Upon being released after three years of incarceration in a psychiatric facility, former narcotics detective and unlicensed PI Trevor Galloway has no idea how to begin picking up the pieces of his shattered life. Having lost the woman he loved and exacting revenge upon those responsible, he is irreparably broken, heavily medicated, and unemployable.
When former Secret Service agent Nick Van Metre knocks on Trevor Galloway’s door, the last thing he expected was a job offer. However when the head of Metal Security hands Galloway a stack of photos and asks for his assistance with investigating a series of threats against a controversial presidential candidate, the former detective is stunned.
Galloway initially takes the case, but eventually has to question his own sanity after he reports an encounter with intruders who seem to have left no trace in his home. When Nick Van Metre turns up dead and an attack is carried out against Dennis Hackney, the former detective with a history of extreme violence becomes the focal point of multiple investigations.
Galloway pulls clues from photos and searches for answers while dodging bullets in Pittsburgh and Savannah.
Get set for a mystery told at a breakneck pace, with each of the chapters being linked to photograph in roll of film.
Look for the hints. Watch for the signs. Trevor Galloway doesn’t trust himself. Can you trust him?
The answers won’t be revealed until the final photo is flipped.
Praise for FORGIVENESS DIES:
“Is someone setting Trevor Galloway up, or is his own mind deceiving him? Forgiveness Dies puts a uniquely fascinating protagonist—a detective who can’t trust his own perceptions—into a complex political thriller, and the result is propulsive. Hensley starts with a punch, and accelerates from there.” —Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Judgment and The Switch
“Inventive storytelling meets propulsive action in this wild thrill ride from J.J. Hensley, who brings real-life experiences to the page and delivers an authentic tale of double-crosses and dirty dealings. Don’t worry if you haven’t stepped into Trevor Galloway’s shadowy world yet…start right here, and you’ll soon want to read them all!” —Daniel Palmer, USA Today bestselling author of Stolen and Saving Meghan
“A snapshot of humanity in perfect focus. Edgy, furiously paced, raw. From the whip-smart dialogue to the deeply flawed characters, Hensley has a voice that will stay with you long after the final exposure.” —K.J. Howe, author of The Freedom Broker and Skyjack
“Forgiveness Dies is a non-stop, gut churning thriller that you’ll read in one sitting. Hensley has conceived a brilliant but almost fatally flawed protagonist in Trevor Galloway, a man so tormented by his past that in the battle for truth and justice he’s forced to fight enemies that are dangerously real, and some that only real to him. J.J. Hensley is one of the best thriller writers out there, and he sits at the top of my must-read list.” —Mark Pryor, author of the Hugo Marston series
“With Trevor Galloway, the tortured, likable protagonist of J.J. Hensley’s Forgiveness Dies, Hensley has created a character destined to remain with the reader long after the last page is turned. Not only that, but readers will find themselves inextricably pulled into a tight plot that bears a brutally close, and necessary, resemblance to today’s America. Read this book, and you’ll want to read everything else Hensley has written.” —E.A. Aymar, author of The Unrepentant
Read an Excerpt
A cigarette dangling between his fingers, Dennis Hackney was leaning on a railing near an entrance ramp. A propped-open glass door is behind him and the angle of the photo indicates it was taken at ground level. A thin stream of smoke is drifting up from what he has called his only vice. The sixty-five-year-old man has spoken openly about his addiction to nicotine and has hinted he harbors animosity against those who profited by getting generations hooked on the poison. However, fearing repercussions from donors in the tobacco industry, he measures his words carefully when the topic is broached. Hackney was wearing a suit, but the tie had been loosened. He looked tired, but a polished kind of tired. Like a man who has worn fatigue all his life and knows how to wear it well.
According to Metal Security, the photo was taken after an event at the Sheraton in an area of Pittsburgh known as Station Square. The file doesn't describe the nature of the event, but with a man of Hackney's status, it could involve anything from a charity bene- fit to a meeting with his fellow titans of the financial industry. I don't have any reason to believe he was staying overnight at the hotel, as he has a mansion in Pittsburgh's North Hills.
Hackney's gaze seemed to be aimed to something in the distance. Something on or across the Monongahela River, I assume. The Mon flows between Station Square and downtown Pittsburgh. The file indicated the picture was taken during "cocktails," but Hackney doesn't drink. His wind-down activity was right there in his hand, its smoke made a perfectly vertical path to the heavens.
I had yet to activate my now-ancient model cell phone and had no landline, so two days after Nick and I had spoken, I walked to the convenience store at the end of the block, picked up the real-life functional pay phone on the side of the building, and called Nick to accept the job. We agreed on a fee that was probably fair and he sent me the case file via email. It seemed strange Nick had sent the information from what appeared to be a personal Gmail account rather than an official Metal Security one. His business card had listed an email address of NVM@MetalSec.com but maybe he used NickVM083@gmail.com for work functions as well.
Electronic copies of the photos weren't included, so the hard copies he'd given me would have to suffice. I'd love to say I started clicking on attachments enthusiastically and devoured page after page of information that would be critical to the case. However, the attachments Nick had sent my way seemed overwhelming to me and I struggled to comprehend the data. I closed out the email and opened up a window on the screen to compose a message of my own. On two separate occasions during the day I drafted poorly written replies to Nick in which I apologized and explained I had changed my mind about helping with the case. Each time I ended up deleting the message, but I still did nothing regarding the investigation other than go through the photos Nick had given me and jot down notes in a notepad. Other than my notetaking, I did nothing. Not on day on, day two, or on day three. On day four, I traded in my sweatpants for an old pair of blue jeans that were now a little large on me.
As if trying to push Hell away, I managed eighteen pushups. Not that many months before — yet a lifetime ago — I could easily crank out fifty before running three or four miles at a decent pace. Now I was winded. The moderate dizziness I felt when I got back to my feet subsided after a few seconds. I took this to be a good sign and decided my fifth day of semi-employment would actually involve trying to do the job I was hired to perform.
I delayed taking my morning dose of pills and downed strong coffee so I could make an attempt at reading Nick's case file with a clearish head. The desk chair squeaked as I rolled it back. I took a seat, and scooted myself up to the desk in my living room. I moved the gray mouse with my fingertips and the monitor buzzed to life. I opened the email from Nick and saw a list of IP addresses and locations, each associated with a number. The attachments to the email were all numbered and appeared as a separate list in a box at the top of the message. I clicked on the first attachment and it opened. It was a message from Chaerea to the email address attached to Dennis Hackney's campaign website. I la- bored through each word and my brain tried to assemble the words into coherent strings that held meaning. At first, the words were a jumble, nothing but a chaotic pile of shards left over from a broken stained glass window. I inhaled deeply and did my best to focus my mind. The shards started to form recognizable patterns and a coherent scene began to appear in front of me.
Date: January 2
Subject: I know who you are
I know you. I know you better than you know yourself. You see, the only version you have ever known is the one that exists now. Today. But you have been in and out of this world many times and in numerous forms. History has witnessed your conquests. Your expeditions. Your crusades. I see the road ahead and I see it so clearly. My view is clear because I've walked similar roads. Roads that have run parallel to yours. Roads you eventually became comfortable with seeing on the edge of your vision because to you they were just another part of the landscape. Each time this has occurred, your attention has drifted and you carried on down your path until my road intersected with yours. Sudden- ly. Violently.
There will be a distinction to our journey this time. With the benefit of hindsight, I will document our travels with images I will eventually disseminate to the world. Oh, yes. I will leave breadcrumbs for our future selves so hindsight can be made clearer still.
For you, this will seem like it's the first time we have come to know each other. But you are mine. Each and every time, you are mine. It's time for our tale to be told and for my narration to begin.
I leaned back in my chair and read the email three more times. As well as I could manage with my fuzzy cognitive skills, I dissected the structure, wording, and tone. Part of me had been hoping Nick had simply been throwing me a softball and that I'd read the email and discover Chaerea was doing nothing more than rambling about aliens or how the government was sending radio waves into our brains and how we are all being hypnotized into complacency. Nick would check in with me in a couple of weeks and I would have tracked down Chaerea to a homeless shelter where, after being confronted, he would admit to having sent the emails from an internet café — if those even still exist. None of it would be taken too seriously. While a threat with a disorganized thought process is still a threat, it's not nearly to the same level of dangerousness as one who can organize thoughts, conduct pre- attack surveillance, acquire the necessary resources, and carry out a strategic attack. That's not what I was looking at here.
The email in front of me was no softball, it was a grenade. While certainly being com- posed by someone with a seat on the crazy train, it was well-written, thoughtful, purposeful, organized, and direct. If the email was any indication, Chaerea was a legitimate threat.
I minimized Chaerea's message and glanced at the IP address list in Nick's email. The email had been sent from the Main Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. I knew that library. It was huge and had a fantastic collection of books. I knew that particular branch also had something else important. Cameras. They had cameras.
Deep inside, I felt a twinge. I wasn't sure, but I thought it might have been some whisper of something similar to what I used to feel when discovering I had a possible lead to follow. But the twinge was replaced with nausea when I envisioned my leaving the house and going to the library in an effort to convince staff members and security personnel to give me access to video recordings. It would be much easier if I was still a cop, which I was not and never would be again. However, I knew a cop. A big, persuasive cop who — for whatever reason — happened to like me. As a bonus, Chase wasn't opposed to doing a few things off the books. I still wasn't sure why Nick didn't want Pittsburgh PD involved officially, but I'd respect his wishes.
Realizing I needed to call Chase, I stood to go to the phone. Then I remembered I had never reactivated my home phone number. I would have called him from my cell phone, but I still hadn't activated it either. For all of Chase's qualities, he was notoriously bad about checking email. I sighed and looked at the front door I would have to pass through if I wanted to have contact with the outside world. For the first time in days, I spoke.
The David L. Lawrence Convention Center is recognizable from a distance because of its long roof resembling a set of ski jumps. However, locals will be quick to recognize the artificial waterfalls and water-covered steps on exhibit under a portion of building. The roadway next to the waterfalls is where Dennis Hackney was entering a limousine, a member of his security team holding the door open, undoubtedly ready to pounce at the first sign of trouble. Even the lack of color in the photograph cannot hide the expensive- ness of Hackney's suit and the crispness in his shirt. In spite of being captured in stride, his posture and mannerisms are magazine- model perfect.
He's leaving a manufacturing convention where he gave a thirty- minute speech before glad-handing with the region's economic elite. His eyes are cheerful, but that could be staged for any onlookers. The limo is facing the camera, and I know from the background and the positioning, the photo was taken from near the riverfront. There are a couple of blurry forms in the distance behind the limo, too far away to be recognizable. The only other person I can clearly make out in the photo is the security man holding the car door. There is a glare on the windshield and I can't see any part of the driver other than his hands and wrists.
Per Metal Security, the photo was taken a week after Hackney announced his intention to run for president. The manufacturing convention was likely a prime opportunity to so- licit donations while simultaneously proclaiming to be on the side of US companies and workers. Chaerea wouldn't have had any problem getting in a position to take the photo. The streets would be open and tourists with cameras are nothing new to Pittsburgh. It was an easy shot. A really easy shot.
"The library?" Chase asked as I stood in front of his desk. The burglary squad was located on the second floor of the department's headquarters on Western Avenue.
"Right," I answered while shifting back and forth on my feet uncomfortably. "The main branch."
I could feel the eyes on me and the glares I received weren't of the happy reunion sort. While the last part of my career with the department hadn't been celebrated, my departure was.
"You want me to go with you to the library?"
I felt sweat starting to form under my blue Under Armour sweatshirt. Thanks to my institutionally aided weight loss, I was able to slink out of my black leather jacket without any effort.
I draped the jacket over one arm and said, "Yes, the library. You are familiar with the concept of libraries, right?"
"Intimately," Chase scowled and crossed his tree trunk arms. Although it was freezing outside, he was wearing a short-sleeved polo shirt that made all of his arm tattoos visible. Of course at this point, a tattoo artist would have difficulty finding a section of blank canvas on his body. "And while I respect your love of the written word," he continued, "I am curious as to why you want me to join you."
"I have some questions to ask their staff," I said. "Questions."
"Questions like, 'Hey, do you have a copy of Six Days of the Condor available?'" "Possibly."
Chase's jaw tightened and his tone became foreboding. "Trevor." "Chase."
He was raising his voice and whoever had not been looking our way certainly was now.
He unfolded the tree trunks and leaned over his desk. "Tell me you're not working a case."
"I'm not working a case."
He leaned back slightly and started to relax. Then his skepticism kicked in. "Is that true?"
"Goddamn it, Trevor!"
He leapt up, causing his chair to roll backwards and slam into the front of another detective's, desk. All activity in the cubicle farm came to a halt. I couldn't remember if Chase was six feet four inches tall or six foot five. But at that moment, he appeared to be a full ten feet of rage.
Chase became we'd become the center of attention, turned his head side to side, and projected menacing glares at each of his colleagues. The room erupted with sounds as conversations resumed and keyboards were pecked. He leaned forward, placed his hands on the desk, and directed his stare at me.
He opened his mouth to speak, but I interrupted. "I know what you're going to say. You're going to say you think I'm not ready to start working cases again. You're going to say I'm rushing things and being reckless. You're going to tell me that I need to find a job I can perform in a detached manner so I don't become obsessed or overly stressed."
I paused. Chase didn't speak, but his expression did.
"Look. It's kind of an interesting case and it has nothing to do with drugs or murder.
You see, that guy Dennis Hackney who is running for —"
Chase lifted one of his hands and held up a single finger. To my surprise, it was his index finger. He reached into a desk drawer, removed a folder, laid it on the desk, and spun it around so the pages were facing my direction. Without saying a word, he opened the folder so I could see the contents. This wasn't an official folder, it was his personal folder. He started flipping through the pages one by one. He didn't give me time to read the details of the reports, but it wasn't necessary. The photos attached to the reports told the story.
The first pages included reports written on the day I was rescued from a sadistic drug gang that had held me captive and turned me into an addict. Seeing the photos of the chair to which I'd been strapped and the detailed images of my countless wounds and track marks hit me like a truck. The next few pages covered a cold case I'd been asked to investigate long after I'd been asked to leave the police department and not that long after I'd been forced to give up my job as an investigator with the district attorney's office.
The images paper clipped to the reports included not only the initial crime scene photos that were taken before I'd become involved with the case, but also images of a few more bodies — and parts of bodies — that had been taken after my arrival. There was also a mugshot of a man who had tracked me to a rural town and tried to kill me. Not my best memory. The next few pages covered my involvement in a case brought to me by a client who had asked to meet with me about her brother's unsolved murder. She concluded our meeting by putting a bullet in her brain. The final pages covered the reason I'd been in- carcerated and medicated for the past few years. There were photos taken from a bar — a hallway covered in blood, some of it mine. More photos from a store that repaired and sold record players and turntables. More death.
Chase hesitated, seemed to engage in some internal debate, and then flipped to the fi- nal item in the folder. It was a picture of Special Agent Jackie Fontree of the United States Secret Service. To me, she was simply Jackie. Her eyes were open. Her eyes were lifeless. I turned away and swallowed hard.
"Not this road," said Chase. "Not this time."
My eyes watered and I struggled to inhale. The pain and feelings of guilt I'd been try- ing to bury with medication and therapy sessions came rushing back.
My voice was failing, but I managed to whisper, "That's not fair." The anger drained from Chase's face. "No. But, it's real."
Chase retrieved his chair and we sat across from each other for half a minute before I said, "I don't know what else to do. I'm afraid of what will happen if I work cases, but I think I'm more afraid of what will happen if I don't."
Chase closed the folder on the desk.
He said, "Trevor, I don't know what will happen if you stop working cases. However, I know I can help you work thorough those issues."
"But I can guarantee what will happen if you do start working cases again," he said. "If I even suspect you are conducting an investigation, I'm going to arrest you for per- forming duties as an unlicensed private investigator and anything else I can dream up. I'll do whatever is necessary to lock you away — whether it be prison or a psychiatric unit. I'll put you away, Trevor. Because I love you, man."
I stood to leave and slid into my jacket. "And Trevor."
Excerpted from "Forgiveness Dies"
Copyright © 2019 J.J. Hensley.
Excerpted by permission of Down & Out Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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