In my non-writer life, I work for the federal government and if you’ve followed the news at all lately you have probably heard there is a partial government shutdown. I’m part of the “partial”, so therefore I’m furloughed – or, as POTUS stated he would like it framed – on strike.
Of course, I’ll return to work once my demands are met. I don’t know what those are at the moment, but I suppose I better come up with something. Anyway, I’m not using this unexpected hiatus to sit around, play video games, and use my new, totally cool Oculus virtual reality system. Well… not completely. Proof of this is that I’m actually writing this blog entry which is something I’ve not been doing as often as I should.
So, time to catch up everyone up on some key happenings and observations:
My sixth novel is with my publisher. Forgiveness Dies is with my publisher and is due out in October 2019.
I started writing the fourth Galloway mystery and the working title is Falling Resurrections. Hopefully, it will be ready to go for October 2020.
I’ve got short stories in two separate upcoming anthologies over the next two years. Details on those to come.
My novel Record Scratch was recently an Honorable Mention for one of the Best of 2018 in Suspense Magazine.
I watched Aquaman the day after Christmas. Since then, I’ve started a Jason Momoa weightlifting workout. I do not look like Jason Momoa. Yet.
I’ll be attending the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in Dallas, Texas. It runs October 31st to November 1st, 2019. Come find me. I’ll be the writer who looks like Jason Momoa.
I’m still a contributing columnist to The Thrill Begins. If you haven’t seen our site, you really should check it out.
Now… there is a lot of crazy rhetoric being tossed around about what a government shutdown means and the terms “essential employee” and “nonessential employee“. I’ve got nearly 19 years of federal time under my belt, so allow me to explain.
During a shutdown, some employees may be deemed “essential” and will have to work although they may not get paid. This may include Secret Service agents (my former profession), Customs and Border Patrol officers, TSA screeners, Air Traffic Controllers, and a slew of others. In the past, these individuals do get paid after the shutdown concludes, but legislation has to be passed to allow that to happen (not an absolute guarantee these days). Also, this does not help those who live paycheck to paycheck which is often the case, especially for entry-level employees in major metropolitan areas. Another consequence is contractors and support staff (cleaning crews, kitchen staff, etc. do not work and do not get back pay). This is an incredible hardship.
Other employees (like myself) get labeled “nonessential” and get furloughed. Yes, it’s a wonderful feeling to get called nonessential – but, let’s put that aside. What does that really mean? Well, nonessential employees include analysts, specialists, linguists, training staff, and dozens of other positions that support agency operations. For instance, one could be furloughed from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), which is vital to supplying well-training operational (and essential) employees to the field) because that individual’s position falls into the nonessential category. Thousands of future federal agents and officers come through FLETC each year, but things don’t operate quite as well when… you know… a bunch of employees are missing. Needless to say, essential positions don’t function for long without the so-called nonessential positions.
One only has to read the comments section of news articles to realize how many people out there believe a government shutdown is actually a good thing. Nor do many seem to have any empathy for the tens of thousands having to deal with the fallout from a political battle. Yet, many of those who love to flex their Twitter Muscles are the first to claim they support those who serve in the military and believe those who protect this country deserve respect.
Those nonessential government workers include those who inspect our food. They include those who help train our nation’s federal agents. They include those who keep people safe in our national parks, those who protect our environment, and those who protect your money.
And the federal government is about the same size it was in the late 1960s although it serves a much larger population, so please don’t fall for the “government needs to be downsized anyway” trap. The government needs to be open and this is not a strike. Mexico isn’t paying for a wall and it’s time to move on to the business of letting those who serve this nation do their work.
J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, Bolt Action Remedy, Record Scratch, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.
“There are two types of men you must fear in this world: Men who have everything to lose—and men like me.”
It’s a case Trevor Galloway doesn’t want. It’s certainly a case he doesn’t need. The client—the sister of a murdered musician—seems a bit off. She expects Galloway to not only solve her brother’s homicide, but recover a vinyl record she believes could ruin his reputation. Galloway knows he should walk away. He should simply reach over the desk, give back the envelope of cash that he admittedly needs, and walk away. However, when the client closes the meeting by putting a gun under her chin and pulling the trigger, his sense of obligation drags him down a path he may not be ready to travel.
A story divided into twelve songs from Jimmy Spartan’s final album.
Praise for RECORD SCRATCH:
“Record Scratch shocks you out of your ordinary groove. Sometimes witty, other times haunting, but when the needle jumps the track, the body count screams.” —Marc E. Fitch, author of Paradise Burns and Dirty Water
“In Record Scratch, Hensley, a former secret service agent, gifts us with a bounty of goods: a solid mystery, a damaged but relatable main character—one you root for, and swift plotting that weaves a compelling, compulsive tale of music and death and the demons carried by those in law enforcement. Bring me more Trevor!” —Shannon Kirk, international bestselling author of Method 15/33
“J.J. Hensley’s Record Scratch is a tersely written and tightly plotted gem, featuring one of the most unique protagonists around, Trevor Galloway, a man who has a way of getting himself into and out of trouble at an alarming rate. The book is action-packed with a dash of mordant wit, and I can’t wait to read more in this intense, engaging series.” —David Bell, USA Today bestselling author of Somebody’s Daughter
“J.J. Hensley’s tale of a stoic PI investigating the murder of a has-been rock star is equal parts classic whodunnit and gritty noir, peppered with high-octane action scenes that will leave you breathless. Record Scratch is like a throat punch: powerful, shocking, and unapologetic, but the surprising poignant ending will stay with you a long after you’ve finished the book. This is a thriller that crackles from the first page to the last.” —Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts
BOLT ACTION REMEDY
Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.
Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.
In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.
Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission. Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.
An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.
In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered. When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.
And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology