Fun House: A John Ceepak Mystery (Pegasus Crime)
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2012
Chris Grabenstein created an intriguing character in the first book of this series, "Tilt-A-Whirl" named Ceepak. The character has been nicely developed in the six books which precede Fun House, set in a town called Sea Haven, on the Jersey Shore.
In Fun House, which brings Ceepak back after a two year hiatus, Grabenstein takes a look at the goings on of the currently popular reality tv. Not only does MTV's "Jersey Shore" get spoofed, but some of the other popular shows as well. This all occurs while several murders are committed.
Grabenstein has a great sense of humor, but still creates suspense and while I thought I had the murder mystery solved, a twist proved to me that I in fact should not try to solve murder mysteries.
A great read for everyone, I only hope Ceepak makes a return sooner than two years.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2012
I got home from work at 4:30 and began reading at 4:31 and started to have fun in minutes. What do politicians and reality TV show actors have in common? They live in fantasy land! And this is certainly the case for the typical denizens of a house in a New Jersey beach resort who are being manipulated in every way possible by a TV crew for a reality show called Fun House. This is done to bring out out the worst characteristics of these young people and to engage the emotions of the viewing audience. It helps to keeps these actors on edge and out of control by one means or another, mainly beer.

So John Ceepak and sidekick Danny Boyle whose mental wisecracks keep me laughing in my own personal funhouse, have to give these (there is no nice word for them) fools a reality check. These leads to TV time for both of them which is unwelcome but tolerated and increasing involvement in the world of entertainment and unfortunately murder. Of course for some in the business of fame and fortune death is a small price to pay. Too bad Ceepak and Boyle don't see it that way.

The pace is rapid. The plotting is excellent, interesting and cohesive. The story pokes gentle fun at reality TV and it made me laugh out loud.

Don't miss this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2012
This is one great series - and esp. good for summertime. Ceepak is now up-to-date with a "Jersey-Shore" reality TV take off. Fun, light, yet a good mystery. Grabenstein is a talented writer, and once you "move in" with this series, you feel right at home. I hope there's a new one every summer for many years!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 28, 2012
The return, after a short hiatus, of John Ceepak and Danny Boyle, the odd couple cops in Sea Haven, NJ,, combines satire and murder mystery. Ceepak, of course, is the straight arrow, do-it-by-the book character, while Boyle serves as his junior partner, asking questions and narrating the tale. And what a story it is.

It seems a TV production company chooses that fictional seaside town to house its reality show, "Fun House," in which six contestants vie for a quarter of million dollar prize. Unfortunately, the game encourages rowdie-ism, sex, and lots of beer drinking along the way. When things get out of hand, Ceepak and Boyle are assigned to head up a security detail to control things. But events turn from bad to worse when a cast member is murdered and they have to look for the murderer.

Latest in the series, this novel exhibits all the excellent characteristics of its predecessors: an unusual plot and lots of wise-cracking humor. These are always fun reads, and this one as well is recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2012
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. There is a comfortable similarity of form to the books, each of which is set along the Jersey Shore in the fictional but readily familiar resort town of Sea Haven. Policeman Danny Boyle is the first-person, present-tense narrator of each installment. He stands in the shadows of the more competent, permanently square and squared-away Ceepak, who has a code of conduct and honor that commands respect from all who he might encounter, including Boyle and the reader.
If the familiar form of the series is what keeps readers coming back, it is the evolving substance of the story that keeps them reading. FUN HOUSE, the latest installment, follows this pattern, as reality television comes to Sea Haven. The show is "Fun House," and it features 10 contestants --- five males, five females --- who move into Sea Haven and form alliances of sex and convenience with the hope of being the last person standing in order to win a small fortune. Grabenstein makes the participants just stereotypical enough to be familiar, and just obnoxious enough to be entertaining. So when the most grating of the bunch is found murdered in a staged position, it is somewhat difficult to be emotionally invested in the dearly departed. Still, Ceepak is tasked with the investigation.

Meanwhile, the ratings for "Fun House" skyrocket, as does the homicide rate when another victim's body turns up along with a warning --- and a threat of more to come. Ceepak observes, questions, calculates and concludes, while refusing to let a tempting offer in a faraway land called "Ohio" distract him from the job at hand.

Boyle continues to grow into the job, though his attention span is not as long or deep as Ceepak's. He finds himself on the wrong side of an unrequited love affair, and, as one might expect of a healthy twenty-something male at the beach, his eyes wander to the tanned fauna along the beach when he might be better served to focus on the job. But as FUN HOUSE demonstrates, Boyle has learned well from Ceepak over the course of the last several books and, by the end of the novel, demonstrates conclusively that he possesses the right stuff for the job.

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.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 1, 2012
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2012
This is the latest in the Ceepak Mysteries that take place in Sea Haven, New Jersey along the Jersey shore. The Ceepak mysteries written by award winning author Chris Grabenstein are captivating. I was hooked from the first one Tilt A Whirl. The books heroes are John Ceepak a former Marine who plays by the book...always. And Danny Boyle a bit of a goof off...almost always. Their point counterpoint is extremely well done and they learn (reluctantly at first) from each other. The stories are extremely well written and captivating. It is difficult to put them down.
In this latest outing Ceepak and Danny must guard a group of participants in a reality TV show. One thinks "Jersey Shore" but Mr. Grabenstein takes it far beyond that paragon of poor taste. Although he does skewer reality shows and politicians along the way. The story is well plotted with enough twists, turns, and shifts to keep you interested, keep you reading, and keep you guessing.
But to me the real strength is in Mr. Grabenstein's characterization. His characters are well drawn. At the end of the book I reluctantly say goodbye to Ceepak and Danny and eagerly await their next outing. They seem almost real to the reader and they are people that you'd love to hang out with and wish you knew. I enjoyed the unfolding of their relationship over the series of books from the first where Danny was a high school volunteer to the latest where they are fully partners. I'm glad I started at the beginning and read through series so I could see the character development but the books do stand on their own.
They are the kind of books that you wish you hadn't read so you could once again have the joy of reading them for the first time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Sea Haven, New Jersey has become the site for Fun House, the hot new reality show. Think of it as Jersey Shore meets Big Brother. The twenty something contestants live in one house and vote each other off between drinking and bed hopping.

Police officers Danny Boyle and John Ceepak have earned an unintentional supporting role. One of the contestants has been caught with steroids, and his dealer has ties to someone they've faced in the past. A sting operation is set up, but then someone dies.

Meanwhile, Ceepak is thinking of taking a job closer to his home town. Will he take it or will he stay in Sea Haven?

This book has quite a bit of fun poking at the reality show genre, and I enjoyed that. I might have enjoyed it even more if I watched some of the shows referenced. Then again, I'd have to put up with the foul language that permeates the book. I can't argue with realism, but boy did it bother me.

On the other hand, I love Danny and Ceepak, and it's always a pleasure to spend time with them watching their relationship continue to grow.

The plot was a mix of surprising twists and twists I saw coming. But even if I knew where things were going, I was left breathless seeing how Danny and Ceepak would save the day.

All told, this is another fun trip to a resort community with a dark side. Fans of the series won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2012
After a layoff of a couple of years, Grabenstein is back with Cepak and his buddy (and narrator) Danny Boyle. After the awful mess of Mind Scrambler which wallowed in the death of a series character, and unnecesary change of locale, and eye-rolling preaching about hypocrisy in high places (never seen that story before, nope) we are back to the Cepak and Boyle we know and love, on their home ground with a great new mystery. Funny send up of a certain worthless reality show featuring Jersey boys and girls, and lots of hometown characters making an appearance (as well as call backs to former books like Hell Hole). After one of the cast of the reality show is murdered, Boyle and Cepak do their best to prevent more cast members from dying, all the while battling their own Mayor who thinks the filming is a godsend to the community. Lots of fun tension and mystery here, although I guessed the killer (as usual, most Cepak mysteries aren't that hard to figure out) it was a pretty good reveal. Rolling Thunder was pretty good and a welcome follow up to the terrible Mind Scrambler, but this one really seals the deal. Thumbs up!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2012
Grabenstein continues his wonderful Ceepak series with Fun House. Two things I really like about this series: 1) The main character is not the narrator; we see everything through the eyes of his sidekick, Danny; 2) Ceepak is a noble person. I agree with a fellow reviewer: the profanity was disconcerting and jarring. Usually, profanity is not a part of the novels in this series. The plot is good, as is the writing. It's a fun read which moves quickly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I absolutely LOVE Chris Grabenstein's John Ceepak series. You can feel the sand between your toes, smell the cotton candy and suntan lotion and hear the waves. Extremely well written with quality mysteries and lots of laughs thrown in. Start with the first novel and follow John's partner, Danny's journey to manhood. These are they type of books that you can read several times and still enjoy the story.
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