Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hell Hole-Chris Grabenstein

Hell Hole
Chris Grabenstein
St. Martin's, Jul 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 0312382308

He place is Sea Haven, New Jersey where young police officers Danny Boyle and Sam Starkey respond to a complaint. They arrive at the scene to find several Iraq War veterans noisily celebrating. The cops ask Sergeant Dale Dixon to keep it down. However, before they can leave, Dale receives a call that one of his men Corporal Shareef Smith is in trouble. Shareef’s corpse is found in a rest room on the Garden State Parkway; his brains blown out and evidence of drug use everywhere.

Iraq War veteran Detective John Ceepak leads the official investigation with Danny as his junior partner. Almost immediately Ceepak tears apart the suicide theory, which leads to a squad of suspects amongst the deceased’s brothers in arms and a couple of local chop-shop punks. As they work the case, Dixon warns Ceepak to solve it now or he will lead his unit on a rampage against any one he suspects is the killer.

This engaging police procedural contains an ensemble support cast besides the cops and the vets to include the standard bombastic senator running for president, thieves, drug dealers, and half of New Jersey making for a slack but entertaining story line. As with WHACK A MOLE and TILT A WHIRL, the comparisons between Ceepak and Boyle make the tale fun though at times that is overdone; so different in attitude yet have forged a special camaraderie. Readers will appreciate their latest effort as Ceepak struggles with the case and the abrupt arrival of his dad while Boyle whines to solve it so he can chase a skirt instead of a killer.

Harriet Klausner