Friday, May 10, 2013

Book Review: Free Fall by Chris Grabenstein (John Ceepak #8)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Ceepak and Danny as always, suspenseful climax
Cons: Plot meanders a bit at the beginning
The Bottom Line:
Restful summer town
Plagued again by a murder
Love the main duo

You’ll Fall for Free Fall (Yes, Even I’m Groaning Over That One)

It’s another sunny, funderful day in the resort town of Sea Haven, New Jersey.  Well, except for the murder that pops up, of course.  After all, if it weren’t for that murder, we’d have no reason to visit Detective John Ceepak and his partner Danny Boyle.  And that would be a shame because Free Fall is the eighth book about these two and they continue to shine as characters.

It’s the beginning of summer tourist season, and Ceepak and Danny are temporarily working separate beats.  That’s why Danny is on patrol when a 911 call comes in.  One of his friends is involved, and Danny arrives in time to rescue Christine.  But is she really as innocent as she claims?

Meanwhile, Ceepak’s dad is back in town to operate the new free fall ride on the boardwalk.  He claims to have turned over a new leaf, but he is also very interested in getting his hands on “his share” of the money his ex-wife inherited.  Can Ceepak and Danny deal with him and solve the murder that soon happens?

As the carnage from Hurricane Sandy began to die down last fall, I began to wonder how the author would deal with it.  After all, Sea Haven, while fictional, would be directly in the path of the storm.  But this book is set months afterward as the town is back on it’s feet and ready for the next tourist season.  Not sure I completely buy it, but I’m sure the book was already written when the storm hit.  And Danny, our narrator, has promised to tell us the story some time.  Maybe the next book will be a flashback?  Anyway, I’m willing to go along for the ride.

Unfortunately, the ride started out a little slowly.  I was actually wondering where the author was going with things as the story just kind of plodded along.  Once things got going, they really swung into high gear, and I had a hard time putting the book down. And yes, everything was important in the end.  The climax might be a tad over the top but was completely believable and page turning.  It’s a case of characters driving plot.

And the characters do drive this book.  Ceepak and Danny have always been strong characters, and have an unique relationship as their best qualities continue to rub off on each other.  They develop more here, and the mutual respect in their partnership is such fun to read.  Oh, Ceepak is certainly the better detective, but you can tell he trusts Danny.  Don’t believe me?  Just look at the climax.

The book is mostly filled with new characters, and they are wonderfully drawn as well.  And as the book gets going, that really helped draw me further into the story.

Danny continues to narrate for us in first person present.  It’s an interesting narrative format, but one I’ve gotten used to over the books.

Ceepak and Danny are still the big draw for me.  I fly through the pages, which always leaves me sad since I now have to wait for my next visit to Sea Haven.  If you haven’t met this duo yet, I highly recommend you do so today.  And they are best read in order to appreciate the characters, so save Free Fall until you’ve read the previous books.

Looking for those previous books?  Here are the John Ceepak Mysteries in order.

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