Festival of Felonies

Apr 19, 2022 by

Festival of Felonies

Cover of Festival of Felonies by Smoky Mountain Mysteries author Wayne ZurlFrom bizarre animal killings in HAVE YOU CONSIDERED VOODOO? to a grisly death by tomahawk in REENACTING A MURDER; follow veteran cop Sam Jenkins from his days as a young New York squad detective until his second career as a middle-aged police chief in the not-so-quiet Smoky Mountain community of Prospect, Tennessee in the series’ fifth anthology of realistic crime fiction.

In other segments of this collection, Jenkins is faced with investigating the aftermath of a mass murder at an elementary school in PAPER TRAIL, with proving one of his officers was justified in taking the life of an unarmed teenager in THE FERGUSON SHOOTING and finally, dealing with a conglomeration of eccentric suspects in one of the more humorous cases of arson he’s ever seen in A FIRE AND OLD ICE.

Authentic police work. Quirky characters. New York street smarts versus down home crime. If you like Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone, you’ll love Wayne Zurl’s Sam Jenkins.

For more in-depth summaries of each novelette, visit the anthologies sections of this site.

For more in-depth summaries please go to the novelettes section of this site.

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Read An Excerpt

From: PAPER TRAIL, chapter one

Sergeant Stanley Rose scrambled from behind his patrol car and moved clockwise toward the school’s rear entrance. When he reached a white Toyota parked near the corner of the building, he rested an Ithaca pump shotgun over the hood, pointing it at the admin office window. POs Junior Huskey and Harley Flatt scurried in the opposite direction until they found cover behind a Ford Fusion and a Chevy pickup. Junior carried a scoped Winchester model 70 and Harley an AR-15. Their khaki uniform shirts contrasted with the darker vehicles; their green trousers blended with the grass. Bobby Crockett and I remained at the side of the school behind my unmarked Crown Victoria, no more than sixty feet from the building. We carefully watched a young man hold the muzzle end of an AK-47 at the head of John Woolford, the assistant principal of the Lamar E. Shields Elementary School in Prospect, Tennessee, a small city generally said to be on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”

In addition to carrying an assault rifle, the grips of two high-capacity semiautomatics protruded from the gunman’s waistband. That much firepower turned a skinny kid into a formidable opponent.

I’m not a professional hostage negotiator, but I needed to establish contact and do something to keep the situation from swirling down the toilet. Using my cell phone, I called a landline in the school’s office.

Woolford picked up. “Yes?”

“John, Sam Jenkins, Prospect PD. Can I speak to the man with the guns?”

On the other end I heard, “The police chief wants to speak with you.”

The young man, who looked to be in his late teens or early twenties, was very thin and dressed all in black. After hearing the message, he pushed Woolford roughly into a chair and grabbed the phone. “What?” he said.

I identified myself and began a dialogue. “Tell me what you want. What can I do to work this out?”

His nostrils flared as he sucked air in through his nose; he took no time to reply. “I already done what I came here for. I got nothin’ more to say.”

As he dropped the phone onto the desk, I yelled, “Wait!”

Without further ado, he calmly squeezed the trigger of the assault rifle. The muzzle flashed and recoiled slightly, the cracking report was loud enough for us to hear outside the building as one 7.62 x 39 millimeter round travelled through John Woolford’s head. The young man showed no emotion, no more feeling for another living thing than if he had cut the head of a fish. For a moment afterwards, he looked out the window. His head turned thirty degrees to the right, then to the left, perhaps searching for the eyes of the last person with whom he spoke.

Who knows what a homicidal individual thinks? I’ve met plenty and can never figure them out.

The silent radio broke squelch, and Junior said, “I’ve got a shot.”

“Standby,” I said. “Let’s see what he does.”

The young gunman shrugged, turned the rifle, placing the muzzle between his lips, and put a bullet through the top of his head.

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Something for nostalgia seeking Brooklyn Dodger fans.

Mar 31, 2020 by

By Wayne Zurl

On September 24, 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field and I was there. Well, not exactly there—I watched the game on TV. I was eleven and had sprained my ankle the day before in gym class. My mother kept me home from school to let it heal.

The Dodgers’ second baseman Junior Gilliam just hit a high fly ball to shallow right field when I heard what I thought was a muffled backfire sound off close to our house. I looked out the window, but didn’t see a car running. Then a man about thirty or forty—as a kid, I had a hard time telling—slammed the side door at Mrs. Campbell’s house. It wasn’t Mr. Campbell. He jumped into a two-tone brown ’48 Chevy, one just like my father’s, and drove away. I went back to finish watching the game.

The cameras panned a small crowd of people scattered around the stadium. Vin Scully, the announcer, said only 6,700 attended—a drop in the bucket. The game ended when Pirates’ outfielder Bob Skinner grounded to short and Don Zimmer scooped it up and fired a bullet to Gil Hodges at first. End of an era. The Dodgers won the five-hitter two-zip, but no one in Brooklyn looked happy.

My mother was preparing a meatloaf when I pushed the curtains aside and saw two marked police cars parked in front of the Campbell’s house. As I peered out the window, a black ’55 Ford pulled into the driveway and an overweight guy in a gray suit and dark fedora stepped out.

I called to my mother, “Hey, Ma, what’s going on next door?”

She didn’t know.

Another dark four-door pulled up and two more suits got out. One carried a big Graphic Reflex camera and the other, a large tool box.

My mother stepped up behind me and looked over my shoulder.

“I’m going out there,” she said.

“Me, too.”

“You shouldn’t walk.’

“Sure I should.”

I hobbled after her and reached the sidewalk in front of Campbell’s home, just as a Nassau County patrolman left the house and approached his car. He looked short for a cop. His orange oval patch and powder blue tie contrasted sharply with the navy blue uniform.

“What happened?” my mother asked.

“Woman got killed.”

“She get shot?” I asked.

He looked at me for the first time and frowned. “Yeah, why?”

“I’ll bet I know who did it,” I said.

My mother stared at me like I was a Martian.

The cop smiled and shook his head. “Sure you do, kid.” He got into his car and drove away.

“What are you talking about?” Mom asked.

“I saw a guy run out of the house before.”

She grabbed my hand. “Come with me.”

The Campbell’s front door stood slightly ajar. Mr. Campbell sat on the sofa hanging his head. Mom knocked on the jamb and the overweight plainclothes cop opened the door. A gold shield hung from a leather fob on his jacket pocket.

“My son has something to tell you.”

He stepped outside and closed the door.

“This guy,” I said, “came out the side door and jumped into a car.”

“What guy?”

“I don’t know. Some guy. I never saw him before.”

“What time?”

“Not sure. Third inning?”

The detective looked confused.

I shrugged. “I was watching the Dodger game.”

“Oh.” He rolled his eyes.

“Was she shot?” I asked.

I must have seemed overly enthused. He scowled.

“Look, son, we’re pretty busy here. I hope you’re not fooling around.”

“He wouldn’t do that.” Mom always stuck up for me.

“What’s his name?”

I spoke for myself. “I’m Sam Jenkins. We live next door.”

“How old are you, kid?”

“Eleven and a half.”

“You look pretty big for eleven.” He pointed to the Ace bandage around my foot. “What happened?”

I told him, and then described the man I saw and his car.

“Okay, thanks. I’ll look into it.” The squad dick turned to leave.

“Hey, wait,” I said. “You want his plate number?”


If you enjoyed this short story about a young Sam Jenkins and would like to read more about his real career in law enforcement, how about a FREE copy of A NEW PROSPECT, the book that begins the long-running series? It’s won two awards and has over two hundred 5 star reviews. And the price is right. Just click the link and any eBook format is yours.
After that you’re on your own, and welcome to visit the squad room at Prospect PD anytime.


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Writing Guide for Young Authors

Feb 29, 2020 by

Many thanks to Denver Librarian Bethany Langston for sending me this information found by one of her writing students. The young lady wanted to share this other beginning writers who might stop by for a look at my links page. These future authors will be forever grateful to Amelia and her mom for sharing this good information.


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Writing Basics for Young Authors

Feb 29, 2020 by

Many thanks to Denver librarian Bethany Langston for forwarding this information from one of her young writing students. The young lady wanted to share this with other beginning writers who may stop by my links page. Those future novelists will be forever grateful to Amelia and her mom for sharing this good information.


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HERE COMES A MYSTERY selects Wayne Zurl as “One of the top 10 mystery/action writers you need to be reading.”

Feb 29, 2020 by

Author/blogger Caleb Pirtle III, proprietor of the successful blog HERE COMES A MYSTERY has chosen me as one of the top ten mystery/action writers you need to be reading. Wow! lucky me. Caleb has published more than 80 books, has worked as a reporter for a Texas newspaper, has been travel editor for Southern Living Magazine, has written two teleplays for the famous Kenny Rogers GAMBLER series and the screenplay for the TNT TV movie THE TEXAS RANGERS.

With those writing credentials, I feel honored for him to have picked me as one of his favorite mystery guys.

Linda Pirtle, Caleb’s wife and co-blogger At HERE COMES A MYSTERY has written three mystery novels herself. You can find both writers easily at amazon.com.

You can visit HERE COMES A MYSTERY and see my article here: Wayne Zurl at HERE COMES A MYSTERY

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