John Ceepak and Danny Boyle return in FUN HOUSE, the seventh book of Chris Grabenstein's award-winning series. This time Sea Haven is invaded by television, reality television to be exact. "'Think Jersey Shore meets Big Brother meets Survivor.'" The mayor is trying to milk the national attention for all it's worth while Ceepak and Boyle try to maintain order as a house full of twenty-something delinquents wreak havoc on Sea Haven. But when one of the house mates shows up dead, hanging amidst the stuffed prizes in a game booth, the stakes are raised and Ceepak and Boyle are once again, on the case.
We had to wait awhile for this new installment of the John Ceepak series, but FUN HOUSE is well worth the wait. It 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.
Whether you're an avid fan of reality TV or not, you can't help but recognize the references to actual stars making regular appearances in today's news headlines. Grabenstein's knack of highlighting the absurd is intensified with these characters and their antics: drunkin' brawls in a skee-ball center, food fights in a seafood restaurant, and a final challenge in the real "fun house."
A few characters from previous books return; if you're a dedicated series fan, you'll recognize the faces, but those unfamiliar with the series will have no problems appreciating FUN HOUSE on its own. Grabenstein provides just enough detail from earlier events to bring new readers up to speed without frustrating those readers who've already experienced them.
The John Ceepak mystery series remains one of my all-time favorites; Chris Grabenstein continues to roll out fun reading experiences layered with topical subjects and two of the most unique protagonists in the genre. If you have not checked out this series, now's a great time to do so.
While I haven't listened to the audio of FUN HOUSE yet (it comes out today), I will give a shout out for narrator Jeff Woodman who has narrated the entire series and is back again for FUN HOUSE. The John Ceepak series is not only one of my favorite series in print, it's also one of my favorite audiobook series.
FUN HOUSE is available today from Pegasus Crime in hardcover (ISBN: 9781605983363) and on audio from Audible.