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Hellbender: Return of the Mesozoic Sea Predator, an Account of the Naval Expedition Documents


Several boats have been destroyed by an inexplicable predator, and puzzling biological samples have been left behind. An attack in front of many witnesses draws media, military, accredited scientists, and bilious cryptozoologist Carl Curtis, who believes his hypothesis of an ancient species confirmed.

Lieutenant Sadie Krszczynski has had an uphill battle convincing the Coast Guard that her talents and competence outweigh the liability of her color blindness. But suddenly her vision deficiencies make her uniquely qualified to see an animal perfectly adapted for ocean camouflage.

Introspective ex-homicide detective Trey Johnson has come to the islands to escape his past. Now in business for himself, he lands a pair of missing-persons cases that lead him to the mystery on the water and put him back in the limelight---for better or worse.

Suddenly the sleepy islands are a hive of grandstanders, trophy hunters, and opportunistic drug traffickers, and Sadie and Trey find their lives increasingly entangled as the hysteria explodes.



 Background: Sea Monsters Versus Reality

 About the Author

 Buy the Book





HELLBENDER, the new novel by Robert William Grofe and Sense of Wonder Press, is an examination of the legend of Loch Ness and tales of old about sea monsters with a new perspective. If these horrific giants do exist, what would have to be true? What would scientifically explain an ancient Mesozoic predator surviving a global extinction, despite all evidence, and assuming its habitat is the open ocean, how did it find itself in the waters of lakes all around the world?


The ocean is an ideal hiding place.
Over 70% of Earth remains largely unexplored. The oceans are the birthplace of life, and are still by far the most biodiverse environment on the planet... our encroachment into the depths has revealed nightmarish creatures, ghouls and goblins molded in darkness.

Sailors have told tales of sea monsters for as long as humans have lived by the water, great beasts that rise up to ravage ships. Misinterpretation and exaggeration, most likely. But given the vastness of the deep, and the limited knowledge we have of what exists beneath the waves, maybe there is some truth to the old sea-faring legends.

Most intriguing is an idea that seems to persist, sightings along coastal shores and northern lakes around the world, notably Loch Ness... repeated reports of an animal said to have a long, serpentine neck, humped back, angular, diamond-shaped flippers, a description that seems only to fit an animal believed to be extinct---a pinnacle predator of the Age of Reptiles. An alleged descendant of the plesiosaur family.

If a survivor of a previous age does exist, hiding in the deep, it has been adapting for hundreds of millions of years, and it has become skilled at avoiding detection. But to avoid detection forever would be unrealistic. Hellbender paints a picture of an animal pressured by the spread of humans, driven to react. The novel hypothesizes a formidable, highly specialized stealth hunter, revisiting the days before humans were the dominant life form on Earth and questioning whether we truly rule the seas today.









Robert William Grofe was born in Philadelphia and has lived in the area for most of his life. He currently resides in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. He holds a B.A. in Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins and has been writing pro-fessionally for 15 years. During college, he was a staff writer and illustrator for the student-run Black and Blue Jay in Baltimore and regular cartoonist for the university newsletter. He worked as a freelance reporter for the Newtown Square County Press before joining The Vanguard Group in Malvern, where he now copyedits corporate reports and marketing materials.


He enjoys traveling and has spent many weeks sailing in the Caribbean and the Chesapeake Bay, which he believes has fueled many of his ideas. He writes fiction in his spare time (mainly during months while football is in its off-season); he has completed three novels and various short stories. Hellbender is his first published novel.



James A. Rock & Company, Publishers:



Trade Paperback, 6" x 9"
412 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59663-727-6   
$21.95 (list price)


All original artwork, narrative text, and graphic design by Robert Grofe and James A. Rock & Co., Publishers. Note: Product names, logos, brands, and other trademarks occurring or referred to within the pages of this website are the property of their respective owners.

Additional images by Mark Pellegrini (2005), Arthur Weasley (2006, 2007, 2008), Dmitry Bogdanov (2008), Henry Alcock-White (2005, 2006), Tamas Iklodi (2008), Wikimedia Commons user MANOJTV (2006), and any others for whom identification was unknown and/or unobtainable are published by their respective authors under the following conditions: permission is granted to copy, distribute, and/or modify these images under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license can be found at the following location:

Additional images by William Tait (1842), Phillip O'Donnell, Timothy O'Donnell, and Garth Guessman (2008), Adam Stuart Smith and
www.plesiosauria.com (2002), Sam Fentress (2005), Pierre Brial (2008), Hugo Heikenwaelder (1999), Henry Alcock-White (2006), Zachary Davies (2007), Andrew Dunn (2004), Zach Tirrell (2005), Wikimedia Commons users "Celtus" (2007), "RJFerret" (2004), and "Wars" (2006), and any others for whom identification was unknown and/or unobtainable are published by their respective authors under the following conditions: permission is granted to copy, distribute, and modify the image on the condition that the author is accredited as specified in the Creative Commons Attribution Unported License, Version 3.0 or any later version published by the Creative Commons. A copy of the license can be found at the following location: creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/.

Other images by Bishop Erik Ludvigen Pontoppidan (1975), Albertus Seba and J. Fortuÿn (1734), Pierre Denys de Montfort (1802), Conrad Gesner (1558), Olaus Magnus (1555), Hans Egede (1734), Gustave Doré (1865), Robbie Cada (2007), Tobias Jakobs (2006), Tina R. Lamb (2002), Brian Adler (2007), and others are believed to be in the public domain.

"The Surgeon's Photo," purportedly copyrighted by Robert Kenneth Wilson (1934), "The Flipper Photo," copyrighted by the Academy of Applied Science and the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau (1972), and "The Mansi Photo," copyrighted by Sandi Mansi (1977), are presented here as faithful representations of these three unique historic images; the image of "the Abominable Snowman of the North" is a screenshot from the film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, copyrighted by Rankin/Bass (1964), and is presented here solely because it makes a significant contribution to the reader's understanding of the descriptive text, which could not practically be conveyed by words alone, with the understanding that the use of this image for this purpose does not compete with the purposes of the original work, namely the creator providing graphic design services to film concerns and in turn marketing films to the public; it is believed that the use of all of these images qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.

The image of blackberries isbelieved to be copyrighted by High Hopes Gardens (2008) and is presented as shown on the website www.highhopesgardens.com to illustrate the descriptive text with the understanding that the use of this image for this purpose does not compete with the purposes of the original work, namely the creator providing graphic design to market produce to the public; it is believed that the use this image qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.

All original artwork, narrative text, graphic design, and images are presented in good faith that no copyright infringements are being committed; if we are in error and/or have inappropriately used or accredited design, text, or images, please notify us via e-mail at
hellbender.rwgrofe@gmail.com, and we will immediately accredit the item in question as instructed, provide any necessary links to the source, or have it removed.

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