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Measure Twice

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Lester Mayton is struggling to break free from his addiction. In his particular case, the drug of choice is religion. Now with his wife dead and city officials to blame, Mayton is out for revenge. In order to commit the atrocities necessary to spread his message of justice, he must change his ways and become the evil he has always abhorred.

Pittsburgh Homicide Detective Jackson Channing is struggling to break free from his own addiction. His alcoholism may have already cost him his marriage and now threatens to sweep away his sanity. Ever since he and his partner were brutally tortured by a sadistic murderer, his life has spun out of control. Following a failed suicide attempt, Channing - a former distance runner - decides his life must have some meaning and the only way he can put the pieces back together is to break free of his addiction and commit acts of redemption.

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.

With each chapter of this thriller representing one of the 12 steps of addiction recovery, Measure Twice is a story of personal struggle, revenge, and the search for redemption.

Pay attention throughout this heart-pounding pursuit. The details are important because every cut is lethal.

248 pages, ebook

First published August 28, 2014

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About the author

J.J. Hensley

14 books109 followers
J.J. HENSLEY is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service. Mr. Hensley is the author of the novels RESOLVE, MEASURE TWICE, CHALK'S OUTLINE, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, RECORD SCRATCH, FORGIVENESS DIES, and several shorter works. He is originally from Huntington, WV and currently resides near Savannah, GA.

RESOLVE was a Thriller Award finalist and was named one of the Best Books of the Year by both Suspense Magazine and Authors on the Air. Record Scratch was an honorable mention for Suspense Magazine's Best of 2018.

He is a member of the International Thriller Writers.

Email: contact.hensleybooks@gmail.com

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5 stars
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64 (7%)
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Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Ed.
632 reviews56 followers
February 28, 2018
Set in Pittsburgh, this unassuming thriller is all about revenge and atonement. Lester Mayton puts his strong Christian faith on hold to exact revenge on the city officials he blames for his wife's death. Jackson Channing is a senior police detective trying to atone for the torture death of his partner by a serial killer they tried to interview on an earlier investigation. Their paths eventually cross in an explosive finale but the evolution of these intriguing characters are the elements I most liked about this book. Channing and his younger inexperienced partner Tina Lambert, get off to a rocky start but slowly develop into a highly effective team heading for a showdown with Mayton. Many thanks to my GR friend Jim Crocker for recommending this outstanding thriller to me.
Profile Image for Jim Crocker.
211 reviews26 followers
February 17, 2018
Two metropolitan homicide detectives -- one a recovering alcoholic, older white guy, the other a young, black woman with a big mouth -- are partnered up to FAIL in their pursuit of a devious killer, administering murderous vengeance and retribution upon the corrupt city officials responsible for the death of his wife.

The two cops battle their own demons, the system and each other to an explosive climax. I couldn't put this one down, and I'm sure you won't either. One of my favorite characters was "Backhoe." I think I served with him in the MPs years ago in Nam.

Happy Reading and Cheers Y'all!
Jim in MT
Profile Image for Erin.
28 reviews3 followers
September 24, 2014
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!
Profile Image for Tara - Running 'n' Reading.
316 reviews95 followers
September 23, 2014
For some reason, I really enjoy damaged characters; maybe because I'm a little damaged myself. Since that is the case, I immediately fell in love with Jackson Channing, as he seeks to successfully revive the career that damaged him in an effort to replace the flask in his jacket pocket with a familiar demon that might prove a little more productive. His plan is somewhat hindered by the sharp new partner with whom he's been paired; Tina Lambert, a fierce, former track star, does not seem fazed by the aura of Channing's "hero cop" status and quickly recognizes that Channing may be a loose cannon.

The story is fantastic, and if you live in the Pittsburgh area you'll enjoy the references to local digs; J. J. Hensley is excellent at harnessing his own law enforcement knowledge and infusing it into a dramatic, nail-biting drama of the consequences of lost loved ones; both Channing and the man he seeks to take down have this experience in common, which makes for a dynamic showdown later in the novel.

Not only did I love the story, but I also truly enjoyed these characters; in their own way, Lambert, Channing, their comrades and enemies are all dealing with losses in their lives; their work is a way for them to cope with these losses and, for some of them, a way to redeem themselves. Along with the gravity of the case he is working on, Lambert definitely is a spark that helps ignite Channing's desire to clean up his act; he returns to running and decides that he is willing to work his way through the grief of his lost partner, while using the knowledge of that experience to get into the mind of his newest adversary.

This novel would make an excellent movie and I'd really like to hear more from these characters (hint, hint, J.J. Hensley!); this is a great book to add to your fall reading list and, if your experience is anything like mine, you'll be wishing for more. Runners and readers alike will enjoy this new release and I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.
Profile Image for Sheila.
Author 78 books181 followers
July 28, 2015
What’s the difference between a god addict and a believer? And who most needs the help of a 12 step program? The wounded characters of J.J. Hensley’s Measure Twice range from a woman concerned the color of her skin might adversely affect promotion, to a man so wounded that death seems the only way forward. The author pits two men against each other in a novel that’s part mystery, part police procedural, part psychological thriller, and wholly haunting, a vivid human drama.

Salvation comes in many different guises, and hope can be as simple as a question asked and answered. In this tale, the unready detective works through twelve steps of both healing and detection, while his antagonist, like a careful artist, always measures twice. A novel that measures the underworld of suffering and poses haunting questions of creation and destruction, this is a tale where injuries hurt, the wounded don’t make immediate recoveries, and relationships, even good ones, are complex, painful and entirely believable.

With great dialog, well-balanced human horror and genuine humor, powerful characters, and interesting touches of moral questioning and social commentary, plus a truly page-turning sense of urgency and mystery, this is the sort of book that keeps you reading and stays with you long after the story’s done.

Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy and I offer my honest review.
Profile Image for Christi.
1,065 reviews6 followers
May 31, 2017
After a bunch of dud books full of whiny female heroines, I needed a good thriller featuring a detective with a drinking problem.

Measure Twice did not disappoint. A really well-paced thriller with an interesting - which probably isn't the right word - serial killer. Why is this mild-mannered, God-fearing man on a methodical and ritualistic killing spree?

I really like how JJ Hensley uses Pittsburgh as a character in his books. While reading this book, we were watching the Stanley Cup Finals. NBC's footage of the Pittsburgh skyline clearly showed the the bridge near the baseball stadium that is described early on in the book. Having never been to Pittsburgh, I thought this was pretty neat.

I can't wait for his next book that will unite Keller from Resolve and Channing from Measure Twice. Should be a good one!
Profile Image for M. Sprouse.
464 reviews2 followers
October 31, 2020
I read J.J. Hensley's, "Resolve" last year and I'm afraid that one spoiled me. "Measure Twice" had a lot of the same elements: fast paced action, excellent character development and a formidable villain, at least at the start. However, it lacked the mystery, the same level of incredible twists and suspense. The chapters were titled by the AA steps. It would have been nice if they'd been more obviously aligned with those 12 steps.

Here I am seemingly complaining about a 4 star book, that I thoroughly enjoyed. It actually was very good and I recommend it heartily. Definitely worth the read, just don't forget to put "Resolve" on your list. I plan on reading as many of Hensley's books as I can.
Profile Image for Edward Banchs.
Author 4 books3 followers
April 22, 2017
Very good read. I'm not one to usually dive into murder mysteries, but I'm glad I read this. The story grabbed me right away as I found myself reaching for this book every single second I could so I could see what happened next.

Some rather unexpected twists and deep dialogue kept this story interesting. The characters are a reason why I found this story remarkable; fresh-faced naïveté colliding with brash-tortured honesty make for wonderful character arcs.

Measure Twice is well worth your time.
Profile Image for Brian Malbon.
Author 2 books8 followers
October 7, 2014
Lester Mayton is a "God addict". His overzealous spiritual devotion at the expense of everything else in life led to the disintegration of his marriage. In order to perpetuate the series of brutal murders he has planned to get revenge for his wife's death, he must overcome his love of God.
Detective Jackson Channing is an alcoholic. His heavy hitting of the bottle after a devastating traumatic event led to the disintegration of his marriage. In order to catch the killer currently murdering city officials across Pittsburgh, he must overcome his love of booze.

What I liked the most about Measure Twice is the parallels between the two characters. Each chapter is given the heading of one of the famous "Twelve steps" for overcoming addiction, and both killer and cop are given point of view passages of equal length in which they mirror one another's actions as well as relating to the title of the segment. This gimmick doesn't really go anywhere and is almost totally absent by the last chapters, but at the beginning it's a terrific way to meet the characters and draw the reader into their world.

Channing's interaction with his prickly partner Tina Lambert is also terrific, and their interplay as they grow to trust and even like each other over the course of the investigation is well-done, even if their mutual hostility springs from the tried-and-true tactic of making sure that if the problem could be solved by a single conversation then they must never even come close to having that conversation. In effect, Channing's growing relationship with Lambert is a source of a lot of the humour of the novel as well as some well-drawn out exposition on Channing's past and what has made him so broken.

I didn't like the ending, but the caveat here is that I never like the ending of any mystery novel. As the numerous possibilities boil down to just one and all the facts are laid out on the table, it always seems that no matter how diabolical and terrifying the killer is, his motivations turn out to be so banal (to be fair, this is true of real-life mysteries as well. The mystique of Jack the Ripper was that we never knew who he was. If he really has been identified by modern DNA evidence, it kind of ruins the entire story). And while I didn't really buy Mayton's transition from charitable, kind, prayerful godliness to sadistic killer who is far too good at what he does to be a newbie, the fact remains that as that sadistic killer he is fairly exciting to read.

Overall it was a fast read, a definite page-turner and had some moments of truly inspired imagery.
Profile Image for Rose.
37 reviews
November 7, 2018
Hensley has created a well-plotted and executed thriller in Measure Twice. His characters have depth and believability and using the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as chapter headings was a clever device.

Because I'm a Pittsburgh native, I always love novels set in our city; the recognition of the familiar settings make the descriptions come alive for me. Kathleen George created a series of cop tales set here which hooked me, and now that I'm on to Hensley, I plan to read the rest of his work.

I previously read Hensley's Bolt Action Remedy, which featured a different troubled Pittsburgh ex-cop character, and my only slight disappointment with Measure Twice was that it lacked the wry humor that endeared me to Bolt Action Remedy. However, the plot here is serious and grim, so I suppose there wasn't much room for humor. While I'm used to carnage and some amount of gore as a mystery aficionado, I cringed at the descriptions of torture and suffering. Of course, with words like "brutally tortured" and "sadistic" in the description, how was I to know?

Both books featured competent female law enforcement officers that weren't defined by long legs and sexy smiles, and in neither plot did they inevitably fall into bed with the main character. Could Hensley possibly respect women as professional equals, not targets for the main character's libido? Egads!

I think I'll add Hensley to my list of top ten mystery writers. He'll have to take the tenth slot, but given that the first nine are royalty like Denise Mina and Tana French, hopefully, he'll understand.
Profile Image for Katelyn.
59 reviews
December 19, 2014
I LOVED this book! I may be slightly biased as I am a Pittsburgher, but I think that made it so much better, as I could picture all of the locations that Channing/Lambert and Mayton were at.

I also really enjoy how J.J. incorporates the overall theme of the novel into his chapters. For example, his first novel, Resolve (which if you enjoyed this one, I highly recommend), had 26.2 chapters because it revolved around a murder during the Pittsburgh Marathon. Measure Twice has 12 chapters because it focuses on addiction.

I also thought that J.J. developed all of the characters very nicely - I felt a connection with each of them, and couldn't put the book down until I finished it.

Because I enjoyed this book so much, I want to go back and read Resolve again since it's been a while. I can't wait to read more of J.J.'s novels.
Profile Image for Marc Fitch.
Author 29 books33 followers
July 28, 2016
Pittsburg becomes the canvass for a killer's work of revenge art. Keeps you reading, some beautiful twists, but one of the best aspects of this novel is the "insider information" that you get. If you read the author's bio you understand that he has a lot of experience in law enforcement and has probably seen his share of political corruption that is hidden largely from public eyes. Those insights gave the book a greater sense of authenticity. You know them when you seen them because any other writer would have given his/her reader something generic. Definitely worth the read.
69 reviews2 followers
May 24, 2020
A great thriller. Well written.
26 reviews
April 4, 2015
This is the second book by this author (JJ Hensley)I have read and have to say I really enjoy his books.

Measure Twice is a great book and a very exciting read. I particularly liked the backstory of a detective facing his past demons and trying to overcome them. It rounded out what could have been a stereotypical "tough cop" character.

I hope there is more to come from definitely JJ Hensley as I enjoy his writings immensely.
Profile Image for Keri.
4 reviews
November 6, 2014
I loved this book! Although the killer's identity is revealed right from the start, it was a suspenseful read that I could not put down! The characters are so well-developed and I was disappointed when it ended because I wanted to spend more time with Jackson Channing. He and Lester Mayton are both damaged men who are easy to sympathize with when you learn of their personal tragedies. JJ Hensley scores a big win with this book and I can't wait for the next one!
Profile Image for Holly.
681 reviews24 followers
August 6, 2015
I really enjoyed Hensler's previous book, Resolve, and have been looking forward to reading this book. There were a few gruesome scenes that gave me nightmares and I laughed out loud at least once, but the humanity in the novel is what I enjoyed the most. The addiction, the guilt, the loss and the empathy shown gave this story much more depth and life than your average mystery.
Profile Image for Sharon.
94 reviews1 follower
November 28, 2014
whoa. this blew my mind. so much going on here to think about. saw a lot of archie sheridan in jackson. wow. superb writing. accessible but with a lot of depth of character and plot. I might never look at the incline the same way.
Profile Image for Carla.
108 reviews
December 28, 2015
Another fantastic book by JJ Hensley. Like his first book Resolve, I once again enjoyed his unique twist on chapters. Great for lovers of mysteries and lovers of Pittsburgh, I highly recommend.
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews

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