cover image Free Fall: A John Ceepak Mystery

Free Fall: A John Ceepak Mystery

Chris Grabenstein. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $25 (320p) ISBN 978-1-60598-475-9

Clever plotting and empathic characterization lift Grabenstein’s eighth John Ceepak mystery (after 2012’s Fun House). Ceepak—now chief of detectives of the Sea Haven, N.J., police—and officer Danny Boyle intervene in a physical altercation between home nurse Christine Lemonopoulos, a friend of Danny’s, and a Mrs. Oppenheimer, who employs her. When Mrs. Oppenheimer fires Christine, Ceepak’s mother decides to use her new inheritance to help the latter get a good lawyer. But when Christine becomes a suspect in the poisoning death of another patient, Arnold Rosen, Danny is torn between trusting his friend’s reports of the deep conflicts in the Rosen household and finding out the truth. Meanwhile, Ceepak is distracted by the reappearance of his violent, delinquent father, who hopes to extort a million dollars from his mother. Grabenstein deftly mixes the flow of a standard police procedural with the complexity of smalltown personal and professional dynamics. Agent: Eric Myers, the Spieler Agency. (May)