Record Scratch

J. J. Hens­ley Down & Out Books (OC­TO­BER) Soft­cover $16.95 (260pp), 978-1-948235-35-8

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews | Adult Fiction - JOHN M. MUR­RAY

J. J. Hens­ley’s en­thralling de­tec­tive novel Record Scratch blends mu­sic, vi­o­lence, and men­tal health. While work­ing as an un­der­cover cop, Trevor Gal­loway was tor­tured with heroin; now, he can not only in­voke vi­sions of crime scenes, but he has vivid and dy­namic hal­lu­ci­na­tions in which imag­i­nary peo­ple be­come in­dis­tin­guish­able from re­al­ity. Gal­loway par­lays his break with re­al­ity into a bur­geon­ing PI ca­reer.

The mur­der of rock leg­end Jimmy Spar­tan re­mains un­solved; his sis­ter hires Gal­loway to dig deeper into it, with spe­cial at­ten­tion on re­triev­ing a unique miss­ing record. Af­ter pay­ing him in cash, the sis­ter kills her­self in front of Gal­loway, whose al­ready frag­ile sense of well-be­ing be­gins to shat­ter.

Gal­loway also stum­bles into a Se­cret Ser­vice coun­ter­feit­ing case when two of his hal­lu­ci­na­tions turn out to be vi­cious hit­men. His con­di­tion wors­ens as he fights off ruthless as­sas­sins. No longer sure of what’s real and what’s fu­eled by rage, Gal­loway works to solve both cases, but at great cost.

The mys­tery lay­ers sus­pense and ten­sion to great ef­fect. Gal­loway is a com­pelling, if un­re­li­able, nar­ra­tor. He changes over the course of the novel from a bro­ken but re­cov­er­ing ad­dict into a ter­ri­fy­ing and vi­o­lent man.

With lit­tle fluff, even the book’s cli­max is rapid fire, ruthless, and sat­is­fy­ing. Scenes are com­pellingly set, and mi­nor plot de­tails con­nect in sur­pris­ing ways for a pow­er­ful pay­off. At the book’s end, Gal­loway is in a dif­fi­cult place, but one that sets up strong hook for fu­ture books.

Record Scratch is a dark noir thriller star­ing a frac­tured but deep and heroic de­tec­tive.

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