Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl (Character Interview / Book Review)

Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes back Wayne Zurl, author of A New Prospect, book 1 of the Sam Jenkins Mystery series!

Character Interview

Interview with Sergeant Bettye Lambert of Prospect PD.

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 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

Book Review

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
ISBN: 1935605720
Genre: Mystery

BUY THE BOOK: A New Prospect

BUY THE SERIES: Sam Jenkins Mysteries

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.

Book Description:

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.

Book Excerpt:

Three weeks earlier my friend, Adolph, an urologist from New York, sent me a free sample of a half-dozen Cialis tablets. At 6:30 I popped one, thinking that Kate’s promise of a snuggle wasn’t just an idle comment, but sort of a bonus for going out and getting myself real job.

Sitting in the restaurant, I remembered the TV commercial—the one where two lovers sit in separate bath tubs on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, looking off into the sunset. Weird but memorable.

Following the instructions from that commercial, I didn’t indulge in excess alcohol consumption after taking Cialis. I drank one twelve-ounce draft of Dos Equis. Kate, who didn’t have to worry about any warning, ordered a bowl-like glass of frozen Margarita. After getting a little giggly she held my hand on the way home.

As I topped a hill on US 321, I noticed an old Ford Tempo in the turning lane waiting to make a left onto Gateway Road. Five or six cars coming from the opposite direction prevented the Tempo driver from doing that. A short break in the cluster of westbound vehicles opened up before the last car would pass the Tempo.

For some ill-fated reason, the woman in the Ford began her turn directly in front of a new Camry going at least sixty. The old Tempo didn’t have the pick-up to clear the two westbound lanes before the driver of the blue Toyota, talking on her cell phone, crashed broadside into the right front door of the Ford.

Driving in the left lane doing fifty-five, I watched the Tempo propelled backward and at an angle that would quickly intersect with us. I nailed the brake pedal of Kate’s Subaru as hard as I could, immediately pulled my foot back off, and simultaneously threw the steering wheel hard to the right and hit the gas. The little Outback zigged right. I twisted my upper body, now to the left, again jerking the wheel. The car zagged left, avoiding the spinning Tempo. I hit the brakes hard again and brought our car to a squealing stop in the eastbound, right-hand lane. The collision sounded deafening and the squeal of brakes loud and high pitched. I smelled rubber burning as the Subaru came to a stop. I pulled off onto the shoulder of the road, thankful I never forgot what I learned in the Emergency Vehicle Operation Clinic back in 1972.

“Are you okay?” I asked Kate, who always wore a seatbelt. She looked up at me, shaken but unhurt. She nodded. People ran out of the house just above where I stopped the car.

We had no cell phone with us. “Make sure they call 9-1-1, fast,” I said.

She unfastened her seatbelt and ran up the small hill to the lawn where two adults and a teenage boy stood by looking down toward the highway.

I jumped out of the Subaru and ran over to the driver of the Ford, the closest vehicle to me. Other people drove by slowly, rubbernecking or stopping to help. A burly, bearded guy parked his pick-up behind the Tempo and switched on his four-way flashers. I jerked open the driver’s door of the Ford—she hadn’t worn a seatbelt. The old car had no air bag.

Clearly, her head bounced off both the side window and the windshield causing great spider-like breaks in the glass now pushed outward by the force of the driver’s skull. The woman’s head hung at an unnatural angle, something I’d seen before in similar situations. I placed three fingers over her carotid artery, but had little hope of finding a pulse. I felt nothing. I shook my head, looked at my bearded assistant, and said, “She’s dead, let’s go.” We ran to the Camry.

Another car stopped, blocking one lane of traffic. A young man went to the Toyota and tried without luck to open the driver’s door.

“We’ll handle this,” I said, pointing at the car door. “Back your car up about a hundred feet and put on your lights and four-ways. No one down the hill can see us up here. Try to get traffic to slow down.” He hesitated. “Do it! Quickly!” He moved.

The Camry’s door jammed shut after the front end impact; the side window shattered and broke out completely. I pulled on the door frame. Nothing happened.

“Watch out!” the big guy told me. He pulled the door open almost an inch-and-a- half, just enough to get his fingers between the frame and the jamb. With two hands locked around the frame and his foot braced on the side of the car, he pulled again and gave a loud grunt. The door moved.

“A li’l he’p here.” He panted, straining against the twisted metal.

We positioned ourselves so we could both pull, and on his signal we did. The door moved more, now almost half-way open; enough room for me to squeeze in and get to the driver. I felt for a pulse, found one, and tried to open her seatbelt. The buckle had jammed. I pulled a knife out of my pocket, pressed a button, and the sharp, spring-loaded blade locked open. I cut the lap and shoulder straps that restrained the driver. She moaned. The big guy slapped my shoulder.

“Hey!” he said, and pointed to a puddle of gasoline forming around my left foot.

I nodded—he knew I understood. He jerked the door open a little more. I put my arm behind the driver’s back and gently drew her toward me. She was young and lightweight. Keyed up from the excitement and with adrenaline pumping through my body, I easily extracted the girl from the car. I had her half-way out when the bearded man took over and hefted the burden from me.

We moved forty feet behind the Toyota where he laid her down on the blacktop. The big guy balled up his shirt and placed it under her head. I heard sirens, both nearby and in the distance. There were two types, the screams and yelps of police cars and the steady, high—low sound of a Rural Metro ambulance.

I looked up and saw flashing blue lights just behind the Tempo. Another man and a woman who said she was a nurse joined the big guy who comforted our victim. I got up and ran toward the source of the blue light, a white and green county sheriff’s unit. A young cop with a crew-cut and a mustache got out, first adjusting his campaign hat and then his gun belt. He walked slowly toward me.

“Quick, give me your fire extinguisher,” I said, almost out of breath. “Then get some flares or cones down that hill to warn traffic.”

“Jest who the hell you think you are?” he asked, with a dose of attitude.

I hesitated for a second, took a step closer, and raised my voice, “I’m the goddamned Chief of Prospect PD. Give me that extinguisher, now!”

He hustled back to his car and pulled out an oversized portable fire extinguisher. I pulled the pin, sprayed the puddle of gas, and exhausted the rest of the foam inside the engine compartment, hoping to ward off a fire. The cop watched me.

“I told you; get back down the hill with some flares or cones! I don’t want someone parking in your goddamn trunk at sixty-miles-an-hour.” He moved out smartly.

Two other police cars pulled up, a county sergeant and a state trooper. I stepped over to the supervisor.

“Sarge, you’ve got one DOA in the Tempo, a critical on the ground over there,” I pointed toward the victim, “a nurse is helping her. You’ll need the fire department for a wash-down—gasoline’s under the Camry. You also want a car with lights down the hill to the east, and you might need a couple of guys to direct the traffic.” I began loosing breath.

“You done this before?” he asked with a grin, as he unhooked a portable radio from his gun belt. He didn’t know me, but I’m sure he recognized a cop speaking.

I smiled and nodded. “Yeah, once or twice.”

The sergeant began talking to his dispatcher.

As he spoke into the radio, an ambulance weaved slowly onto the scene, the driver looking for a safe place to park. All the pros were arriving. I walked over to the trooper, gave him my name and phone number, and volunteered a witness statement when the county dicks got around to wanting one. I considered my job finished.

I crossed two lanes of eastbound traffic trying not to get hit by a rubbernecker. Feeling exhausted, I trudged up the small rise to fetch my wife.

Back on the highway, we settled into the car, Kate fastened her seatbelt. I took a deep breath. After a few seconds I switched on the ignition and put the car into drive.

Kate asked, “And you want to do this for a living again?”

I shrugged. “I’m just glad this Cialis lasts for thirty-six hours. Who wants to waste a ten dollar pill if you get interrupted?”

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!



  1. Hi Kathleen,
    I guess I'd better get busy and write another book....I just love to read your reviews. Thanks again for being so kind to my buddy Sam Jenkins.
    All the best,

    1. Hi Wayne! Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host another virtual book event for your Sam Jenkins Mystery series. This is a great whodunit series, keep em coming! :)