John Ceepak Mystery #7
What if a hit reality TV show like "Jersey Shore" set up production in Sea Haven? What if hitting the gym, tanning, and doing a little laundry weren't the only things the contestants got into?
Ceepak and Danny have to babysit the buff and boozy kids partying it up in a rental house near the beach for TV's FUN HOUSE while simultaneously trying to stop the rude and rowdy kids from breaking the law up and down the beach.
But even Ceepak and Danny can't stop one young cast member from being murdered—and others from being threatened with the same fate.
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Pegasus Books (Distributed by W.W. Norton & Co.) Hardcover, May 2012, ISBN: 978-1605983363
"Chris Grabenstein's clever Jersey Shore mysteries are named for amusement park rides and games of chance, so it was only a matter of time before Fun House made the cut. Danny Boyle, the smart-aleck young cop who narrates these books, actually takes his new girlfriend to an old-fashioned Fun House on the boardwalk. But to his neighbors in Sea Haven, that's the name of a new reality show being filmed in their resort town. Accurately described as a mash-up of Jersey Shore, Big Brother and Survivor, the show chronicles the bad behavior of some young idiots who've been installed in a beach cottage to play moronic games like Etiquette Competition, which rewards the player with the worst table manners. When illegal drugs appear on the set, so do Danny and his partner, John Ceepak, only to find themselves part of the show. Clearly, it took a lot of dedicated TV-watching to turn out this perfect satire."
—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
"'Sunny, funderful' Sea Haven, New Jersey, is having a great season, thanks in large part to Fun House, a reality TV show that borrows the worst parts of Jersey Shore and Survivor. Police officers John Ceepak and Danny Boyle have become accidental TV stars by arresting a drunken Paulie "The Thing" Braciole, a self-identified "Guido" from Staten Island whose signature move is twitching his massive, steroid- enhanced pecs. But then Paulie is murdered. Ceepak and Boyle quickly target Paulie's steroid supplier for the crime, but soon the chaos produced by a drug-dealing motorcycle gang, traditional organized crime types, the producers of Fun House, and an Ohio police force recruiting Ceepak roil the already choppy law-enforcement waters. Grabenstein's newest Sea Haven novel enriches the formula of summer, Springsteen lyrics, deep-fried junk food, and alcohol-fueled antics with a knowing, cynical, insider's take on reality TV. He also continues to make his tales harder-edged and his heroes more world-weary. Fun House is still a beach read, but it's an even better beach read than previous installments."
"The cast and crew of a reality TV show, Fun House, invade Sea Haven, N.J., in Anthony Award-winner Grabenstein's amusing seventh mystery featuring straight-arrow cop and Iraqi War vet John Ceepak (after 2010's Rolling Thunder). The reality show soon spills into another kind of realism: murder. First, someone shoots TV star and cultural icon Paulie Braciole (aka "The Thing") through the head, then Thomas Hess (aka Skeletor), while away from his drug-dealing, Nazi-type motorcycle gang "brothers," likewise becomes a single-gunshot victim. As a third target is announced, Fun House ratings soar. The show must go on, and it's up to banged-up-Toyota-driving Ceepak and his wiseacre sidekick, Danny Boyle, who provides a hipper, Springsteen-quoting alternative to his senior partner's Charlie Chan-like persona, to put everything together..."
"Moves like lightning."
—The New York Post (read the full review)
"Chris Grabenstein has so much fun lampooning the barely disguised cast of Jersey Shore that even those with only the vaguest acquaintance with Snooki and The Situation will enjoy it, too. The overseers who shape the 'reality' take sleaze to a whole new level, capitalizing on the death of a cast member to produce a hyped-up funeral special and America's-Most-Wanted-style plea for help finding the killer. This would make a great beach read."
—The Charlotte Observer
"Chris Grabenstein's seventh Ceepak novel excels at weaving a serious plot with well-placed humor and a breezy Jersey attitude. This is the approach Grabenstein has taken in each novel in this series, and Fun House is equally action-packed, poignant, and funny—sometimes all in the same paragraph. Fun House gives the Anthony Award-winning Grabenstein a chance to explore the absurdity of celebrity making that often glorifies bad behavior. The relationship between Ceepak and Danny has grown into a real partnership as Danny learns about police work, honor and duty from the veteran."
—Oline Cogdill, Sun Sentinel
"If you haven't read these mysteries, I hope you take the time to try one of the wittiest series around. I've often compared Ceepak and Boyle to Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. It's a series narrated by the bright, cocky sidekick. There's humor along with a sharp poke in the eye at our culture and the obsession with reality TV. At the same time, Danny and Ceepak take their jobs seriously. They are determined to find a killer, and it doesn't matter who the victim was. Every victim deserves justice.
How do you promote an intelligent mystery series that is also witty? Chris Grabenstein's books cannot be compared to Janet Evanovich or others who write humorous mysteries. The outrageous activities in this book have everything to do with the filming of a reality show, and nothing to do with incompetent detectives. These are not fluffy mysteries. These are serious murder mysteries that are set in a resort community, hence the carnival rides on the covers.
Try Grabenstein's Fun House. It's my chance to introduce you to two of my favorite characters, John Ceepak and Danny Boyle, and one of my favorite authors."
—Lesa Holstine, Lesa's Book Critiques Blog (read the full review)
"[Fun House]has all the elements of a great Chris Grabenstein book: intelligent humor, rich sense of place, plenty of Springstein references, fantastic characters and a puzzling mystery. The cement that really holds the wonderful pieces of Grabenstein's books together, however, is the relationship between his main characters. That relationship continues to develop—as do Danny and Ceepak—and it's what keeps fans of the series coming back."
—Jen Forbus, Jen's Book Thoughts Blog (read the full review)
"The books in the Ceepak series are always packed with a wonderful mix of mystery and mirth, but the one-liners and wry observations really fly in Fun House...both longtime fans of the series and newcomers alike should be heading 'down the shore' and queuing up for a chance to experience the marvelous adventure that awaits them in Chris Grabenstein's Fun House."
—Elizabeth White, Book Reviews by Elizabeth A. White Blog (read the full review)
"I can think of few better ways to herald the beginning of summer than to crack the binding of a new John Ceepak mystery by Chris Grabenstein...Grabenstein balances action, humor and mystery in equal measure to create yet another fine beach read that evokes the scent of suntan lotion and the grim reality of what lays just a block or two beyond the vacation fun of the boardwalk. And the author is not averse to advancing his ongoing storyline with a change or two in the professional and personal lives of both Ceepak and Boyle. Fans of mysteries and police procedurals will find Fun House to be a fun ride, indeed." 5 Stars!
—Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter