BANG BANG BANG BANG! That’s right I am the crucial 4th shot on U.S author J.J Hensley’s 5 shots blog tour. (It’s usually the 1st or 5th shot that is crucial in biathlon but from now on it’s the 4th!). It may surprise you to hear that biathlon has been used as the basis of a crime fiction novel, but it has! Hensley has wisely decided that biathlon would be a good backdrop for his latest novel Bolt Action Remedy. It is his 4th novel and obviously his best as it has biathlon in it! J.J is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service which is the primary reason for me saying nice things about his book 😉 I got the chance to read it before it is released on the 2nd of October and had a chat with him about it.
Set in a wintery Pennsylvania, a 43 year-old veteran is tasked with finding the murderer of businessman Peter Lanskard. I know what you are thinking but it’s not Ole Einar Bjoerndalen! Although he could probably solves crime too if he wanted! It’s actually ex-cop Trevor Galloway who has to tackle a crime that has been unsolved for over a year and is as tricky as trying to pick the winner of the Women’s Overall World Cup.
The circumstances of the shooting mean that only someone who can shoot well and ski fast could have done it. Do we know anyone who can do that? Of course! The first person you would suspect is a biathlete! They all have rifles and some of them look pretty murderous when they miss targets on the final standing shoot.
Unluckily for Galloway there is a biathlon camp in the area full of suspects and so just like Martin Fourcade in a Pursuit race the killer is not easy to catch. The owner of the biathlon camp comes under suspicion not only for murder but also for fictitiously coming 4th in the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. Ricco Gross will not be pleased about that! Not only did he miss the podium in that race but now a fictional biathlete has stolen his result.
Galloway’s already difficult task is made harder by demons from his former job as a policeman who specialized in narcotics. He comes across a bit like a biathlete in the Individual race. He tries to handle everything all on his own, he occasionally finds himself in the middle of the woods, there is shooting involved and you don’t know what’s going on right up until the end!
In summary if you like biathlon and crime thrillers then this is the book for you. I could say ‘give it shot’, or ‘it hits the target’ but I don’t do biathlon puns!!! 😉 It would be perfect for a flight – say if you are going somewhere far away ….like PyeongChang! 😉
How did you discover biathlon and why do you like it?
While I was an agent with the U.S. Secret Service, I worked protective operations at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was there for a couple of months, so I was exposed to a great number of sports not typically popular in the United States. I loved the combination of endurance and skill demonstrated by biathletes and that always stuck with me. I have so much admiration for what those athletes can do.
Why did you decide to base your book around biathlon?
My first novel, Resolve, was set against the backdrop of a marathon. Ever since writing that book, I’ve wanted to write another mystery that somehow involved an endurance sport. I weighed doing something with triathlons and cycling, but nothing seemed to work. Then it finally dawned on me. If I was going to write a murder mystery tied to an endurance sport, then use one in which everyone already has a gun! Biathlon was the perfect fit and using it gives me a chance to introduce the sport to many of my readers.
Why did you choose Bolt Action Remedy as the title? Did you consider any others before you settled on that like ‘Death by Biathlon’ or ‘Catch point 22’?!! 😉
Titles come to me in odd ways. I know many authors who struggle with titles even after finishing a manuscript. As soon as I started writing the manuscript, I decided on Bolt Action Remedy. I like strong titles that convey decisiveness and what is more decisive than solving a problem with a rifle?
Tell us a bit about the book. If you are a fan of biathlon why should you read it?
I can pretty much guarantee it will be one of the top-selling biathlon-related mysteries in 2017. And probably 2018. Possibly 2019 too. As far as I can tell, the market I am entering is fairly small.
The main focus of the book is not biathlon, so I think it will be enjoyable to those who know the sport and others who cannot even ski (like me). If you are a die-hard fan of biathlon then I think you will enjoy how the skills demonstrated on the course are integrated into the story. The novel starts with the murder of a prominent businessman and the crime had to have been committed by someone extremely talented in two areas: skiing and shooting. When former narcotics detective Trevor Galloway discovers the crime scene is adjacent to a biathlon training facility, his suspect list gets real long, real fast.
The main character is an ex-cop who likes to run. You are an ex-cop who likes to run. Where on earth did you get the inspiration for Trevor Galloway? Do you put any of yourself into your characters or do you use former colleagues or criminals you have arrested?
I try to put myself in the shoes of most of my characters, but I certainly relate to this protagonist more than with some of my previous creations. I don’t share Galloway’s addiction issues, but we have somewhat similar backgrounds and we both are often perceived as extremely stoic. In fact, the nickname he carries throughout the novel – the Tin Man – comes from my days of training federal investigators. Some students thought I came across so serious and unforgiving during various practical exercises, they called me the Tin Man.
I always work in some bits and pieces from real life when writing a book. Some of the character names I have used over the years Kevin Shand, Mike Hartz, and Tina Lambert, to name a few, are all variations of people I have known throughout my life. I am AWFUL at making up character names, so if we were ever friends or coworkers then there is a decent chance you will end up in a book. It is entirely possible I might kill you, but that is just the way it goes.
Did you do a lot of research about biathlon for the book? Where did you get your information?
In addition to conducting a lot of research online, I corresponded with biathlete Curt Schreiner who competed for the U.S. in the Olympics. He was extremely helpful and helped me with some of the more technical details. The book is still a work of fiction, so there are going to be some areas in which I do not do justice to the sport, but Curt really helped to keep me from totally embarrassing myself.
You were in the secret service and they say Darya Domracheva was allegedly in the KGB. Can you see why a biathlete might do well in that type of job?
It makes sense that many biathletes have backgrounds in law enforcement, military, or the intelligence community. I read somewhere that it was normal for Darya to be given a rank in the KGB because all the biathletes in Belarus were sponsored by the agency. I think in many instances, people who have type-A personalities are drawn to high-level athletics and fields like law enforcement. It is not surprising there is great overlap between biathlon and those other fields in which endurance and marksmanship are so important.
My North American readers will no doubt be able to purchase Bolt Action Remedy in all good book shops but what about the rest of the world? Will it be out in e-book form? Where can they get it?
It is already out there for preorder on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and iBooks (iTunes) in paperback and ebook formats. I am also hoping to have it produced as an audiobook by the end of 2017.
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bolt-action-remedy-jj-hensley/1126694509?ean=2940158962875
You must have had a rifle. Did it have a name?
Surprisingly, I never had much use for a rifle. As a police officer, I was issued a Sig Sauer P229 pistol and Remington 870 Shotgun. I carried the same weapons when I was with the Secret Service, with the addition of occasionally carrying a Heckler and Koch MP-5 submachine gun. So, I had to consult with a friend of mine named Sam Lerch to gain some understanding of non-biathlon rifles. But, to get back to your question – I never named any of my weapons. In fact, many would be surprised to know this, but I do not even like guns.
Describe yourself in three words.
Resilient, Self-deprecating, Dad
Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlete: Tim Burke
Favourite biathlon nation: Have to go with U.S.
Favourite biathlon event (sprint,pursuit etc): Individual
Favourite author: Raymond Chandler
Favourite book (not your own!): Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Favourite writing implement(pen, laptop etc): Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Best thing about being an author: Creating something from nothing and watching it all come to life.
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Praise for BOLT ACTION REMEDY:
” It’s a good read, but is it as good as say a blog all about biathlon? I don’t think so!” – Anon
“J.J. Hensley is a crime writer who deserves readers’ attention and trust, because beyond his ever-stronger prose, he brings his ex-badge carrier’s street smart eyes to this hard world we live in. Hensley goes beyond clichés to the heart of his fiction and his characters, and delivers stories worth your time. Put him on your READ list.” —James Grady, author of Six Days of the Condor and recipient of the Raymond Chandler medal and the Grand Prix du Roman Noir.
“In Trevor Galloway, J.J. Hensley has given us a deliciously flawed hero whose unique gift makes him a phenomenal investigator, but also leaves him teetering on the razor thin edge of genius and insanity. In Bolt Action Remedy, the reader follows Galloway on a chilling journey into the snowy world of biathlon as well as into the shadowy vortex of his wounded mind where neither he nor the reader knows at what point reality ends and hallucination begins. Hensley weaves a captivating tale while providing an authentic voice and a dash of ironic humor.” —Annette Dashofy, USA Today bestselling author of the Zoe Chambers Mysteries.
“Fast-paced and funny, Bolt Action Remedy is an action-packed thriller that will keep readers guessing from the first to the final page.” —Rebecca Drake, author of Only Ever You.
“Bolt Action Remedy is the real thing: fast, dangerous, and with a unique setting used in interesting ways. Oh, and another thing: It’s entertaining as hell.” —Andrew Pyper, International Thriller Writers Award-winning author of The Damned and The Demonologist.
“Bolt Action Remedy marks the welcome return of J.J. Hensley’s trademark blend of breathless action, haunting atmosphere and sly wit.” —Gwen Florio, award-winning author of Montana and Disgraced.
“Strap yourselves in. This author guides you to the conclusion through twists, turns, and drops that will leave you so engrossed, you lose track of time.” —Lucie Fleury Dunn, Movies in my Mind Book Reviews.