April 15, 2012
PROSPECT, TENNESSEE is a sleepy-hollow type of town in the valley of the Smokie Mountains in Eastern Tennessee. It has a thirteen member Police Department, one female and one African-American, who happens to be a former LAPD Officer.
SAM JENKINS retired after twenty years as a Detective Lieutenant on the Suffolk County Police Department in Long Island, New York. A Veteran of Viet Nam, where he rose through the ranks from Private to an Officer, he took his 20 year retirment party, commendations, pension and a wristwatch, packed up his loving wife of 25 years and moved to a few acres of what he intended would be their little patch of earth providing peace and tranquility. Divorce and alcoholism is a serious 'occupational hazard' for Police Officers. Although Sam Jenkins sizes up the women who pass by him, I have no doubt he has never strayed, and his love for his wife is more important to him than anything. Kate plays a big role in his life. He is a really, lucky guy. Fourteen years of working his land, tending to his vegtable garden and making friends, he notices a job opening for "CHIEF" of the Prospect Police Department. He is hired immediately and will report directly to the boyish mayor, Ronnie Shields.
He is asked to begin work the following Friday. That is moved up by the 'retirement' of the foremer Chief, and Sam is asked to work starting on Thursday, and to work the Auto Show on Saturday. He agrees, after all, the Mayor had met his large salary and a new Ford Police Interceptor, unmakred police car demands. No one in Prospect had memory of a murder in Prospect. Yet, indeed, the murder of a wealthy and powerful contractor-homebuilder happens at the end of the Auto Show. Chief Sam Jenkins has no short list of suspects. Yet, he is ordered to relinquish the investigation to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations. He had solved more murders in his 20 years as a New York Cop than there were members of the TBI. Strange; he found it, the victim's family wanted him off the case.
Chief Sam Jenkins is immediately welcomed by his small cadre of police officers, and they form an aliegence to him quickly. With help of his 'volunteer' cops persist in conducting their own, 'discret' investigation. One problem Chief Jenkins faces early on is that one of his close friends is immediately considered a suspect, and eventually arrested by the TBI. Chief Sam knows in his ';gut', his friend is innocent.
A NEW PROSPECT is one of the very, very best books I have read about police work in quite some time. I discovered Author WAYNE ZURL here on Amazon and purchased "SCRAP METAL & MURDER", then "A MURDER IN KNOXVILLE", also by Author WAYNE ZURL. Now that I have read "A NEW PROSPECT", I know the back-story of "Chief Sam Jenkins", his devoted wife, "KATE", and the officers of Prospect Police Department. I enjoyed "SCRAP METAL & MURDER" and "A MURDER IN KNOXVILLE", now having read the first in this series, "A NEW PROSPECT", I also have "A LABOR DAY MURDER" and "BULLETS OFF BROADWAY", on my Kindle and I see there are a few more by this very prolific Author.
I know there is a long list of COPS who, in retirement, with nothing but time on their hands have turned to WRITING. Joseph Wambaugh, (Sgt. LAPD-Retired) jumps in my mind. AUTHOR WAYNE ZURL is, in my opinion one who has made the daunting challenge seem too easy. He is in the "BIG LEAGUE" of Detective Novelists. Having spent 14 years or so in Tennessee, he has even gotten their dialect down to a science. His character development, descriptions of every scene is perfect. Personally, I believe AUTHOR WAYNE ZURL is, in fact "CHIEF SAM JENKINS". I believe he has drawn on some of his actual cases and just moved them to Prospect, Tennessee.
"A NEW PROSPECT", "SCRAP METAL & MURDER", "A MURDER IN KNOXVILLE" each give the reader a really interesting mystery to read, and a lot of fun in the process. I cannot recommend this brilliant Writer too highly. FIVE STARS for each of the three books I have read, and I am eager to read his other works.
Miami Shores, Florida