Hell Hole by Chris Grabenstein

Hell Hole (John Ceepak Mystery, #4)Hell Hole

by Chris Grabenstein
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 22nd 2008 by Minotaur Books
Read: Feb. 9, 2014

The fourth Ceepak/Boyle Mystery was a pleasant change of pace, while keeping the essence of the series intact. When he’s not patrolling with Ceepak, Danny Boyle is mentoring a spunky new part-time summer officer, Samantha Starky. The two respond to a noise complaint — a group of soldiers between Iraq deployments, celebrating a bit too loudly. While Boyle and Starky are convincing them to quiet down, their Sergeant gets a call, he needs to go identify a body in a nearby town — apparently one of the team has committed suicide. Danny’s not going to let anyone this drunk drive, so they take him to the scene. Here’s where things get going.

First, the sloppy CSI from Ceepak and Boyle’s first major case is on the scene; and there’s something about what he’s seeing that doesn’t set right with Danny. This being the 21st century, he uses his phone to snap a few pictures so he can think about it. When that doesn’t do the trick, he shows the pictures to Ceepak — who not only shares Danny’s sentiment, he can point to what was wrong in the pictures. No longer a suicide, yet out of their jurisdiction, the two have to get creative to find a way to solve this murder (while never wavering from Ceepak’s rigid code of honor and honesty).

Naturally, things aren’t that easy — there are distractions, celebrities, a US Sentator/Presumptive GOP Presidential candidate, local thieves — and some major drama on the personal front for Ceepak. There’s more to Sea Haven’s best cop than his Boy Scout attitude, his military past and devotion to Law & Order, and we get a healthy helping of that now.

Yes, yes, yes there are a few thing in retrospect that bother me: our heroes don’t have as many roadblocks to investigating a crime outside their jurisdiction that the should, and the external assistance that came along at the end was just a leeeetle too easy. But in the moment, Grabenstein sold it. And that’s what counts.

Hell Hole does feature one of the scariest sentences I’ve ever read: “They make an awesome tofustrami sandwich.” Seriously? Tofustrami is a thing?

As fun add these boss are, we see real evil on them. We see a deep kind of evil here — and the seeds are planted for a truly dark next adventure. Hell Hole has your standard Grabenstein balance of comedy and drama, serious and light, heart and suspense. Things strike closer to home than usual for our characters this time, and that just makes everything better.

—–

4 Stars

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