Tag Archives: mystery

Image is Everything

So, I haven’t written a blog post for a while. For once, I have valid reasons for my absence from the blogging world. First, I’ve been working hard on completing the final edits for my upcoming novel Forgiveness Dies, the third book in the Trevor Galloway series, and now it is set for release in October 2019. Second, I’m busy writing the next book in that series. Additionally, I have some short stories coming out in a couple anthologies, but those will be announced later. The third reason I haven’t posted lately is I didn’t have much else to post about and reading about a writer writing is about as fun as reading about a plumber… plumb (That doesn’t sound right). Anyway, I’m going to discuss something vitally important that I know you all have been wondering about for a while now. It’s the question you’ve all had on the tip of your tongue. What will be J.J.’s next tattoo? 

So, yeah. If you didn’t know, I have a few tattoos. And I’ve been planning on getting another one, probably a turntable (because of my novel Record Scratch). However, something happened over the past year that changed my thinking. My young daughter became interested in owls. Actually, interested isn’t the right word. Obsessed is more like it. The kid absolutely loves owls. So, we ended up buying owl books, reading all sorts of online articles about owls, and visiting places where we could see owls. One such place was the Center for Wildlife Education in Statesboro, GA. I’d read there was an aerial show and, not wanting to drive an hour to have my daughter disappointed, I emailed a gentleman named Scott Courdin to make sure owls would be present. Scott assured me there would be and even made sure owls would play a prominent role in the show. (For his generosity, Scott’s name is now being used for a character in a story to be included in an anthology that will be published in 2020. He might even live. We’ll see.) We got more than we bargained for with the owls, as our encounters were… close (see video below).

Thanks to my daughter, I’ve now studied up on owls as well. Before studying up on the creatures, I knew owls were… birds. That’s pretty much it. Of course, I understood they also symbolized knowledge and probably mystery. However, they are so much more. First off, they are bad ass predators. And some types are huge. The Eurasian Eagle Owl (below) has a seven-foot wing span. Think about that. The lady ducking certainly noticed.

Eurasian Eagle Owl – Center for Wildlife Education, Statesboro, GA

Owls seem to hear and see everything and are masters at camouflage. If you don’t believe me, just do an internet search of the terms “owl camouflage”. Of course, now I notice that I’m hearing owls every morning when I leave the house. However, I never see them because they don’t want to be seen. But they watch you. Oh, they watch you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As my daughter and I learned more about the various types of owls, I became more interested in the history of the symbolism in various cultures. The owl has been tied to the Greek goddess Athena and appears on coins from ancient Greece.

via Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owl paintings have been found in ancient grottoes in France, dating back to over 20,000 years ago – indicating the creature was held in high regard or had religious meaning. The owl is found in Egyptian hieroglyphics, in African art, in artifacts found on various islands, and all from time periods spanning tens of thousands of years. For some cultures the owl has symbolized knowledge, wisdom, or watchfulness. For others, danger or death. Whether found on Alaskan carvings created by anonymous craftsmen, or in the works of Michelangelo and Picasso, the symbol of the owl has always had great historical, religious, and cultural significance.

And they can be super cute.

Screech owl. Center for Wildlife Education, Statesboro, GA.

So, I’m guessing my next tattoo will include an owl. At the time of this writing, I’m a few hours away from a consultation with a tattoo artist in the Savannah area. If I do get an owl image of some type, I’ll be doing what thousands of people, speaking countless languages, living all over the world, have done. I’ll be paying tribute to one of the greatest raptors in the world by bearing a symbol with deep meaning. At a time when we seem divided as a people, I kind of like the idea of having a reminder that we all have much in common and that history is bigger than all of us.

Besides, I looked up those Greek coins on eBay and those suckers are expensive!

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

Available Now!

RECORD SCRATCH

Amazon

“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

Available Now!

BOLT ACTION REMEDY

Buy it on Amazon!

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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I Learned During the Government Shutdown

It appears the longest government shutdown in U.S. history has come to an end. At the time of this posting, it was announced that a three-week Continuing Resolution would be passed fully reopening the government. We shall see if another shutdown occurs after that point. The downside of this 34+ day shutdown should be fairly obvious. Many federal employees didn’t receive a paycheck, although we will receive back pay once the government reopens. Contractors are not so fortunate and they have suffered greatly throughout this shutdown which apparently achieved nothing. They are the forgotten victims of this mess.

On a personal note, I’ve worked full-time since I graduated college so I think this was the longest I’ve ever been off work. I wasn’t certain how I would react, but I learned a little about myself over the past month.

First, given time during the day, I can still get into really good physical shape. Even before the shutdown, I hit the gym four or five times per seek. However, during this hiatus from work, I awoke early every morning, helped get my daughter to school and then started my workout. I usually begin with a two to three-mile run or fast walk and then I’d hit the weights for about 45 minutes to an hour. I started integrating a system called AR-7 (AR=Advanced Results) into my workouts and ended up cutting some body fat and gaining some muscle. I complimented my exercise regimen by eating extremely healthy (I’m a vegetarian anyway) and really cutting back on alcohol.

Second, I could absolutely write for a living (if it paid anything). After my workout was finished, I’d retreat to an upstairs “office”, get in front of the laptop, and work on my next manuscript. In no time at all, I conducted quite a bit of research and cranked out several thousand words. I found the work enjoyable and the biggest challenge was staying off the internet for non-research purposes.

Third, I can work from home and still get some things done around the house. I managed to fix several items around the house which probably didn’t need to be fixed and I only broke a few other things. All in all, it was a wash.

Finally, I discovered I still want to go do my regular job. While I love writing novels and short stories (and would LOVE to have more time to do so), there is a purposefulness to working in the federal law enforcement training field and I enjoy having that sense of meaning. I work with a lot of great people who do some amazing things and it will be nice to get back to my regular duties. Also…I’m pretty sure my wife wants me out of the house for a while. She works from home and I’m driving her CRAZY.

So, back to work I go. Like most furloughed feds, I WANT to go back to work and serve my country. Sadly, there are too many people out there who have little understanding of what the government actually does and how it affects our quality of life, whether it is felt in the short-term or the long-term. I work at the main campus of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center where thousands of employees on the lower end of the pay scale have been going through training without pay and many of the staff normally in place to support them (so-called nonessential employees) had been furloughed. These trainees will be going out into the field to save lives. These are the government employees who work the front lines. For the good of our country, I hope none of us have to face another shutdown anytime soon.

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

Available Now!

RECORD SCRATCH

Amazon

“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

Available Now!

BOLT ACTION REMEDY

Buy it on Amazon!

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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Things That Will Cause a Novelist to Kill You

I’m on Facebook and Twitter as much as the next writer and I’ll occasionally send out a tweet or post about something somebody has done to annoy me and how I’m tempted to create a thinly veiled version of that individual and have them…well, die.

In a book.

Yes, definitely in a book.

Which got me to thinking about what my latest Top Ten list would be for these annoying activities. I say “latest” because a list like this needs to remain fluid. We are all human and our levels of annoyances regarding certain activities can differ from one day to another. For instance, there was a time when simply having neon lights outlining the bottom of your Honda Accord that you loaded down with a $3000 stereo might have me considering getting you hit by a locomotive in Chapter 4 of a future thriller. However, I’ve mellowed.

So, for the moment here is my Top Ten ways to get yourself killed in one of my books.

10. General idiocy – This broad category may include racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, or the belief my home state of West Virginia is near the ocean. It’s not. That’s why the word WEST is in there. Any of these may get you shot, stabbed, dismembered, or electrocuted. Understandably, the multiple avenues of ignorance here necessitate the multiple possibilities for your demise.

9. Singing in the gym – You wore headphones. Nice work. You realized not everyone wanted to hear your favorite music. Awesome. However, now you’re singing and everyone can hear your karaoke version of Enter Sandman. It’s not pretty. You’ve chosen poorly and it’s likely you get crushed by dumbbells in a particularly gruesome chapter.

8. Referring to your vacation as a “vaca” – Your “vaca” is not okay. I admit this seems minor, so perhaps I haven’t mellowed. But, when I hear anyone say they are going on a vaca it makes me crazy. Or as some people like to say, it makes me “cra-cra”. Which, not coincidentally, will also get you killed.

7. Shooting off fireworks after the legal cut-off time – Get off my lawn! Yes, this is my grumpy ol’ man item, but I have a young child, two dogs who are terrified of fireworks, and everyone in Georgia seems to like shooting them off in the neighborhoods. I have to tolerate it up until the cut-off time, but then I’m done. You’ll die in some sort of explosion in a future book. Or perhaps I’ll only give you a painful disfigurement. Hey! I have mellowed!

6. Watching and believing Fox News – I’m not even going into this other than to say a television is going to fall on you and you’re going to stop breathing.

5. Using the word “we” when discussing your favorite sports team – Look – you’re exempt if you’re actually part of the aforementioned sports team. However, the odds are you aren’t. You didn’t throw the pass, score the goal, or hit the home run. You watched from the stands or from your couch just like millions of others. Oh, you were wearing a jersey???! Guess what? Still doesn’t count. You die in one of the later chapters of a novella in which a sports mascot dressed as a snapping turtle ironically, and tragically, snaps.

4. Being late – I’m super punctual. In fact, I’m usually early. Did you hear the one about the writer who actually beats his deadlines? Yeah, that’s me. So, I don’t deal well with anyone being late. If you keep me waiting for something there’s a better than average chance a character resembling you will be a step too slow getting out of the way of something moving really, really fast.

3. Telling me I should’t drink coffee – Are you suicidal? I mean…this could get you hurt in real life! So, if you do this then you better expect to get scolded to death in a short story somewhere along the way. Psycho!

2. Keeping your dog tied up outside all the time – I’m probably going to do the same to a character with a name like yours and nobody is coming for you. Ever.

1. Being unable to drive in a roundabout – Yes, it’s a road. Yes, it’s a circle. It’s both! Look, I get that Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. is busy and confusing. I’ll grant forgiveness for messing that one up. However, that tiny, single lane roundabout that popped up outside your suburban neighborhood is not some sort of giant codex that you need to solve before you can pass through. Whoever is in the circle has the right of way. Don’t stop in the roundabout. Doing so is real bad. Failure to adhere to basic traffic laws may cause and accident and will certainly get you whacked in an early chapter of a mystery. It might be a hit and run and the killer may never be caught. Because let’s face it – you don’t deserve closure.

Do you have a Top Ten? Comment below! Now remember – we’re talking about fiction here!

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

October 2018

RECORD SCRATCH

Preorder

“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

Available Now!

BOLT ACTION REMEDY

Buy it on Amazon!

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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECORD SCRATCH – A PREVIEW

My fabulous publisher, Down and Out Books has set the release of my next novel Record Scratch for October. You can get a glimpse below!

https://mailchi.mp/downandoutbooks/coming-in-october-from-down-out-books-record-scratch-by-jj-hensley

“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.

As Galloway pieces together the final days of rock and roll legend Jimmy Spartan, he struggles to sort through his own issues, to include having the occasional hallucination. He’s not certain how bad his condition has deteriorated, but when Galloway is attacked in broad daylight by men he assumed were figments of his imagination, he realizes the threat is real and his condition is putting him and anyone nearby at risk. The stoic demeanor that earned Galloway the nickname The Tin Man is tested as he reunites with an old flame, becomes entangled in a Secret Service investigation, and does battle with old enemies.


Advance 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

“JJ 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

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.

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

 

So, I Decided to Quit Writing

“What do you write?”

It was a simple question being asked of me at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in Toronto last year. I’d already participated in a panel discussion and answered similar questions, but this time I was being asked by the wildly successful Blake Crouch (Wayward Pines, Dark Matter, Good Behavior, etc.) while we were standing in the hotel lobby. Everybody knew of him. A handful people knew of me.

I shrugged and said, “I just released my fourth breakout novel.”

He smiled politely and moved on to talk to someone who wasn’t spewing gibberish. Looking back, I think this is when my bitterness with the book industry really began to manifest itself and my usual sarcasm and self-deprecation developed more of an edge. You see, my first novel WAS a breakout novel and got a lot of recognition. It’s not like I became a household name or anything, but I couldn’t ask for much more from a debut. The first novel led to the second, which several fellow authors and reviewers referred to as my breakout novel. Then my third breakout novel came out. Then, I started a new series with a new publisher and REALLY nailed it with my fourth breakout novel. My fifth breakout novel is set to come out this September. I think it’s my best work to date.

However, the problem with my breakout novels is they haven’t really ever broken out of the realm of the well-received, but not NYT Bestseller list material. They sell some copies and they get great reviews, but that’s about the extent of it.

Throughout the past year, I’ve watched as several of my author friends received large book deals and sold the movie rights to their books. While I’ve been happy for them, I’m going to make a confession here. I got jealous. Then, I got pissed off at myself for getting jealous. Then, I got furious at myself for not being able to eliminate my pettiness even though I recognized its ridiculousness. Bouchercon came and went and in the meantime I had changed jobs and moved to a new state, causing me to walk away from my latest manuscript. The stress of the move and the career change weighed on me throughout the winter. Then, Super Bowl Sunday came and my wife and I had the television on while I was cooking something in the kitchen.

I wasn’t paying attention, but a commercial came on and I heard my wife say, “Oh, no.”

“What?”

“Nothing,” she said.

I looked at the television. Sure enough, there was a Super Bowl commercial for a movie based on a book that had beat one of mine for a major award. At the time, critics had praised that author’s debut as a breakout novel. And it was. Hollywood had said so.

It’s been five years since my first breakout novel and a few months since I decided to walk away from writing. I told my wife I was probably done for good. Understanding my frustration and how I HATED that I had let myself feel petty and bitter, she didn’t try to stop me. I told an author I respect, Ed Aymar, I might be done. He called me a dumbass. He’s delicate in that way. Regardless, I went months without typing a word.

Here is the point where you’re thinking, Oh get over yourself, moron. Do you know how hard it is to get traditionally published even one time? 

And you’re right.

You’re thinking, Cry me a river, J.J. Stop being such a drama queen and appreciate what you’ve accomplished.

And you’re right.

You might want to ask me, “Are you writing for stupid accolades or for the art itself? Isn’t writing it’s own reward?”

And these would be valid questions.

Three weeks ago, I started writing again. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it had something to do with the fact I had run into some retirees who had nothing to do after they left their careers. I’m a long way from retirement, but I don’t want to feel adrift when it’s time for the next chapter of my life and writing has always given me a purpose beyond my role in the workforce.

The writing process has been more difficult than it’s ever been for me. I question the characters I create. I question the plot direction. I question the dialogue. These difficulties have made me really evaluate what kind of stories I write and the life choices of the characters I’ve created. The ambiguity I’ve felt about my writing is showing up in how my characters react, or don’t react, to situations. The story I’m writing is taking a direction none of my other novels have. The protagonist is at a crossroads and has come to realize he has very little control over the variables of life. The actions and opinions of others are outside his sphere of influence and while our existences are complex, satisfaction with one’s actions is based on simplicity and learning to accept some of our own demons.

So, I’m writing my sixth novel. It deviates from anything I’ve done to date and the protagonist will have changed a great deal throughout the series. During the construction of this story, both the main character and I are trying to reconcile how our expectations affect ourrealities and vice versa.

I’d been starting to feel negative about the breakout label, but maybe its a good thing if every book is considered a breakout novel. We’re supposed to break into new territory with every new idea. Otherwise, the storylines of our own lives can become stale and predictable.

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.

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

 

Canadian Taken – Bouchercon Wrap-up

2015: “You have to go to Bouchercon in Raleigh!”

I didn’t go to Bouchercon.

2016: “You have to go to Bouchercon in New Orleans!”

I didn’t go to Bouchercon.

2017: “You have to go to Bouchercon in Toronto!”

I WENT TO BOUCHERCON IN TORONTO!

 

For those of you not familiar with Bouchercon, it’s a mystery convention packed with amazing writers, agents, publishers, and readers. There are presentations, panel discussions, signing opportunities, and loads of other activities. Now, I’m not exactly a stranger to mystery / thriller conventions. I’ve been to Thrillerfest in New York City a few times and it’s a blast in its own right. Bouchercon is a little different in several ways. First, it is in a different city every year. While the location can be inconvenient, depending on the chosen venue, it affords attendees the opportunity to experience something different each year. Bouchercon also has more readers.

Not that conventions filled with authors aren’t great, but it’s the interaction with readers that can be especially rewarding. Not only might a writer hear from fans, but its a chance for authors to develop new readers and engage with people at a personal level. These interactions don’t have to be by chance. For instance, I participated in a writer/reader “speed dating” event, during which I paired up with another author and rotated around a room to nearly 20 tables. At each table, I had two minutes to take about my works. Repeating the same two-minute pitch over and over may sound tedious, but it’s worth it if you gain even one reader. The room was packed and I was paired up with a fantastic author named Melissa Yi. She came more prepared than I did, as I forgot my superhero costume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was also fortunate to be on a panel that discussed the portrayal of government agencies in fiction.  Joining me on the panel which was moderated by Gwen Florio, were Rachel Amphlett, Joseph Finder, Puja Guha, Mike Maden. It was a lively discussion and I managed to get a photo with Joe Finder (I’m going to call him “Joe” now), whose work I’ve admired for years.

Joe Finder (two movies made from his books) managed somehow not to be intimidated by me.

 

 

 

As I mentioned to the audience, I currently have the BEST SELLING BIATHLON-RELATED MYSTERY IN THE WORLD. (This is probably true)

For me, one of the major highlights was interacting with some writers I’ve been working with for the past couple of years. Most of whom, I’d never met in person. I contribute to a website called The Thrill Begins and it was a pleasure to meet nearly all the team members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A project that spun off of that site is the creation of an anthology titled The Night of the Flood.  It was exciting to meet nearly all the contributors to that book as well as my publishers. And you can see below, Ed Aymar and I were overjoyed to spend more time together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, this was my first time visiting Toronto. What a city! Other than the rush hour traffic, I’m a huge fan. I’m not saying I’d want to hang out there in the dead of winter, but October is a good time to visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noir at the Bar (Rob Brunet)

Noir at the Bar (Hilary Davidson)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m already excited for Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, FL in 2018. I’ll be living in Georgia by then, so the journey should be a relatively easy drive. And who knows… maybe my recent release, Bolt Action Remedy or the upcoming release, The Night of the Flood, will be up for an award. Regardless, it should be a blast.

Now I’m off to go house hunting in the Savannah, Georgia area. Savannah should be exactly like Toronto… but totally different. 🙂

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.

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

Interview with Biathlete and Olympic Hopeful Clare Egan

Note:  This is part of an interview series dealing with the sport of biathlon which plays a central role in my novel Bolt Action Remedy.

Clare Egan in on the U.S. Biathlon team and is striving to compete in the 2018 Winter Games.  She can ski, shoot, and is undoubtedly tougher than 99% of us.  Her website is https://clareegan.wordpress.com/

 

Tell us a little bit about where you are in your career.  You have the 2018 Winter Olympics in your sights, correct?  You were a great athlete coming out of high school and seemed to develop a focus on cross-country skiing in 2011.  At what point did a rifle get added to the mix and why the change to biathlon?
I am relatively young in biathlon years, having learned to shoot for the first time in 2013 and started training in earnest for biathlon in 2014. But I already had a decade of cross-country experience behind me, including 3 years of post-collegiate, full-time, professional racing. I knew I could ski fast enough to be a successful biathlete, so when US Biathlon Coach Algis Shalna offered to teach me to shoot, I said yes right away. He’s a Lithuanian-born Olympic Gold medalist (USSR Biathlon Relay) who was the US National team head coach for many years before “retiring” to a smaller role as a regional development coach and recruiter. Now, at 29 years old, I’m in my peak physical shape and the 2018 Olympics are likely to be my only shot.
In preparation for this interview, I was reading your blog in hopes of finding some common ground to discuss.  I found… well, nearly nothing.  I’d almost given up on that approach until I saw some photos on your page.  So…  HOW COOL IS BLED, SLOVENIA???!!!  I had the pleasure of going there when I was working for the Secret Service and I think it may be the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited.
Bled is one of my favorite stops on the World Cup circuit. We are currently in Antholz, Italy, which is also right up there. The entire region of South Tyrol is really special.
I’m a runner.  During a distance race, I’m lucky if I can grab a cup of water and actually hit my mouth.  Biathletes are skiing and pausing to shoot with incredible accuracy.  How much of this ability is mental and how much is physical?
I was a runner before I was a skier and I continued to run competitively throughout college. Cross-country ski racing and distance running are very similar sports both mentally and physically. Shooting, on the other hand, is unlike anything I had ever done before. It is much more akin to kicking a field goal. You must develop the skill and then repeat it over and over again thousands of times so that under pressure you can repeat the same process, no matter what.
There are physical abilities that take time to master. For me, the prone position came rather easily, though not naturally– it is counter-intuitive so I owe it to my excellent coach. Why counter-intuitive? Lesson number one: Do not try to hit the target. You can’t rely on your muscles to hold perfectly still, especially in the middle of a race. So you have to align your body in such a way that when everything is relaxed you are on the target. This is called your natural point of aim. If your natural point of aim is on the bulls-eye and you do a proper trigger squeeze, then you will hit every time. The same concept applies to the standing position. For me, standing has always been a greater challenge. My “hold” simply is not that stable. Algis said, “How do you think you get better at standing with a rifle? By standing with a rifle!” I do a lot of standing with my rifle pointing at the wall.
Other than those physical abilities, there is an enormous mental aspect. Just consider one the body’s most common natural reactions to nervousness – shaking. You can’t shake and hit! Nor can you get distracted and hit. The target is too small for that. So staying calm and focused is paramount. I am in awe any time I see the race leader arrive on point 1 for his/her final stage, with “everything to lose”, and somehow they maintain their cool and hit 5 for 5. Having the right attitude makes all the difference. “I have everything to lose” does not work, because it puts you on the defensive, and can give rise to distraction and nervousness (shaking!). You have to see each shot as an opportunity rather than a penalty. The only way to hit is 100% focus on the process. There’s nothing like this in running, that’s for sure! We have an excellent sports psychologist from the US Olympic Committee.
 
As most biathlons are outside the U.S., your travel schedule must be challenging.  Any travel nightmares you’ve encountered on the way to or from competition?
Yes. Too many to name. Most recently, trying to return to Europe after Christmas break, my teammate and I were not allowed to fly because we had our firearms. OF COURSE we travel with our firearms all the time (they are checked in locked cases), and we had done all the necessary paper work. But the airline employees had no idea what they were doing and simply would not allow us to check in. We had to fly a different day on a different airline.
Another challenge which often goes overlooked is our racing schedule. Our season requires us to live in hotels, mostly in Europe, from November through the end of March. Imagine you and a handful of your coworkers sleeping, eating, and working together every day for 5 months………..
 
Also related to travel:  How do you kill time while sitting on planes or waiting around airports?  Are you a big reader?  If so, what kinds of books do you typically read?
I am not a big reader. Though I do read a lot of news every day. I enjoy staying up on worldwide current events. I am a big language-learner and I am currently working on Korean. I speak Spanish, Italian, French, German, and a little Bulgarian and Korean. I also enjoy playing music and singing duets.
 
What are your short and long-term biathlon goals?
To go to the Olympics and win the US’ first biathlon medal (we have a good shot in the mixed relay!)

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.

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