Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And Robak Weeps

Bill Crider alerts us to the death earlier this week of Joe L. Hensley, a former Indiana state legislator, trial judge, and science-fiction writer turned crime novelist, who for the last 30 years, has been developing an exceptional series of novels featuring a wily Indiana circuit judge named Don Robak. Reviewing the 12th and most recent installment of that series, Robak in Black (2002), January Magazine critic Karen G. Anderson wrote:
The perils of writing a thriller are legion--from hyperbolic prose to an inconvenient pileup of dead bodies that beggars belief--but author Hensley squeaks past with the grace of an attorney winning a case by virtue of a well-spotted loophole. You’re not quite sure how he did it, but you want to applaud. Hensley, who’s been crafting Robak stories since 1971 (Deliver Us to Evil was the first entry in this series), is in a class with masters like Archer Mayor, K.C. Constantine, Sue Grafton and James Lee Burke when it comes to capturing the menace of small-town conspiracies and the courage of a small-town sleuth.
According to a shockingly brief obituary in The Indianapolis Star, Hensley was 81 years old when he died on the morning of Monday, August 27. In a separate note, renowned science-fiction author Harlan Ellison worries that Hensley, who he describes as “a staunch, talented friend I could not have loved more were he my brother,” has already been forgotten by readers.

Well, not by this page. Not on this day.

UPDATE: More details having to do with Hensleys career and funeral arrangements can be found here. And Ed Gorman shares his memories of the late author here. Pulpettis Juri Nummelin has a unique take on Hensleys demise here.

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