Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tilt A Whirl -- Chris Grabenstein

Tilt A Whirl was Chris Grabenstein's first novel, but he's published several since. The ones in this series are named for carnival attractions, which might be good. Or it might not if he runs out of names. Anyway, this is a fine debut mystery.

John Ceepak is a former MP who's recently returned from Iraq. An old Army buddy is Chief of Police in Sea Haven, NJ, a small resort town, and he's given Ceepak a job. Partnered with Ceepak is the narrator of the novel, Danny Boyle. In their first case they're faced with the murder of a man who's shot on the tilt-a-whirl right beside his young daughter. There's some solid procedural material that seems to point to a suspect, but not everything's as it seems. Ceepak and Boyle have to separate the truth from the lies, the false clues from the reality.

Ceepak is an experienced lawman, and he lives by a Code. Boyle is in his early 20s, a little naive, and has no code. It's sort of as if Spenser had an apprentice, but it's not really like that at all.

The book is a mixture light-hearted humor and wisecracks with some very dark material. It takes a lot of skill to bring something like that off, and Grabenstein's up to the job. Check it out, along with Grabenstein's other books in this series. You won't be disappointed.

1 comment:

Gerard said...

Hey! I read that book!

The Ceepak character is a real square. He talks like the narrator from an instructional filmstrip. In the second novel, Mad Mouse, he says things like: "Then have a cold one for me, partner…But pace yourself. It takes a full hour for the effect of each beer to dissipate." and tickets his own partner for an illegal left turn.