At last year’s Podcamp Pittsburgh, one of my favorite session was a presentation by local authors. One of the speakers was JJ Hensley, and right at that moment, I added his novel Resolve to my “To Read” list. I was excited and honored when he sent me an email a few weeks ago, requesting that I review his book! As a blogger, I frequently get requests to review this or review that (and, as you’ll see from my Note on Reviews above, I generally decline), but there’s something special about an author personally reaching out to you and saying, “I made this, I’d like to know what you think.”
Hensley combines three favorite topics of mine– Pittsburgh, crime writing and running– into a fun, light read. Resolve follows (fictional) Three Rivers University professor Cyprus Keller as he tries to unravel the mystery of the murders happening all around him, all seemingly pointing to his guilt. The story unfolds as he runs the Pittsburgh marathon, which both provides a clever structure to the story, and gives the reader a unique overview of our city.
Resolve works well as a light read. The tone is very conversational, and anything that falls into police lingo/practice, Hensley spells out for you. The characters are fun and it’s the kind of book that it’s enjoyable to watch unfold. It’s hard to write about a crime novel without giving things away, but suffice it to say that it ends in a somewhat unexpected but satisfying way.
My one gripe with the story is that when Keller runs through the Homewood neighborhood during the marathon, he describes it as desolate, crime ridden and depressed. Homewood’s a tough neighborhood, but let me tell you, Homewood loves the marathon. I ran that stretch of the relay last year, and there were churches and families and community groups out cheering and blasting music. I got SO MANY high fives from kids. It was one of the best stretches of the run. It was a little disappointing to see Homewood represented in that negative way, when the marathon is one of the events where the neighborhood really shines.
Resolve was a timely read for me, as registration opened on the Pittsburgh Marathon this past week, and I’m all signed up for the Half Marathon. WILL I SEE YOU OUT ON THE COURSE? Can you tell I’m excited? Resolve is a great book to get you all excited for the run, or even just to feed your enthusiasm for our city.
Also, Hensley’s newest book, Measure Twice, was just released. Measure Twice looks to be another perfect read for crime novelist enthusiasts of this fair city:
Pittsburgh Homicide Detective Jackson Channing is struggling to break free from an addiction. His alcoholism may have cost him his marriage and now threatens to sweep away his sanity.
When the body of a city official is discovered in a public location, the entire city of Pittsburgh bears witness to a form of evil that is difficult to comprehend. Channing learns the killer is patient, methodical, and precise. In order to stop the killing, Channing will have to pull his life together and come to terms with a secret that is tearing him apart.
(PS- I declined the offer of a copy of Resolve for this review, and just checked it out from the library instead. So the general marketing disclosures aren’t even applicable here.)