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 www.chrisgrabenstein.com
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.