52 in 52: Measure Twice, by J.J. Hensley

[This review is based on the ARC (Advance Reader Copy) digital edition published by the Bad Day Books imprint of Assent Publishing in 2014, and provided by the author as part of The Book Wheel’s #30Authors Project.]

The single-sentence synopsis:
“Hero cop” Jackson Channing must overcome his traumatic past to discover who is killing Pittsburgh city officials, and why.

Judging the cover:
Stark, red and black, and a shiny, scary-looking knife cutting across the bottom? There’s definitely a thriller between the covers!

First thought I had after I finished reading:
I wish I could hug Jackson Channing and his partner, Tina Lambert, and express my sincerest gratitude for doing what they do!

And here’s why:
I wouldn’t know from experience, but I imagine it must be very difficult to be a cop. Dramatic, dangerous cases being solved by extraordinary men and women trying to maintain an emotional detachment from the victims and the perpetrators…I personally could never do it. Even more to the point, I’m not sure I could have continued to live after going through what Channing and his previous partner Alex dealt with. It’s some very scary stuff and I don’t envy them in the slightest — and these are fictional characters! I’m sure these things, along with the racism and sexism described by Tina, happen to actual police officers every day as well. Law enforcement is definitely not the job for me!

On the other side of the coin, Lester Mayton, whom we learn almost immediately is the perpetrator of these crimes (much like one of my favorite shows, Motive, does), is a somewhat sympathetic villain. He’s doing these horrible things to send a message and, when you discover what that message — and his motive — is, Mayton’s crimes become a bit more understandable. That being said, the stone-cold demeanor with which he ends lives is incredibly frightening and leaves you wondering about how a switch can be flipped on the human psyche to turn people into cold-blooded killers. J.J. Hensley explores this idea in-depth as he paints a picture of a man driven away from his faith (and possibly sanity) by tragedy.

One of my favorite parts of the book involve Channing’s fellow officers. Ambitious Tina Lambert, in the eyes of the department, suffers from the affliction of being a black woman in a white man’s job and uses her intelligence and wit to push back against the establishment. When Mayton’s second victim is discovered, the department sets up a task force headed by less-than-brilliant brown-noser Chester Hatley; the interactions between him and Lambert are equal parts annoying and hysterical. At one point, Lambert and Channing decide they’ve had enough of Hatley and she breaks his nose. Sure, it’s not proper behavior on her part, but as a Lambert supporter I couldn’t help but cheer!

Measure Twice is like some of my favorite TV police procedurals in book form. It’s completely engrossing and one of those books I struggled to put down. (In fact, I read it, cover to cover, in a 24-hour period!) I was both pleased and disappointed with the ending — while I’m happy for Channing and Lambert, I’m kind of hoping for a sequel. I’d definitely be up to reading further crime-solving adventures with them!

On a scale of 1-5, I would give it a…
5!! The characters are well-drawn and the story is frighteningly realistic — I could picture this truly happening. If you’re a fan of shows like Law and Order, CSI, or Motive, or if you read crime novels (or even if you don’t!), you should check out Measure Twice!

Follow J.J. Hensley on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, and check out his website, too!

Click here to order Measure Twice via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or IndieBound!

  • Mary C.

    Great review – I’ll be adding this to my BR list! Happy to discover your blog through #30 Authors! Thanks for sharing. 🙂