Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Tennessee girl, born right here in Prospect. I attended Heritage High School, just down the road and graduated from Pellissippi State College. I began my career in law enforcement as a court officer at the Prospect Magistrate’s Court. When my first husband, PO Walt Hitchens, was killed by a drunk driver, I asked the mayor if I could fill his spot at Prospect PD. The chief back then wasn’t pleased about getting a female in his department, but the mayor liked the idea. Sixteen years later, the former chief was forced to retire and I met your friend, Sam Jenkins. I have two daughters from my first marriage and my husband Donnie and I have one son.
What do you remember about your first meeting with Sam Jenkins?
Sam came in early on the day he was getting sworn in as the new chief. His predecessor, Buck Webbster, opted to retire rather than getting indicted, but you can read about that fiasco in A New Prospect. Lord have mercy, but I was about beside myself that day. Buck took sick leave rather than finish out the week and clean up his mess. Instead, he left it for me. Around late morning, I looked up from my desk and found this big, good-looking guy smiling at me. He stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Sam Jenkins, your new boss.” I guess I must have looked like I felt, because he asked if I was having a bad day. I explained about all the work Buck had left me and how I’d been trying to get everything ready for when he was scheduled to arrive on Monday not Friday. He laughed and said in his New York accent, “They’re not paying you to act as police chief. Don’t worry; we’ll fix whatever is necessary together.” You don’t know how good that made me feel. After he took a tour of the police station, Sam went out and brought back lunch from the Chinese restaurant. He said it was tradition that the new guy buys lunch. He started out just fine and has been the best boss ever since.
Police Work can be dangerous at times. What do you remember as your most frightening moment?
There’s no doubt about that. Sam saved my life one day when we went out to make an arrest. You can read about that ordeal in A Leprechaun's Lament. I don’t want to spoil anything for a reader, but I’ll tell you this, less than two seconds of my life seemed like an hour. It was close, but bless his heart, Sam took care of everything.
We seem to be talking a lot about Sam. How would you characterize your relationship?
Some of the guys in the department call me Mom and Sam, Pop. Sergeant Stan Rose says I’m Sam’s workplace wife. I guess that fits, although occasionally he acts more like my little boy. Sometimes he does things . . . And I could just spank him. But if I said that, he’d only raise his eyebrows and smile.
Some people say Sam is a big flirt. What do you think?
Kathleen, Sam Jenkins flirts with women from five to a hundred-and-five years old. But he knows how to read a person and hasn’t picked the wrong woman yet. Even with all his talk, he’s a perfect gentleman and would do anything possible to help a damsel in distress.
More than once, Sam has said you’re the most beautiful desk sergeant on the planet. How does that make you feel?
Don’t tell my husband—like a princess. But I doubt Sam’s met all the desk sergeants on the planet.
Why did you become a police officer?
Honestly? When I asked for this job, I needed the extra money. My Walt had just died and I had two small girls to support. But after working as a cop for a while, I got to like the feeling you get after helping people in trouble. Since Sam’s gotten here, he’s sent me out on investigations. I wear plainclothes and feel like a detective. Sometimes we go out together and I learn from him. I’ll bet he was a great detective in New York. I get a sense of satisfaction working a mystery and helping to solve the case. If you believe all the stories about us, you’d think sleepy little Prospect has a higher crime rate than Detriot.
Do you plan to retire when you have your twenty-five years in?
That’s still a few years off. Thanks to Sam, Stanley Rose and I were promoted to sergeant. And Sam doesn’t plan to work forever. I could like being called Chief Lambert. Who knows?
Thank you Bettye for spending some time with me here on Jersey Girl Book Reviews! It was wonderful to chat with you in between your busy police duties and share some sweet tea!
About The Author
Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara.
Fifteen (15) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. Ten (10) of these novelettes are now available in print under the titles of A Murder In Knoxville and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries and Reenacting A Murder and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries. Zurl’s first full-length novel, A New Prospect, was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards, chosen as 1st Runner-Up from all Commercial Fiction at the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and was a finalist for a Montaigne Medal and First Horizon Book Award. His other novels are: A Leprechaun's Lament and Heroes & Lovers.
For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series go to www.waynezurlbooks.net. You can read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and see photos of the area where the stories take place.
A New Prospect - Book Trailer
A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl
Book 1 - Sam Jenkins Mystery Series
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: January 20, 2011
Format: Paperback - 276 pages / Kindle - 504 KB / Nook - 204 KB
BUY THE BOOK: A New Prospect
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BUY THE SERIES: Sam Jenkins Mysteries
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review, and for hosting a virtual book event on my book review blog site.
Sam Jenkins never thought about being a fish out of water during the twenty years he spent solving crimes in New York. But things change, and after retiring to Tennessee, he gets that feeling. Jenkins becomes a cop again and is thrown headlong into a murder investigation and a steaming kettle of fish, down-home style.
The victim, Cecil Lovejoy, couldn’t have deserved it more. His death was the inexorable result of years misspent and appears to be no great loss, except the prime suspect is Sam’s personal friend.
Jenkins’ abilities are attacked when Lovejoy’s influential widow urges politicians to reassign the case to state investigators.
Feeling like “a pork chop at a bar mitzvah” in his new workplace, Sam suspects something isn’t kosher when the family tries to force him out of the picture.
In true Jenkins style, Sam turns common police practice on its ear to insure an innocent man doesn’t falls prey to an imperfect system and the guilty party receives appropriate justice.
A New Prospect takes the reader through a New South resolutely clinging to its past and traditional way of keeping family business strictly within the family.
A New Prospect named the year's best mystery at the 2011 Independent Publisher's Book Awards.
My Book Review:
After twenty years on the NYPD, Sam Jenkins and his wife Kate leave New York behind to retire in the Great Smoky Mountain small town of Prospect, Tennessee. But his retirement doesn't last long when he accepts the position of the town's new Chief of Police. One would think that this is a cushy position in a sleepy little Appalachian town, and normally it would be ... except for the murder of a prominent real estate developer puts Sam on the case to solve the murder just two days into the job. And if that isn't bad enough, Sam encounters problems when influential people don't want him on the case ... and oh by the way, the murder suspect just happens to be one of Sam's friends. So what does a seasoned ex-NYPD Detective like Sam Jenkins do? Why he solves the case of course!
A New Prospect is the first book in the Sam Jenkins Mystery series. Author Wayne Zurl weaves an intriguing tale of mystery and suspense that keeps the reader guessing who the real killer is and how Sam will solve the case. Written in the first person narrative, Sam Jenkins takes the reader along for the ride as he goes about solving his first case as the Prospect Chief of Police. Sam is a sarcastic guy who has no problem saying exactly what he's thinking: his quick wit, sense of humor, friendly banter and sweet flirty side keeps the reader laughing out loud as the story unfolds.
Author Wayne Zurl engages the reader with a story that has a mixture of humor, intrigue, drama and suspense. His use of the local southern dialect stays true to the setting in the story, the reader feels like they are transported to the town of Prospect. I loved the fun banter that makes up the dialogue in the story, you can't help but get drawn into the story as the characters come to life. Sam Jenkins has a unique style of engaging his listeners as he tells about his new adventure that got him out of retirement.
With a quirky cast of characters; a rich description of the setting and the local dialect; and a suspenseful storyline full of twists and turns, A New Prospect is just the beginning of the thrilling Sam Jenkins adventures that readers will follow in the Sam Jenkins Mystery series!
With his prior extensive knowledge and experience of police procedure, author Wayne Zurl has created a realistic story and series that diehard of mystery / detective fans will crave to read.
A New Prospect and the Sam Jenkins Mystery series is simply an addicting whodunit mystery series that will turn mystery fans into Sam Jenkins fans!
RATING: 5 STARS *****