Reviewing: "Whack A Mole: A John Ceepak Mystery" by Chris Grabenstein
It is summer again on Sea Haven, NJ and things start innocently enough. Danny Boyle is now a full time police officer and remains partnered with John Ceepak. As Ceepak finds romance, Danny’s babe, Kate has left and moved to California. With Katie gone, Danny is coping as best he can, often finding just something to do to occupy himself. Such is the idea to go with Ceepak on their day off to return a ring that Ceepak found in the sand while using his metal detector.
The ring at some time belonged to a Brian Kladko who graduated from P. J. Johnson High School in Edison back in 1983. Danny and Ceepak meet the owner of the ring who says he gave it to a Lisa Franco who was his girlfriend at the time. She disappeared back in the summer of 1983 and Brian Kladko never got a chance to ask for it back. He may have moved on with a wife and kids, but it becomes clear very quickly that Lisa might have died that summer.
Quickly, like some demented game of whack a mole, clues begin to pop up all over the island, primarily in the sand. As the town leadership tries desperately to keep the media ignorant, Ceepak and Boyle attempt to stop a madman from killing again.
Third in the mystery series after “Tilt A Whirl” and “Mad Mouse” this book continues the slow shift for Danny from wide eyed kid playing cop to a compete police officer. As he shifts, so too does Ceepak who is becoming less isolated as a romantic relationship begins blossom. Fortunately, while the characters may evolve some, rock steady is Ceepak's code and Danny’s faith in Ceepak.
As in the early novels of the series, “Whack A Mole” is set in the present tense. It features plenty of action, humor and clues to keep the seasoned mystery reader entertained and guessing right to the end. There is a reason author Chris Grabenstein has won the Anthony award and others-- good mystery stories.
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