• Hell Hole

  • A John Ceepak Mystery
  • By: Chris Grabenstein
  • Narrated by: Jeff Woodman
  • Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (1,334 ratings)
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Hell Hole  By  cover art

Hell Hole

By: Chris Grabenstein
Narrated by: Jeff Woodman
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Publisher's summary

Hell Hole is the fourth book in the mystery series featuring hardened former military PD and current Sea Haven, New Jersey, 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 that this "locked stall" rest-stop suicide is anything but an open-and-shut case, Ceepak and Boyle realize that the corporal might have been privy to information that opens up a much larger conspiracy - one that strikes at the heart of our involvement in the Middle East and puts them on the wrong side of some very unpleasant people.

Don't miss other adventures featuring Sea Haven's finest, including (in order) Tilt-a-Whirl, Mad Mouse, and Whack-a-Mole.
©2008 Chris Grabenstein (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Grabenstein again shows his intimate knowledge of Jersey shore towns, whose populations swell in the summer....But this series offers far more than a beach-book romp; Hell Hole is taut and satisfying crime fiction." (Booklist)
"Hell Hole - named after an amusement park ride, like his other novels - moves at a brisk pace...The relationship between John and Danny, how each grows and learns from each other, continues to be the heart of Grabenstein's four novels." (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
"Jeff Woodman's natural exuberance is a fine fit for Hell Hole's ingenuous, smart-alecky cop, Danny Boyle....Additionally, Woodman creates a perfect foil in Boyle's NJPD partner, hard-nosed, by-the-book John Ceepak....Chris Grabenstein writes a tight, well-constructed mystery, and Woodman's performance keeps the interest high and the listening upbeat." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Hell Hole

Average customer ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Another Terrific Ceepak Mystery

I've read all of the Ceepak Mysteries and was not disappointed by Hell Hole. The anticipation and mystery unfolds at a nice pace and I really enjoyed the ending. Based on the ending, I'm looking forward to the next book. Of course, I always enjoy Jeff Woodman's narration too.

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12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Stronger story than books 1-3

This is an excellent addition to this series. It has the same tone and humor and setting as the first 3 books but the story has a bit more punch to it (i.e., it's quite "serious" in nature, and believable, and... well, kinda sad too).

It's probably a bit far-fetched in that I don't think so many people in real life would be complicit in such bad goings-on, but it's all believable within the story, and very suspenseful...

It's fast and enjoyable - though I think it has more swearing than the other books so that might put some people off, but it all fit with the storyline. The narration is very well done.

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Love that Ceepak

If you are a John Ceepak fan, you have to listen to this book. It isn't as good as the first three books (mainly because there is less Ceepak and more Danny Boyle) but Grabenstein still spins out a smart, funny and dependably entertaining story

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Best one yet

The story line in Woodman's latest effort develops and culminates better than any of the previous books.
Very entertaining and good fun.
Jeff Woodman, again, is absolutely brilliant in his portraying of the characters!
I can enjoy listening pretty much anything if the narrator does it right, and Woodman makes all the right choices - so good I forget he's reading. It's like watching a brilliant actor, forgetting they are reciting a script, and really believing in the character.
If you like a listen for the good narration, this series is a must.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Worth the wait!

I really enjoyed this one as I did the three that preceded it. I thought it was very well thought out and it left me going until the very end. I think Grabenstein gets better at this with each Ceepak mystery he writes. I highly recommend this. I'm going back to read Hell for the Holidays but hope that Grabenstein releases his next Ceepak mystery real soon!

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5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Too Dark!

Series started well. Antagonists are now too nasty. Little humor left. Lots of crude put downs.

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Comic book dialog ruins an otherwise good 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! Wow, how did Cheepak figure that out? Use logic, Danny! Here's a pat on your head, Danny. The narrator turns Cheepak into a blockhead, but I cannot fault him too much. He isn't given much to work with. The whole is LESS than the sum of each part. I will not be reading any more in this series.

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Golly jee wiz Batman what do we do next?

This is a book written for grade school kids if it were not for the story line. I was very disappointed and could hardly finish it. I would not recommend this book to anyone. The storyline was good but the way it was written was not, very childish and boring. Don't waste your money on this one, or your time!

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Unbelievably wooden main character

This is the first Grabenstein book I've read/heard. It will be my last. I bought it on the half-price sale and I don't think it was worth even that. John Ceepak is a wooden, one-dimensional, incredibly inauthentic character. In fact, he's just the idea of a character, barely a character at all. The narrator's reading of this character's voice only makes the character more flat and unbelievable. The author also has a bad habit of talking about how brilliant this character is through his sidekick Danny's commentary. Even if your plotting or your detective's deductions really are brilliant, it's not a good idea to say so overtly. If they really are--and they're not in this case--your readers will make that judgment. If they're not so brilliant, you just look foolish for claiming they are. To Grabenstein's credit, there are a few interesting moments in the plot. But overall, this is not even mediocre quality mystery writing.

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

This One Was Hard

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 vacation with his enlisted command? Taking ORDERS from the sergeant? Especially out of a combat zone?? No, just no.)

I had to detach myself from own emotions and reactions. Grabenstein is a former comedian and advertiser executive--and that's how he writes. Grabenstein is not about deep characterization. He creates caricatures that are easy to relate to but hold no real depth or complexities. The only two characters that have any real semblance of three-dimensional character growth are Ceepak and Boyle and it's taken nearly four books to even get some of that. Therefore, to stop thinking of the soldiers that Grabenstein was describing as real people but a collaboration of the worst characteristics that can be found in men. People being in the military does not make the saints, they are as human and fallible as anyone else, and I think Grabenstein was trying to make that point. That in extreme circumstances extreme misconduct and extreme evil can be created and carried out. History has shown this both in the Iraq War, the Vietnam War, and all other wars. The saving point was that although Grabenstein showed the extreme end of evil that sometimes appears in the military, he also contrasted it with the integrity and honor that is prevalent in the armed forces.

So, despite the gruesome and horrific crimes that are described in this novel (and the very liberal politics in regards to the war) I can't hate the novel. Grabenstein stays true to the characterizations of Boyle and Ceepak. He grows them even more and stares unflinching at an issue that makes me sick to my stomach. This book did not leave me with the good feeling that the other books gave me, but it hasn't turned me off of the Ceepak series for good either. I just need a little break before giving Boyle and Ceepak another go.

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3 people found this helpful