Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rolling Thunder by Chris Grabenstein

Ceepak and Boyle are back, and better than ever! Chris Grabenstein hasn't had an easy time with his John Ceepak mysteries. He's now on this third publisher for this series. But, the new publisher is lucky to have these outstanding books. The last book, Mind Scrambler, took Danny Boyle and John Ceepak out of Sea Haven, New Jersey, and it was probably the weakest book in the series. But, Rolling Thunder brings them back to Sea Haven, and back to peak performance.

And, "peak performance" is a phrase Danny Boyle would appreciate. Boyle, the narrator of this series, is a cop working with his partner, John Ceepak, in the summer resort community of Sea Haven. As the book opens, Ceepak and Boyle are on amusement park duty on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, opening day for the brand-new, all-wood roller coaster, Big Paddy's Rolling Thunder. It starts off on a light note. "The day starts like so many others with John Ceepak: we bust an eight-year-old girl for wearing high heels." But, it doesn't take long for events to deterorate. On the very first ride for the VIPs, "Big Paddy" O'Malley's wife suffers a heart attack. Danny and Ceepak find themselves climbing the ride in order to perform CPR, a futile attempted rescue.

But, a few too many people seem happy with Mrs. O'Malley's death, and a couple of the adult children are blaming their father. The suspicions are brushed aside, until a beach bunny is found brutally murdered. So, once again, the resort community doesn't seem so innocent. Boyle relates the story of the murder investigation, and lessons learned from his mentor, John Ceepak.

It couldn't have been easy for Grabenstein to start this series a third time, but he did a marvelous job introducing the characters and setting again, without boring long-time readers. For those of us who have read the books since the beginning, it's fascinating to watch Danny's growth. Even he realizes he's becoming more like his teacher, Ceepak. Grabenstein brings back familiar characters, and has fun with an inside joke, the inclusion of Jen Forbus as a police officer, who used to blog. (Jen is a reviewer and blogger at Jen's Book Thoughts.) Danny admits he still has immature thoughts at times, but he has grown. Rolling Thunder is terrific, and it's great to go back to Sea Haven. Although so much of this is fun for long-time readers, there's no reason new readers couldn't pick up this book, and enjoy it. And, once you've discovered Ceepak and Boyle in Rolling Thunder, I predict you'll go back and read the earlier ones in one of my favorite series.

Chris Grabenstein's website is

Rolling Thunder by Chris Grabenstein. Pegasus Books, ©2010. ISBN 9781605980898 (hardcover), 304p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received my ARC from the author, in hopes I would review it.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm always interested in finding out how authors handle backstory several books into a series. It's a real balance, I think, between boring the return reader and not confusing the new reader! Sounds like Chris does a good job balancing the two.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Jen Forbus said...

Yay for the return of Ceepak! I am of course moping today because I want to be in NYC for the release party tonight!

This is such a fun outing with Ceepak and Boyle, so glad it saw print.

Thanks for the shout out, Lesa! I don't think I'll ever NOT smile when I think about it! I'm still amazed...:-)

Kay said...

I was so pleased with this book. I love this series and I loved being back in Sea Haven with all the guys. Jen's part was funny and the clever little nudge about her being a former blogger was priceless.

Glad to see the eye-catching cover color has returned as well. Thank goodness for Pegasus Publishing! Nice review, Lesa!

Author Chris said...

Thanks for the kind words, Lesa. You have been such a big supporter of the series since the beginning. Have a sunny, funderful day!

Lesa said...


Chris does a wonderful job with the backstory in this one. Just enough information so new readers aren't left out of the loop. So glad Pegasus picked up this series!

Lesa said...

Ah,Jen. I loved the inside jokes. And, I'm sure you are wishing you could be in NYC. But, just think, in some ways you'll be all over the country!

Lesa said...

Just a treat to have another Ceepak book, isn't it Kay? I can't understand why Ceepak and Boyle haven't caught on with more people. I just love that pairing.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Chris, and have a great release party tonight. Give a toast for Jen, OK? She's missing being there, tonight. Love Ceepak and Danny!

bermudaonion said...

I'm amazed that this is the 3rd publisher for this series, since I've only read good reviews of these books. I'd like to read this one just to see Jen's name in it! Great review!

Lesa said...

Oh, you're going to love Jen's role in this book, Kathy. I'm surprised it's the third publisher as well. There is nothing to say but good things about the series.

Bernadette in Australia said...

I only recently discovered this series (in audio format narrated by Jeff Woodman) and because I am slowly eeking them out to prolong my enjoyment I am not up to this one yet (am about to start Hell Hole). But I bought it as soon as it was released in audio format on Audible and will look forward to reading it in a while.

Lesa said...


I don't blame you one bit for wanting to save and savor the series. I'm glad you're enjoying them! It's one of my favorite series.