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Hell Hole

(John Ceepak Mystery #4)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,182 ratings  ·  103 reviews
"Hell Hole" is the fourth book in the mystery series featuring former hardened military PD and current Sea Haven, NJ police officer John Ceepak and his partner, wise-cracking Danny Boyle. In "Hell Hole," Ceepak is confronted with his most personal case yet when he must investigate the alleged suicide of a military corporal who recently returned from Iraq. When it turns out ...more
Hardcover, 290 pages
Published July 22nd 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,182 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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Mar 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-mystery
This really good and I don't say that about just any mystery. I have to enjoy the characters, the setting, the plot, and I also like to have a bit of sarcastic humor thrown in. Grabenstein scores on all counts. Boyle and Ceepak continue to develop their relationship as cops in Sea Haven, hot bed of crime on the Jersey shore. This plot is even darker than the previous books and makes Ceepak come face-toface with his memories of Iraq. Grabenstein, a former advertising copywriter, can certainly tur ...more
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Danny Boyle and Ceepak are back and are still looking out for the citizens of Sea Haven with the added bonus of more background details for Ceepak, his family and military service. I love the narration in Danny's voice as much as in the first three books. I could read these books faster in print, but the audio versions are a treat.
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it

First, let me put a disclaimer out there that I'm active duty in the military and suicide is not something that I take lightly. Last year we recently loss one of our members to suicide after she separated from active duty due to PTSD. So listening to this was really hard. I found myself getting mad and upset at how Grabenstein was portraying the soldiers: the alcohol abuse, the disrespect, the drug abuse, and all the fraternization that was going on (seriously, an ARMY lieutenant going on vacati
I enjoyed the characters (especially learning more about Ceepak) and the Jersey Shore setting but the plot was a bit of a convoluted mess. The narration on the audio versions of this series by Jeff Woodman really elevates the material which I don't think I could get through if I was actually reading it.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I love these guys!
Oct 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, mysteries
This is the best yet in the Ceepak series. Grabenstein is the best author I know at mixing humor with straight-up, scary, mentally challenging detective fiction.

In HELL HOLE, Sea Haven PD officer Danny Boyle and his partner and mentor John Ceepak investigate the apparent suicide of a returning Iraq war veteran. There are jurisdictional issues, political ramifications, the return of incompetent crime scene investigator "Slobbinsky," and Ceepak's and Danny's lives are endangered more than once. To
This author is really starting to hit his stride with this series. The plot is a bit more complex and sobering than previous books in this series, and the character development is improving. The narrator, Officer Danny Boyle, has grown up a bit since the series started, and really learned a few things from his partner, ex-MP, Officer John Ceepak. In this installment, we learn more about his past, both familial and military. Sure, there was some stereotypical characterizations made regarding the ...more
It is hard for me to write how much I enjoy the John Ceepak mysteries, and especially, as read by Jeff Woodman without gibbering.

They are fun, with a nice combination of character, humor, and suspense. Violence as appropriate but not so much as to bother a mystery fan.

Jeff Woodman does such a good job of taking Chris Grabenstein's excellent characterization and turning them into the perfect voices. I hear, even as I write, the voice of Danny and John.

Definitely a series to listen to!!
Okay. Not Grabenstein's best.

I have enjoyed the other books in the Ceepak-Boyle series.

The books have had some interesting characters, great humor and often mysteries with an actual twist! (sort of Janet Evanovich plus Harlan Coben--and the analogy also works as all Grabenstein's novels are also set in New Jersey).

This one did not have the same humor, possibly because there are fewer interesting characters and there was not a real twist in the ending, no surprise in whodunit.
Mark Baker
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008, mystery
When John Ceepak sees something suspicious at a soldier's suicide, he and Danny begin investigating. But who would want to kill a hero? I love these characters, and the plot had me confused until the end.

Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.
May 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a 4.5 rating. I LOVE this series of books! The series really does continue to grow and get better with each book. These books are like the best chocolate desert! I enjoy every word and every moment and all of the characters. Humor can be very difficult, yet Grabenstein handles it beautifully while weaving it into a very serious plot and story. These books are a must read!
Nov 30, 2008 rated it did not like it
I cannot believe this book got the great reviews shown here. Maybe it was just the audio book version, but I felt like I was reading the Hardy Boys. The story line was decent which kept me listenng, but the two main characters were so juvenile, it reminded me of Mutt and Jeff or better yet Batman and Robin. Golly Gee, Gosh Darn it!
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth book I read in this series and the books are easy reads, yet the crimes are always so horrific... Chris has a pretty sick imagination! Great listen all around, and am anxious to read the next one coming soon.
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Maybe not my favorite in the series, but still good. I am crazy about Danny Boyle. He's hilarious.
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
The ending was a little weaker on this one than the past three, but I love the wry sense of humor.
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent book. This may be the last if St. Martin's doesn't sell more. Buy them, read them, trade them with your friends. They are great.
Feb 02, 2012 rated it liked it
I just enjoy this series. Easy to read, fun and likeable characters. Easy breezy - just like down the shore.
Midwest Geek
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Middle schoolers, maybe.
Shelves: mystery
The mystery itself is pretty good, but the dialog is unbelievably bad. Danny Boyle talks like a teenager who is immature for his age. I don't know what Cheepak is supposed to be like, but he talks like a computer with a limited set of stock answers to all questions and situations. Even when Cheepak encounters his father, where there ought to be some emotion, he has none. It's like a comic book: Very good, Danny! Use logic, Danny! Here's a pat on your head, Danny. Danny: Wow! How did Cheepak figu ...more
Steve Black
Lightweight but enjoyable read, in common with previous books in the series. Pretty concoluted denoument almost along Death in Paradise lines, and actions of some of the characters stretch credulity, but it's reasonably pacy as long as you accept it for what it is. I may come back to the series later, when the publisher abandons the ridiculous pricing for a relatively run of the mill series.
Dave Hay
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
Gone for "I liked it", a 3 star. This is the second of the Ceepak books I have listened to,and it was far better than the first (Tilt-a-whirl). I have not read the 2nd and 3 rd instalment before this ( the 4th), but it is not necessary. Ceepak is more of a character in this novel, and has a bit of personality that is missing in the first book .

My mother always said that if I didn't have anything good to say, don't say it. Well maybe it's me but I felt like I was reading the news and I'm fed up with that so..... let's hope his next book is a little "lighter."
Angela Verdenius
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thought I had the killer pegged - turns out I was wrong. Twice. Cannot recommend this series enough for some humour, a lovely setting, and a gruesome murder dealt with so....can one say nicely? These mysteries have just sucked me i with the twists and turns! So glad I came upon this author.
Susan Paysse
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They get better and better

Kept me reading. The characters get more interesting each book. This book sure has a cringe worthy chapter but you know its coming.
Mar 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008-reads
PROTAGONISTS: Police officers John Ceepak and Danny Boyle
SETTING: New Jersey shore
SERIES: #4 of 4
RATING: 3.75

Hell Hole is the fourth book in the series featuring police officer John Ceepak and his young partner, Danny Boyle. Sea Haven is a shore town in southern New Jersey, and the police department normally has jurisdiction only in its own area. However, Danny answers a call about a noise disturbance and finds a bunch of military types partying. While he’s there, they receive a call that one of
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads
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 ...more
Cathy Cole
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My love affair with this series and with the characters of Ceepak and Boyle continues. In this fourth book, Danny is beginning to show how much he's learned from the veteran Ceepak, whose stepson sometimes thinks of him as a combination overgrown Boy Scout/ Dudley Do-Right. Danny is beginning to shed his lackadaisical beach dude - good time boy persona. Oh, he still wants to have a good time, but he's finding that he has a knack for being a good cop, and he wants to be an even better one. Even C ...more
Apr 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Hell Hole is an old ride in the park at Seahaven, New Jersey and plays a part in this newest mystery involving Danny Boyle and John Ceepak, former military PD. But the ride is not the focal point of this mystery.

Danny and his partner for the evening Samantha Starkey are called out on a disturbing the peace complaint. On arrival at the scene they find that a group of five soldiers back from Iraq are having a celebration. While at the scene one of the soldiers receives a call that a Corporal Smith
Sep 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
If you’ve read any of the John Ceepak series, you already know the setup. If you haven’t read any of the series, what are you waiting for?

The book opens with Danny and another officer investigating a noise complaint. When they arrive, they find some soldiers celebrating a bit too zealously. While there, a phone call comes in that one of their troop has been found dead in the bathroom at a rest stop nearby, an apparent suicide. Danny offers to drive the soldier to the rest stop to identify the bo
Jul 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fourth in the John Ceepak/Danny Boyle series set on Sea Haven, a slightly fictionalized Jersey shore town. No more eye-catching candy-colored book jackets, thanks to a new publisher, but this entry is great even without the glare. Danny and new part-time partner (and possible love interest?) Samantha Starky respond to a noise complaint, and find themselves enmeshed in the gruesome apparent suicide of a soldier recently returned from Iraq. The story moves along at a good clip, series character de ...more
Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have FINALLY read Hell Hole. I read the first 3 novels in the John Ceepak series back to back about 4 years ago and could not find the 4th one in my public library. So I finally decided to suck it up and purchase the kindle edition on Amazon. I am so glad I did because I really really enjoyed this book. It made me remember why I fell in love with this series. The gruesome murders, the deep mystery, the forensic and investigative aspect. YES!

To keep the story short and not spoil anything, basic
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Goodreads Librari...: Chris Grabenstein not Chris Graberstine 1 15 Sep 15, 2014 06:54PM  
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  • When One Man Dies (Jackson Donne, #1)
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  • Eyes of the Innocent (Carter Ross Mystery #2)
  • The Judgment
  • Murder in Store
  • Ranchero (Nick Reid, #1)
  • The Fourth Watcher (Poke Rafferty Mystery, #2)
  • Falls the Shadow (Victor Carl, #5)
  • The Damage Done (Lily Moore Mystery, #1)
  • Disturbing the Dead (Rachel Goddard Mystery, #2)
  • Gone 'til November
  • Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini (A Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery, #2)
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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

Other books in the series

John Ceepak Mystery (8 books)
  • Tilt-a-Whirl (John Ceepak Mystery, #1)
  • Mad Mouse (John Ceepak Mystery, #2)
  • Whack A Mole (John Ceepak Mystery, #3)
  • Mind Scrambler (John Ceepak Mystery, #5)
  • Rolling Thunder (John Ceepak Mystery, #6)
  • Fun House (John Ceepak Mystery, #7)
  • Free Fall (John Ceepak Mystery #8)