the wonderful Jeff Woodman. As I said in June, his narration is not to be missed. He does a brilliant job with this series.

Here is the book trailer for Mind Scrambler. I should mention that Ceepak is a huge Springsteen fan, and he often quotes song lyrics.

Chris Grabenstein has a website that includes information about the Ceepak series and his other novels. There is even a map of Sea Haven. Published by St. Martin's Press, 2009 ISBN-13: 9780312382315 Challenges: 999, RIP, Clear Off Shelves, 100+ YTD: 75 Source: Bought (see review policy) Rating: B−


serendipity_viv 10/9/09, 7:39 AM  

I have never heard of this series. It sounds good.

Cathy 10/9/09, 7:42 AM  

Quite a coincidence that I'm just about to finish the first book in the series, and you're reviewing the fifth. Ceepak and Boyle are two characters I'm definitely going to keep reading about!

Julie P. 10/9/09, 8:04 AM  

You always manage to put new authors and books on my radar! I love that about your blog.

Chris Grabenstein 10/9/09, 8:34 AM  

Thank you so much for reviewing MIND SCRAMBLER. Jeff Woodman is fantastic on the audio; he's going to read (we hope) my second YA Book THE HANGING HILL for Audible soon. And I am busy on Ceepak #6 ROLLING THUNDER. P.S. -- we're going home to Sea Haven for the next one.

Unknown 10/9/09, 10:00 AM  

I don't know if you know but I do get most f audio books recommendations through your blog :)
Mr. Grabenstein just landed in my audio wishlist on LT, because it really does sound like a prefect book to be listened to.

Margot 10/9/09, 11:45 AM  

You've made this series so appealing that I really need to find them and get started on them. Thanks for the video too.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 10/9/09, 12:28 PM  

I am so looking forward to this Beth. I had the print version and returned it unread to the library. Now I need to see if anyone has the audio. Great Review. thanks so much

Sandy Nawrot 10/9/09, 12:50 PM  

Often in crime series, they will wander off to other locations, and I agree, I prefer them to stay home. Great review, but the cherry on top? The Boss singing through the trailer.

Belle 10/9/09, 4:17 PM  

I felt exactly the same way about MIND SCRAMBLER - the Atlantic City location just didn't work as well for me. I must admit, too, that I really liked a certain character who unfortunately got axed rather early on! I'm so glad to see that a new Ceepak mystery is coming out next year!

Jenners 10/9/09, 7:55 PM  

I live near AC so this might be of interest to me for that reason. Never heard of this series.

Anonymous,  10/9/09, 10:45 PM  

Isn't this just the best series? I love it. I liked the Atlantic City setting, but I do understand that some of the charm of the small town setting was missing. Thought the magic angle was cool. I'm really glad that there will be a #6 and I look forward to it.

We talked about this series at the last meeting of my mystery book group. We had a new member and she was asking for some suggestions. Several of us told her about this series. I try to talk it up when I can.

Thoughts of Joy 10/14/09, 10:26 AM  

Ahh! I've only read the first one this past summer! However, I'm looking forward to more. Glad to read that you are just as excited on the 5th book.

S. Krishna 10/26/09, 7:33 PM  

I've never even heard of these, I need to make it a point to check them out! Thanks.

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