It is another summer in Sea Haven and police officer Danny Boyle and John Ceepak soon are involved in another case. While the tourism industry in Sea Haven seems safe this time around, little else is including their own lives. It begins at a party at a local rental house with a disturbance call.


Ceepak is off duty and Boyle is out on patrol with part time summer cop Samantha Starky. At the house are five very drunk soldiers on leave from Iraq. It would have been six. But, Corporal Smith is dead up at the Exit 52 of the Garden State Parkway in the rest area restroom due to what appears to be a self inflicted gunshot to the head.


Something doesn’t sit right with Boyle at the scene so he takes a couple of pictures using his cell phone camera.  After all, it is out of his jurisdiction and he doesn’t have a way of involving himself in the case. Ceepak takes a look at the cell phone pictures and quickly sees what was subconsciously bothering Boyle. Not only does he see what is wrong with the scene, he also sees a way to involve Boyle and Ceepak in the investigation. An investigation that quickly leads into the fog of war and the differences between Ceepak and other men who call themselves patriotic Americans.


Missing a lot of humor present early in the series, this is a harder edged novel in tone and subject natter. It plays off of recent news headlines from the last couple of years in disturbingly familiar ways for readers. Unlike earlier books in the series, this isn’t escapist reading. Instead, especially in the last stages of the book, there is a certain preaching tone of work that conflicts with earlier books in the series.

At the same time, some of this isn’t surprising because Danny Boyle has grown up quickly. He had seen more then a couple of dead bodies, been shot at, had the woman he loved leave town, along with a few other things. Besides that, he is partnered with John Ceepak who will never be confused with a class clown. So, it was some what inevitable there would be at least some tone shift in the series as Danny Boyle matured.


Fourth in the series, this installment written by Anthony Award winner Chris Graberstein is another good read. Different then earlier books, many of the same elements are still there, and the character growth continues at a steady pace. The result is a read that will keep you involved right to the end.


Hell Hole

Chris Grabenstein

Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Publishing Group)

June 2009

ISBN# 0-312-56561-5


290 Pages



Material provided directly by the author in exchange for my objective review.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009


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