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chris grabenstein

John Ceepak Mystery #5

Mind Scrambler Trust none of what you hear
And less of what you see
This is what will be, this is what will be.
—Bruce Springsteen, "Magic"

Copyright, Bruce Springsteen, 2007

John Ceepak and Danny Boyle are making the rounds in Atlantic City (interviewing witnesses for the one crime left unsolved at the end of HELL HOLE) when Danny runs into his former crush, Katie. She's working as a nanny for the children of a magician named Richard Rock, the headliner at one of the big casinos. When Katie is found strangled to death backstage, it is up to Ceepak and Danny to find out who killed her. Their lives and the lives of others depend on it.

Read the first chapter!


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It's All Good Tank Top

Ceepak Shop

Minotaur Books Hardcover, May 2009, ISBN: 978-0312382315

Atlantic City Pictures

Advice given to Ceepak and Danny from a performer on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City: "The magician not only holds all the cards, it was his deck to begin with."



"Grabenstein's appealing fifth John Ceepak mystery (after 2008's Hell Hole) finds ultra-straight-arrow cop Ceepak and his laid-back partner, Danny Boyle, on leave in Atlantic City. Soon after a former girlfriend of Boyle's, the nanny for a smarmy stage magician's children, approaches Boyle for advice, she winds up dead in a bizarre S&M ritual before she can explain the problem. The local police deputize the two Sea Haven, NJ, cops as more corpses pile up. Ceepak and Boyle aren't too surprised that everyone is lying in a murder case involving professional illusionists with nasty secrets. Grabenstein has a good eye for the grit under a glitzy setting and a good ear for character-defining accents, including Boyle's wry narrative voice. In less skillful hands, Ceepak might come across as a mere hybrid of Sherlock Holmes and Dudley Do-Right, but the author succeeds in making his hero's earnest devotion to a rigid code of behavior both believable and moving." (Mar.)
   —Publishers Weekly

"Grabenstein's sharply arch prose and steady plotting makes Ceepak's fifth (Hell Hole, 2008, etc.) compulsively readable."

"I honestly do not know how Chris Grabenstein manages to make every Ceepak book better than the one before it. I read every one thinking there is NO WAY it gets any better than THIS! And yet Grabenstein tops himself every time!"
   —Jen's Book Thoughts (read the full review here)

"I have been a long time advocate of these books. After Book Three I called it the best series I was reading. I think these books work so well because of wish fulfillment and identification. We want to be John Ceepak, but we are Danny Boyle."
   —The Hungry Detective

"The latest John Ceepak investigation (see Hell Hole) is a terrific entry as the by the book cop and his breaking the rules partner may be off duty, but quickly become embroiled in a murder mystery. The story line is fast-paced from the onset, but it is the camaraderie between the two polar opposite cops that once again make for an entertaining tale."
   —The Mystery Gazette

"Mind Scrambler is only the fifth book in the Ceepak series. If you've missed the earlier books, now is the time to start the series and catch up. Chris Grabenstein is writing about two of the most interesting, complex characters in crime fiction right now. So, I'll end this as I started. If you're not reading Chris Grabenstein's mysteries, why aren't you?"
   —Lesa Holstine (read the full review here)

"Grabenstein proves that in the hands of a real pro, the combination of mystery and magic can result in a sure winner."
   —Mystery Scene Magazine

"Pairing cops of vastly different personalities is nothing new, but Chris Grabenstein continues to make the device work in Mind Scrambler... Grabenstein writes with wicked flair, Ceepak and Boyle are memorable creations and Atlantic City becomes an important character itself. But the plot's the thing, and Grabenstein excels at fashioning an involving one."
   —The Richmond Times Dispatch (read the full review here)

"...the most significant aspect of the book is that Grabenstein demonstrates he is not above removing sympathetic characters from the board (or the boardwalk, as the case may be), adding an extra layer of suspense not only to Mind Scrambler but also to those installments of the series yet to come."
   —Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter.com