I knew after setting my first novel (Resolve) against the backdrop of a marathon that I would someday try to write another novel that in some way involved an endurance sport. I tinkered around with creating a plot that revolved around a triathlon. I considered developing a story that revolved around a cycling event. But, none of these ideas felt right in my mind and were all abandoned with prejudice. Then, one day it hit me. If I was going to write a murder mystery involving a strenuous athletic event then why not choose one in which the athletes were highly trained with weapons? No, not fencing (although that’s not a bad idea). I’m talking about a sport that is wildly popular in some parts of the word, but not in the United States – which is kind of odd considering our love of guns. I’m talking about the sport of biathlon.
Now, if you don’t know about biathlon then allow me to explain in the simplest terms. The competitors, each with a rifle on his/her back, ski cross-country at ridiculous paces before stopping to fire at incredibly small targets. Generally, missing a target means having to circle a penalty loop (one lap for each target missed). Of course I’m oversimplifying this amazingly complex sport, but you can learn some of the basics here:
The sport is absolutely fascinating and if you have ever tried to fire a weapon when your heart is racing and lungs are burning, then you can certainly appreciate the talent of the competitors. The specialize rifles used in the competitions are lightweight and crazy-accurate. And they look cool.
Now, I realized the challenges of writing a novel that dealt with biathlon. First of all, I’m not a biathlete. In fact, I can’t even ski. So, I read up on the sport and then sought out some help from Olympic biathlete Curt Shreiner. Then, I developed a story that wouldn’t require the reader to have any prerequisite knowledge of the sport. Fortunately, the book was picked up by Down & Out Books and scheduled for publication in the Fall of 2017.
In the coming months, I’ll be posting interviews with several people from the biathlon world including Louise Wood who blogs about biathlon at https://biathlon23.wordpress.com/, Eric Chandler who has competed in biathlon and is a writer, and Clare Egan who is a biathlete currently working toward gaining a spot on the U.S. Olympic team for the 2018 Olympic Games. Additionally, I’m going to be participating in the Five Shots Blog Tour (because of the five targets biathletes shoot – see what I did there?) which will involve several popular blogs to include The Book Wheel, The Suspense is Killing Me, Biathlon23, Running ‘N’ Reading, and Novelgossip. All of this will lead up to the release of my book Bolt Action Remedy, which is a real thing… I promise.
So, please be sure to follow this blog and my other social media sites to learn more about this great sport and my upcoming book. With the Winter Olympics less than a year away, it’s time to start studying!
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.
Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in October 2017! Available now
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.
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