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Whack a Mole by Chris Grabenstein
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Whack a Mole

by Chris Grabenstein

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The third in the carnival game themed series set on the Jersey (as in New Jersey) shore, this one fell flat. The premise was not entirely believable, but I can deal with that; it didn't bother me. What did bother me was the dialogue and the characterization. The dialogue was stilted and didn't come close to feeling natural to me. And John Ceepak came across as more of a caricature than as a fictional character, and a rather wooden caricature at that. The dead bodies (LOTS of dead body parts) were rather grisly, but even that, even “trophies” collected couldn't make this book interesting for me. ( )
  TooBusyReading | May 29, 2016 |
Rating: 4.6* of five

The Publisher Says: An innocent discovery on the beach in Sea Haven leads John Ceepak, the cop with an unshakeable code of honor, and his rookie partnet, the twentysomething wisecracker Danny Boyle, into the hunt for a long-dormant serial killer who might be crawling out of his hiding hole to strike again.

Like the relentless rodents in the Boardwalk arcade game, gruesome clues keep popping up all over the island as Ceepak (the former soldier who will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do) finds himself up against an adversary with an even stricter code, a code he rigidly enforces.

When the killer targets his next victim, the consequences become dire for Ceepak and Boyle. This is a game they have to win!

My Review: A solid four-star outing for that Dudley Do-Right of the Jersey Shore, John Ceepak, and his wing man young Danny Boyle. One thing's for sure, the villain of the piece gets a hellacious run-around before he's brought to justice.

The first two books in the series were good fun, with lots of wisecracking and silliness from Danny, along with some very Monk-like fun-making at Ceepak's expense. This outing has the fun, less of the fun-making; in fact, the shoe goes very much on the other foot this outing. I enjoyed that.

I also enjoyed the darker and more intense pace of this entry in the series. It serves the characters well because it's about them growing up and filling in their roles as a team. There's so much more to work with in a book-three mystery, an established sense of place and a mode of communication and a web of memories to draw on. Grabenstein does all of that, stays true to Ceepak's character in every way and manages to continue Danny Boyle's maturation and education without *whap*smack*bang*ing us to notice it. In this book, Danny's lessons are pricey and yet completely relatable. Don't get me wrong, I was still hollering at the Kindle, "DON'T YOU DO THAT! NO NO!! NOT THAT!" Danny wasn't listening. In a world with smartphones, I think I can be excused for mistaking the Kindle for an old Dick-Tracy-style two-way wrist radio.

That's my story, anyway.

By the end of the book, when the stakes were ratcheted higher than ever before, I was over-pushing the paging buttons and having to back-track. I was that wrapped up in the ending. You know how the Big Reveal is so often the Middlin' Reveal? Not this time. Nope. Big Reveal is a biiiig surprise.

The solution to the crime isn't too shabby, either. Heh.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. ( )
  richardderus | Jul 27, 2014 |
Third in the series. A bit more gruesome in the crime, but well written story about how to and how not to gather forensic evidence. Danny Boyle is growing in competence, and Ceepak is learning to live with some of the traumas from his service as an MP in Iraq. ( )
  tututhefirst | Jan 20, 2014 |
Third in the John Ceepak series of novels, loosely labeled police procedurals. I read the first two and very much enjoyed their humorous undertone. This one is much, much darker with graphic descriptions of the dismembered victims of a Sea Haven serial killer who buried his victims twenty-plus years ago and is now leaving parts of their bodies, polaroids, and religious hints around the island during the height of tourist season. It sets a very different tone for the series.

Narrated by Danny, the erstwhile summer cop taken under Boy Scout Ceepak’s wings, Danny is a very naive Archie to Ceepak’s ultra-pure Wolfe. Jen has a wonderful review that summarizes all you need to know about the plot. [http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/36752920]

The characters are what make this series different. Ceepak is morally pure and can’t tell a lie. Danny is less wholesome but a more real sidekick who often runs interference for John, sometimes lying to protect feelings or help someone. Several reviewers have suggested we need more Ceepaks. I would suggest it’s the Danny’s that make life tolerable. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
With Danny Boyle now a full-time cop and still with his partner John Ceepak murder is guaranteed to occur again in this third chapter in the Jersey seaside mysteries. Danny is growing up and developing as a man and Ceepak is starting to soften from his early rigid behavior. They haven't changed drastically but you can see the character development in this third installment.

Highly recommended ( )
  bookswoman | Sep 14, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786718188, Hardcover)

John Ceepak and Danny Boyle returns with the hunt for a long-dormant serial killer who might be ready to strike again. An innocent discovery on the beach in Sea Haven pits Ceepak against a killer with a code just as rigid as his own. When the killer targets his next victim, the consequences becomes dire for Ceepak and Boyle — this is a game they must win.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:02 -0400)

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