At 68, Jason Hanson did something brand new.
The Alcona resident and “mostly” retired lawyer just penned his self-published debut novel, Double Track, which he describes as a mystery “police procedural, with a splash of romance.”
“What I had in mind was a recreational, entertaining book that could keep your attention while sitting by the pool, sitting on the beach or recovering from shovelling snow,” Hanson said. “It’s told from the perspective of two different police officers. I stumbled across the format … and thought that was a very straightforward way of telling the story. The female lead is the local deputy sheriff and she follows the book — she dots the ‘i’s’ and crosses the ‘t’s’. He is from the state’s special investigations unit (SIU) and cuts corners and his job is to hunt dirty cops. The overarching question is: Can they trust each other long enough to solve a crypto-crime before there’s a murder? It’s got a race-against-time element.”
He notes the backdrop for the story was influenced, in part, by two dark events — the murders of South Simcoe Police Service constables Devon Northrup and Morgan Russell in October 2022, and the deadly shooting spree that took place in Nova Scotia in April 2020.
“I tried to describe (police) risk-mitigation efforts as well as how they deal with the anxiety of those circumstances,” Hanson said. “The shortage of frontline officers plays a role repeatedly. While I don’t mention (constables) Russell or Northrup, early in the book, as the protagonist arrives in a new town, the desk sarge warns her about an officer who was caught in a deadly ambush a few weeks earlier. The Ontario (SIU) was very much a presence in (Innisfil) last fall. In the book ... there’s some tension between (the) SIU and regular officers because the SIU is investigating what happened.”
While the novel is set in Nebraska and Colorado, Innisfil residents may notice similarities between a few of the places detailed and some town locales.
“Local stories and atmosphere really contributed to the piece,” Hanson said. “People in Innisfil are certainly going to recognize the atmosphere, the customers and the whole vibe when they think of some local establishments.”
For anyone looking to write their first book, he recommends starting by writing 250 words per day. Hanson followed that methodology and found that by about the fifth chapter, he was producing at a much higher level.
“I wanted to find out what happened,” he said jokingly. “I didn’t have it carefully blocked off, but I wrote it following the story. I’m used to challenges. This is part of what I wanted to do. Life is short, no matter what your age is.”
Double Track is available in paperback and Kindle editions though amazon.ca.