Title: Tilt A Whirl
Author: Chris Grabenstein
Publisher: Audible Inc 
ISBN: n/a [downloaded from audible.com]
Length: 8 hours 18 minutes
Setting: New Jersey, USA, present day
Genre: Police Procedural
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
My rating: 4/5
One-liner: Brilliantly narrated and entertaining feel-good book.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Sea Haven, on the New Jersey shore, is overrun by summer tourists and the most serious crime is a stole bike. One Saturday morning two local police officers, John Ceepak, a former MP, and Danny Boyle, a rookie part-timer, see a hysterical young girl covered in blood. She tells them her father was shot in the local amusement park. Ceepak is asked by his old army buddy who is now the Police Chief to head up the investigation into Reginald Hart’s murder and he also gives his word to Ashley, the young girl, that he’ll protect her from the danger which still surrounds her.
If you had told me that every time I pressed stop I’d be itching to get back to a single-body whodunit narrated by a 20-something party animal and featuring a goody-two-shoes ex-soldier who lives by a corny moral code I’d have given you the look. The “I don’t think you have a clue and thanks for nothing” look. But, based on the infinitesimally small chance I might be wrong, I accepted a passionate audio book recommendation from Belle (of Ms Bookish) and was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.
First I must mention that Jeff Woodman is a superb narrator: managing to give a completely different yet realistic sounding voice (complete with regional accent) to more than a dozen characters of different ages and genders. I have no doubt that his skill is part of the reason I so thoroughly enjoyed the book and had such vivid images of the setting and characters in my head.
I thought the choice of narrative voice in the story was a particularly good one. Using someone who is an observer and a participant in the action worked well, especially when combined with the fact that Danny Boyle is a rookie working with a more experienced policeman. This provided plausible opportunities for the kind of explanatory scenes and missed bits of action that can become clunky in first-person narratives. Danny also turned out to be a likable, engaging young man with a good sense of humour and the story unfolded quite naturally through his eyes.
The use of a ‘Duddley Do-Right’ style character in the form of John Ceepak (whose life motto is ‘neither lie nor cheat not steal nor tolerate those who do) is a risk because I cannot possibly be the only potential reader who is wary of such fantasies. However, even though he is too good to be truly credible, I found myself interested in his back story and smiling at his all around good-guy-ness and rooting for him to triumph over the bad guys. Maybe even natural born cynics like me need to take a day off from being jaded every once in a while.
Although there were some corny, predictable lines the broader story kept me guessing right to the end, the New Jersey Shore setting felt realistic, the characters were charming and overall it was the literary equivalent of a feel good movie. I’ll definitely be listening to the rest of this series (though unlike Belle who gobbled them all up at once I’m going to space them out).
Here is a review by Belle (from Ms Bookish) (thanks again for the recommendation) and a review of the whole series by Beth (from Beth Fish Reads) who introduced Belle to the series. Don’t you love the way the book blogging world works?