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Tilt-a-Whirl (John Ceepak Mystery #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,819 Ratings  ·  328 Reviews
There isn't much sun in the fun when a billionaire real estate tycoon is found murdered on the Tilt-A-Whirl at a seedy seaside amusement park in the otherwise quiet summer tourist town of Sea Haven. John Ceepak, a former MP just back from Iraq, has just joined the Sea Haven police department. The job offer came from an old army buddy who hoped to give Ceepak at least a sum
Paperback, 321 pages
Published May 15th 2006 by Carroll & Graf (first published September 20th 2005)
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Richard Derus
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Rating: 3.75* of five

The Publisher Says: There isn't much sun in the fun when a billionaire real estate tycoon is found murdered on the Tilt-A-Whirl at a seedy seaside amusement park in the otherwise quiet summer tourist town of Sea Haven. John Ceepak, a former MP just back from Iraq, has just joined the Sea Haven police department. The job offer came from an old army buddy who hoped to give Ceepak at least a summer's worth of rest and relaxation to help him forget the horrors of war. Instead, C
Feb 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery, 5-0, 2012
If someone combined the DNA of Captain America and Dudley Do-Right to create a superior human being, then John Ceepak would probably be the result. And then we would have to rise up and slay him for making the rest of us look so bad.

Ceepak was with the military police in the army, but a bad tour in Baghdad has left him with a phobia about driving. He’s now a police officer in a vacation resort town called Sea Haven where a young part-time cop and local boy named Danny Boyle is assigned as his pa
Review written November 4, 2016

3.8 Stars - Surprisingly entertaining. A good listening, I truly enjoyed and will continue this series.

A $3 light and funny police mystery and a serial opener. — 8:18 hrs audiobook narrated by Jeff Woodman.

Sea Haven, New Jersey US.

« John Ceepak, a former MP just back from Iraq, has joined the Sea Haven police department. The job offer came from an old Army buddy who hoped to give Ceepak at least a summer's wo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this one ... a lot!

Where to begin after saying that ... I spent a few decades in the Garden State (ages 2 - 35), though have only been Down the Shore a few times for day trips; still, I've heard enough stories to know that instead of laying things on thick here, the author's portrayal was actually understated, if anything.

I'll start with the plot, where the only "fault" I really found was in believing that municipal cops would end up having any say in investigating such a high-p
A fun story with a good mystery that kept me changing my suspicions and suspects throughout. Ceepack is a retired MP turned small seaside town policeman who has a very strict code of right and wrong coupled with an extremely mellow personality. Ceepack and his summer apprentice must get to the bottom of an ever changing murder investigation that has too many odd suspects. A fun and light read that was good from the very start. This is the first in a series that I will definitely be revisiting.

Vfields Don't touch my happy!
Thank you to WhatAStrangeDuck for the encouragement about Tilt the Whir. It was a surprisingly humorous murder mystery. I've read many mysteries and I don't think I've ever read one from this point-of-view. Ceepack is both complex and simple at the same time. Danny was my kind of guy. Heck, I kinda enjoyed each character and even though nothing is new it was overall a hoot! Since I spent many summer weekends in that kind of NJ seaside town it was even more captivating
Feb 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-series
Nice story. I like the main characters. I got the impression I was reading a script for a TV series. That's neither bad nor good, just what I was thinking as a read it. If it was a TV series, it would be one that I would certainly watch. But it wasn't compelling enough for me to want to immediately seek out the second book of the series.
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookshelf, 2016
A very good mystery with great characters and lots of surprises. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series!
Morgan Mussell
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
John Ceepak and Danny Boyle, two Sea Haven, NJ cops, are breakfasting at the Pancake Palace, discussing a tricycle theft - the usual sort of summer crime in town - when a 12 year old girl runs up the street in a bloody dress screaming that someone killed her father, Reginald Hart. Someone emptied a 9mm clip into Hart as he sat beside his daughter on a tilt a whirl car in the Sunnyside Playland before it was open. Hart was a billionaire real estate tycoon though many called him a slumlord.

Jul 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
How to describe it? It's amusing, but it's more. It's not just "fun." There is suffering and grief in this book - which kind of surprised me after reading the wit from the very likable Danny's narration. There is fear and betrayal. Which helps the reader to better appreciate the fun, the hope, the courage of both part-time cop Danny and "Boy Scout" Ceepak. Ceepak seems to be Danny's mentor, yet he has a way of making Danny feel he's a valid contributor to the case they're working on; they make a ...more
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
First ... thank you to Mark Baker for letting me know about this mystery series from a recently discovered author (see the fabulous Mr. Lemoncello Library series).

More importantly, I've found a new mystery series to delve into this spring! I couldn't be more excited as I think I've got a crush on John Ceepak, the former military man now cop/detective. The story is told by his partner, Danny Boyle, and we are immediately introduced to the mystery of the murder of a millionaire right in front of
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Stumbled on this little gem of a series thanks to NPR Books. Found the first 3 in the series on sale for 99 cents in the Kindle store and am already on #3 (Whack-a-Mole) thanks to good writing, tight plotting, twists in just the right places & two very likable & complex main characters. The setting, the fictional New Jersey shore town Sea Haven, is perfectly described- so much so I could close my eyes and see the lights & smell the smells of the boardwalk. Yes, it was a touch predict ...more
Mickey Hoffman
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
With a solid plot, interesting characters and a few very funny passages, there's nothing not to like here. I'm also very happy to read a mystery without serial killers and pages of gore.
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it
This series is one of those crossover genre- not completely a cop/detective category but far more entering into flip comedy/humor modern. Nearly every paragraph and at times four or five analogies or portions of reference per page are tv laugh line supreme. And the star of the show, IMHO, was the beach town in NJ, our Sea Haven- far more than the characters of the tale.

Every joke imaginable about the beachy rhyming names, junk sold as mementos, every manner of fried food emporiums, swea
Jennifer Daniel
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Krista, Suzanne
Finally a detective/mystery series that does not involve cats or grandma's in sweaters who make fruit muffins. An engaging, gritty page turner that twisted and turned as much as a tilt a whirl. And the main cop, John Ceepak, it's crazy but I am getting the hots for a fictional character.
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great start to a new series for me. John and Danny make a great pair. I also loved the narration of the audio book. 4 stars and will be continuing the series.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
★ ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up)
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
Danny Boyle grew up in Sea Haven, NJ -- a tourist trap of a town on the Jersey Shore. He likes the life -- hanging out with the friends he's had since high school, goofing around, eating and drinking more than he should. He's got a nice Summer gig -- working as a Part-Time police officer. The downside is his partner -- John Ceepak, an Iraq War vet and former MP. He's so by the book, he might as well have written it. T
Paul Jacques
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book! Engaging from the very first paragraph. I am totally addicted to to the whole series. I am on number 3 right now and it is equally as good (as was number 2). Huge fan. Funny, with cool plot twists and the relationship between Danny and Ceepak is so great.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book and it was my first by Grabenstein and it wont be my last. I really liked the characters and get they were developed well And enjoyed the read and cant wait to read more.

I gave the book an A+ or 5 stars.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Truly delightful audio.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, light beach read. The audiobook narration is excellent. It's goofy and the characters can be over the top, but I found it endearing and the mystery interesting.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok detective book and a decent paperback to take to the beach. Story told from the perspective of a YA cop in training, and it made the writing seem a bit immature. The main character John Ceepak is a bit of a boy scout. However I would not recommend this to a YA even though it is narrated from the view of a young cop. Subject crimes are not something I would expose a Teen to. There is a series of books featuring the detective but just not sure was that interested.
Melanie Lewis
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible-books
Loved it! I'm totally smitten by John Ceepak, what an awesome character. Together with his partner in crime, Danny Boyle, they're a great double act. I thought the story was clever, and I was getting confused when they seemed to have it all wrapped up about 3 hours into the audio book, when it's an 8 hour story. Well, I wasn't expecting that to happen! No spoilers here, if you want to know you'll have to read/listen to the book yourself. It's worth it and I highly recommend the investment!
Jerry Hilts
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
So this book won an award for "Best First Mystery"? With such two dimensional characters, and hackneyed, obvious plot, I can't imagine why.

Maybe the series gets better, but I'm wary of investing the time to find out.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
Hated it, but then I read the bulk of it on a day when I was disturbed about something similar in real life, so not the story's fault. Started out funny too --I was liking it.
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sea Haven, New Jersey's quiet fun in the sun is suddenly shattered when Ashley Hart comes screaming down the street covered in blood. John Ceepak having newly joined the Sea Haven police and his partner Danny Boyle, a part time summer cop, rush to help her and find she has been the sole witness to her father's brutal murder on the Tilt a Whirl at the town's seedy amusement park.

Ceepak, a cop 24/7 who follows his own personal moral code leads the investigation assisted by Boyle. Soon they find t
Tilt-A-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein is the first book of the John Ceepak police procedural mystery series, set in a contemporary New Jersey seaside resort. John Ceepak returned from MP duty in Iraq to join the police force headed by his pal Cosgrove, a fellow former MP. Danny Boyle, narrator of the story, works for the police as a "summer job" - light duties, no weapon. Up until partnering with John Ceepak, Danny took his summer job as lightly as the term implies; easy pocket money for drinking of ...more
Arietta Bryant
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, audio-books
I downloaded this as a free audio book from Audible. I was not disappointed and would have been happy to pay a couple of quid for it.
An interesting take on the buddy-cop / detective novel, this is the first in the series and I will probably give the others a listen eventually.
I felt that some of the darker moments of the plot could have been given a bit more space and time rather than feeling like we, the readers ( and the characters) skipped through them and out the other side unchanged (I'll s
Erik Weber
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
The first in a series that started a little over a decade ago, in 2005, it follows a young part-time seasonal beach patrolman as he tracks Iraq War veteran and straight-laced Officer John Ceepak through the murder case at the heart of the tale. An enjoyable read set in a fictionalized Long Beach Island (residents and visitors will find parallels in Sea Haven/Beach Haven, Sunnyside Playland/Fantasy Island Amusement Park coupled with the more overtly fantasized or 'changed' realities of Barnegat L ...more
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CHRIS GRABENSTEIN is a #1 New York Times bestselling. His books include the LEMONCELLO LIBRARY series, the WONDERLAND series, and many fun and funny page-turners co-authored with James Patterson. You can visit Chris at
More about Chris Grabenstein...

Other Books in the Series

John Ceepak Mystery (8 books)
  • Mad Mouse (John Ceepak Mystery, #2)
  • Whack A Mole (John Ceepak Mystery, #3)
  • Hell Hole (John Ceepak Mystery, #4)
  • Mind Scrambler (John Ceepak Mystery, #5)
  • Rolling Thunder (John Ceepak Mystery, #6)
  • Fun House (John Ceepak Mystery, #7)
  • Free Fall (John Ceepak Mystery #8)
“We all make mistakes. That's why my pencil has an eraser.” 31 likes
“Like I said, some guys have a code they live by, some guys don't.

John Ceepack? He has a code.
I'm working on it.”
More quotes…