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Resolve: book review


Resolve by J.J. Hensley. Publisher: The Permanent Press (March 13, 2013). Fiction/ mystery/thriller. Hardcover. 248 pages. ISBN: 978-1-57962-313-5.

At the outset Dr. Cyprus Keller admits he plans to kill someone while running the Pittsburgh Marathon. [“Rushing at me is the first of five points where it may happen I shouldn’t have come today, knowing what I know, but I can’t hide from this. Whatever happens today is a result of my own actions. My hands are anything but clean.”] During each mile he outlines the course terrain, landscape and challenges to any runner. As he runs the race, he reflects on the various events in the previous days which compel him to do what he intends to do.

“Trains rumble in all directions, on tracks that rest under skies that loan space to passing airliners. Old architecture blends with the new, and steel intertwines with brick. International technology corporations tower over plumbing supply stores.”

A female student’s murdered. Then his graduate student attempts to kill him. His running partners act suspicious. As a former police officer now professor of Criminology at Three Rivers University in Pittsburgh, Dr. Keller gets increasingly wary to his surroundings. He looks guilty to the police due to his connections to the female student (she was in his class) and his graduate student. In the cutthroat academic world, even one like Three Rivers University, sometimes there’s more at stake.

RESOLVE contains twists, surprises and the Pittsburgh marathon back-setting allots it a clever angle. Dr. Keller’s relationship with his therapist wife Kaitlyn functions as a superb backbone to the story. She centers him. They care for each other without smothering each other, having their own interests and careers.

First-time author J.J. Hensley crams his expertise into this thriller. He’s a long distance runner, a former police officer and Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service. While Dr. Keller trains in his running group we learn about swapping out shoes on different days, storing snacks in a belt pack for long runs and various clothing runners prefer to wear—wicking, long sleeves, hoodies, throw away sweat shirts– depending on the weather. Though he received a PhD in criminology after working as a police officer, Dr. Keller finds himself at a distinct disadvantage among academics. He’s not a pure academic. He’s worked the dirty streets. To many that would be a plus. He has the real world experience. Not so. Those who study and write about the real world don’t often wish to associate with those people within their venerable university walls.

RESOLVE lost a bit of steam for me at the end. Staggered at the finish. I no longer cared about the motive. Lost the plot. Wanted to read more about the marathon of all things.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from The Permanent Press.

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