Friday, May 03, 2013

Free Fall by Chris Grabenstein

No one can say I don't love Chris Grabenstein's John Ceepak mysteries. Or, as I think of them, Ceepak/Boyle because during the course of the series, Danny Boyle, the narrator, has matured and come into his own. Whether or not Free Fall turns out to be the last in the series, it could beautifully wrap it up. In some ways, the father/son imagery ends with this story.

This series started with Danny Boyle as a young summer cop in Sea Haven, New Jersey, a resort town. John Ceepak was a veteran of the Iraq war with a code of honor. He wouldn't lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do. And, he taught that same code to a wisecracking Danny. The two of them went through some rough times together, as Danny lost a girlfriend, shot a couple people, saved some lives. But, as Free Fall starts, Ceepak is Chief of Detectives, and Danny has a new partner, until Ceepak needs assistance on a case.

Once again, because Danny knows almost everyone in Sea Haven, he knows someone when he's called to a house on a domestic situation. Christine Lemonopolous, a home health aide, is involved in a cat fight with the mother of her current patient. Danny investigates, leaves the scene, and ends up at a call again that night when Christine is found sleeping in her car with no place to go. For Christine, it only goes down hill from there, when she's accused of killing an elderly patient. Ceepak and Danny believe in her innocence, but they're going to have to discover if it's one of the patients loving family members who might have killed him.

Ceepak's problems with a family doesn't end with a murder investigation. Despite previous problems, Ceepak's father, Joe Ceepak, has returned to town to run the Free Fall ride at the mayor's amusement park. He's an abusive drunk who wants a share of the money his ex-wife inherited after their divorce. Ceepak is determined to stand between his mother and his father and protect her as he did as a teenager.

Chris Grabenstein's Ceepak/Boyle mysteries always had a light side to them with Danny's wit and his boyishness. Danny's grown now, and, under the tutelage of his mentor, he takes his job seriously. The latest book in the series is a mystery in which dysfunctional families turn deadly. Free Fall isn't the typical Grabenstein mystery, an investigation of a serious subject, murder, but with a twist of humor.As one who always appreciated the wisecracking Danny, calling the series reminiscent of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, it's sad to see the loss of innocence and humor. The humor is lacking in this one, however it seems appropriately so. Danny Boyle has grown up. Whether or not Grabenstein decides to end the series, it would seem to have taken a turn.

Chris Grabenstein's website is

Free Fall by Chris Grabenstein. Pegasus Crime. 2013. ISBN 9781605984759 (hardcover), 318p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Karen C said...

An excellent, thought provoking review.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Karen!

Jane R said...

Sounds like a good series, so I've already reserved the first book at my local library. Thanks for the introduction!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Jane. I love this series.

caite said...

I love Nero Wolf..,which is maybe why I love these books too.