Tag Archives: fiction

On The Thrill Begins – Shutting Places Down Like Eliot Ness

Many of you may not know this, but my road to publication came with some major potholes. As part of the Tough Times series on The Thrill Begins, I explain how I started to feel Untouchable – in a very bad way.

http://thrillbegins.com/2017/05/11/shutting-down-places-like-eliot-ness/

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, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

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.

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus 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.

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Also:

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.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

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The Speeding Ticket You Got in Arizona Was Not My Fault – Really!

Being a former police officer and former Secret Service agent, I end up in a lot of conversations with people who want to tell me about some experience he or she has had with law enforcement.  Nine out of ten times, the experience was a somewhat negative one for the individual who was upset about getting a traffic citation, or felt the police did not adequately investigate a crime of which the person was a victim, or the individual was somehow inconvenienced by police activity.

I understand this.  I’ve gotten used to these talks during which I make sure I listen well and do my best to remain objective.  After all, cops aren’t perfect.  There are some patrol officers who are jerks on traffic stops.  There are lazy detectives who fail to follow-up on leads.  There are federal agents who have giant egos.  It happens.  However, most of the frustration that is conveyed in the telling of these stories comes from a misunderstanding of processes, the profession, and what are realistic expectations.  This is something officers experience every day and it happened to me.  I recall a victim of a theft becoming extremely frustrated with me because I didn’t “… force the suspect to take a polygraph.”  Of course, I explained that the police cannot force anybody to take a polygraph test and that the results would be inadmissible in court anyway, but the victim of the crime had already labeled me as inept or apathetic since I hadn’t pursued this unrealistic avenue.

Now while every profession has to endure some level of skepticism and scrutiny, law enforcement is unique in the way many people will attribute the circumstances of a specific officer or incident to any police action.  On the surface, this can make sense to an individual.  However, when one does this with other professions, the exercise becomes a bit silly.  Below, let’s compare some complaints / stories about law enforcement with what would be the equivalent for other professions.

Police story:  “Hey, you were a police officer in Virginia, right?  Well, I was driving in Georgia and this police officer pulled me over and gave me a ticket for going three miles per hour over the speed limit.  Three!  And he completely ignored the cars that were passing me!”

Equivalent in another profession:  “Hey, you work for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, right?  Let me tell you about this time I was driving in Delaware and had to sit in a construction zone for an hour and there was no real construction going on!”

Now, obviously most people would not think to connect a construction zone on a roadway in Delaware to a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation employee, but that’s exactly what people do when discussing policing.  Another example:

Police story:  “Oh, you were in the Secret Service?  Did I tell you about the time I was late to work because the Governor’s security people wouldn’t let me use the elevator because she was visiting our building?”

Equivalent in another profession:  “So, you just retired from Xerox?  Man, we had this Konica copier at my old job and that thing always jammed.  What’s up with that?”

I know.  The conversation with the former Xerox employ would be a ridiculous conversation.  The complaint about a different product created by a different company is essentially the comparing of apples and oranges.  Aside from that, in law enforcement discussions, sometimes people try to compare apples and oranges and what people think are oranges are really tangerines.

In law enforcement, there are tens of thousands of employees in hundreds of agencies who are responsible for a variety of jurisdictions.   So, why do people tend to associate what happens with one agent or officer in a particular region or jurisdiction with an entire profession?  We usually don’t do this with construction workers, accountants, museum curators, or lawyers.  Well… maybe lawyers.  The answer is easy.  Because television, movies, and novels have made us a society of EXPERTS in all matters surrounding the administration of justice.

Many people have derived their knowledge of policing from television shows such as Law and Order, Castle, Criminal Minds, NCIS, CSI, or crime novels.  There are far fewer shows and books about construction workers, accountants, and museum curators, so people don’t believe themselves to be experts in those fields.  However, if we see NCIS Special Agent Gibbs do something on NCIS, then we know it must be partially true.  Right?  I mean lots of agencies have a computer wiz on staff who routinely, and illegally, hacks into the Pentagon in order to get classified records.  Right?

It’s natural for people to be apprehensive about law enforcement.  Many of the interactions we have with the police are negative.  Often our contacts with cops involve either being pulled over for a traffic violation or with having been the victim of some sort of crime. The overall experience may not be pleasant, but every encounter with each individual officer or agent should be evaluated independent of each other.  If an officer yelled at you in Pittsburgh, then the retired L.A. cop you are talking to at a picnic had nothing to do with it.  If you felt a detective in Austin, Texas was unfair to you, the investigator from St. Louis really can’t weigh in on the matter.  If you got jammed up in traffic because of a motorcade rolling through Washington, D.C., then don’t complain to me about…  actually, that could have been me.  Sorry about that one.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus 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.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

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.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

5 Reasons Runners Are Great Characters in Fiction

As many of you know, the protagonists in my stories are often distance runners.  This isn’t by accident, but rather because running is a great activity for a fictional character for a few reasons.  Allowing a character to go on a long run can afford him or her the opportunity to think, plan, improve physically, gain perspective, or even get involved in even more trouble.  But,  distance running characters are beneficial for other reasons.  Here are five reasons I like my main characters to be able to go the distance.

1.  THEY HAVE GOALS

Distance runners are notorious goal-setters.  They are constantly trying to get past a certain mile or better their time.  They will push themselves to the brink and then pour it on a little more.  We all like to relate to characters who are looking to improve, or at least achieve a particular goal.  A distance race can be a lot like a great book.  As with running, even if the protagonist in a story comes up short it’s guaranteed something is learned from the journey.

2.  THEY ARE A BIT CRAZY

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Let’s face it – some of the best protagonists in books and film are a bit… off.  When discussing distance runners, we are dealing with people who say things that demonstrate they are quite mad.  They say things like, “It’s only a five-mile run.”  Or, “Cool!  I finally lost a toenail!” (Yes, that can really happen).  And they utilize a strange brand of logic where a cure for fatigue is to go for a run.  They may also decide a monsoon is just a great chance to try out their new waterproof running jacket.

Not to mention, I’m pretty sure distance running is one of the few endeavors in which grown men will put Band-Aids on their nipples and consider this act to be perfectly normal behavior.

3.  DISTANCE RUNNERS FALL… AND RISE AGAIN

Talk to any experienced distance runner and you will hear a story about having to overcome adversity.  Some runners took up the sport in order to overcome a personal crisis and others have had to conquer mental or physical challenges that affected his or her running.  It could be a major knee injury, a stress fracture, a something deeply personal.  Running in itself is an internal struggle that is much more than physical.  There is a depth to the undertaking, and isn’t that what we want in the characters for which we cheer?

4.  RUNNERS UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF A BATHROOM BREAK

I mean how many books or movies have a main character who goes twelve hours straight without using the facilities???  Runners know better.  They plan things out, know where the possible pit stops are located, and fuel appropriately.  Remember the show 24?  In nine seasons, I think Jack Bauer went to the restroom one time.  In fairness, he rarely ate or drank either.  While I like the Jack Bauer character, the best characters plan out their refueling and relieving ahead of time.  Sure, you can argue Bauer didn’t have a lot of time to plan before the next crisis hit.  But, come on.  It was Jack Bauer.  He had to know trouble was around the corner.

5.  RUNNERS LIKE COFFEE AND BEER

This is obviously a generalization, but one that is fairly accurate.  Most runners love to wake up with a jolt of caffeine and they certainly don’t mind a cold brew after a long run.  This is great for writing fiction (especially crime fiction) because we can all visualize a detective grabbing a third cup of coffee after a long night, or downing a beer while contemplating a case.  You can argue that coffee and beer may not be the best for a runner’s health.  You can try, but they won’t listen.  They will simply run away and chances are they are faster than you.

And don’t worry about them going for a long run after drinking a few cups of coffee.  They know exactly where all the bathrooms are located.

WANT TO ADD YOUR OWN REASONS?  COMMENT BELOW! 

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

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.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

 

 

What You Don’t Know About Cops

Many of you may not know, but this week is National Police Week.  It’s a time when we are supposed to pay tribute to those who have fallen in the line of duty.  These are the men and women who run toward those things that drive others away.  They are the ones who risk everything to protect people they often do not know.  They are the ones who work odd hours, are underpaid, and stand out in thunderstorms when the traffic signals fail.

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They are also the ones who are often vilified, joked about, and stereotyped in fiction – and sometimes in real life.  Part of this is because many of the interactions members of the public have with police officers are not considered positive ones.  The most common is a traffic stop.  Nobody likes being “inconvenienced” by being the subject of a traffic stop.  Often, people think they are pointless and say, “I was just going 10 mph over the speed limit”.  What they don’t realize is that each traffic stop is an important component of public safety.

When I was working patrol on midnight shift in Chesterfield County, Virginia, I could pretty much guarantee that out of every 10 cars I stopped, 1 would be driven by a drunk driver.  I would also guess that 1 out of ever 20 drivers was wanted or had illegal drugs or guns in the car.  And if you have never walked up behind a car at 3 AM, not knowing if someone is pointing a gun at you through a tinted window… then you really don’t understand the concept that there is no such thing as a “routine” traffic stop.

There are so many things that people don’t see when it comes to the police.  They don’t see the resolution of a domestic violence call that happened behind closed doors.  They don’t see the runaway child taken home to terrified parents.  They don’t see the mentally ill subject who was safely restrained before he hurt himself.  In fact, those “routine” calls don’t even make the news.  These everyday calls for service are a blips on a radar that nobody seems to be manning.

And the one thing many people don’t see, because the statistics are spread out through multiple jurisdictions – they don’t see the 105 officers killed in the line of duty in 2013.  Instead, they see the donut-eating cop being stereotyped on TV.  The corrupt cop terrorizing citizens in the movies.  The lazy cop shrugging off a distress call in a novel (because the author needs the non-cop protagonist to be the hero).  The end result is that when we see a police officer having a cup of coffee at McDonald’s, part of us wonders if he or she is slacking off.  Then, we go back to our jobs and take our own coffee breaks without a second thought.

This week… let’s not do that.  Thank a cop.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE and other works of fiction.

RESOLVE has been named a finalist for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers organization.

RESOLVE was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine.

His upcoming novel – Measure Twice – will be published by Assent Publishing

http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley