Heroes & Lovers

Mar 25, 2013 by

Heroes & Lovers

heroes-and-lovers-coverSam Jenkins might say, “Falling in love is like catching a cold. It’s infectious and involuntary. Just don’t sneeze on any innocent people.”

Getting kidnapped and becoming infatuated with a married policeman never made TV reporter Rachel Williamson’s list of things to do before Christmas. But helping her friend, Sam Jenkins with a fraud investigation would get her an exclusive story.

Sam’s investigation put Rachel in the wrong place at the wrong time and her abduction by a mentally disturbed fan, ruined several days of her life.

When Jenkins learns Rachel has gone missing, he cancels holiday leaves, mobilizes the personnel at Prospect PD, and enlists his friends from the FBI to help find her.

During the early stages of the investigation, Sam develops several promising leads, but as they begin to fizzle, his prime suspect drops off the planet and all the resources of the FBI aren’t helping.

After a lucky break and a little old-fashioned pressure on an informant produce an important clue, the chief leads his team deep into the Smoky Mountains to rescue his friend. But after Rachel is once again safe at home, he finds their problems are far from over.

Purchase books and eBooks from:

Purchase from Amazon

Purchase from Barnes & Noble

Read An Excerpt

The sixty-degree temperatures of several days earlier had cooled slightly. The cloudless Wedgwood blue skies we‘d been enjoying had turned to a muddy, hazy gray hanging over Prospect. The pollution of Knoxville and Oak Ridge had been blown southeast by the prevailing winter winds. When we pulled up at the repair shop, it took me less than a minute to spot Elrod sitting in his office reading a magazine. Another young man worked on a pick-up truck in the garage bay and two others sat on folding chairs nearby, drinking soda from cans, talking with him. We sat twenty yards from the open garage door and heard a radio playing. Someone lamented the loss of his girlfriend and contemplated his exodus to San Antone. The song didn‘t sound like one of the icons of country and western to me.

Len Alcock, Bobby John Crockett, and Stan Rose pulled their marked police cars curbside, blocking the driveways after Junior and I drove up to the office door. The two soda drinkers were about to run when Alcock and Crockett put the arm on them.

Stanley rousted the mechanic, a guy who looked like he ate pit bulls for breakfast, before he could hide in the supply room off the work area.

Junior followed me into the office. I walked up to a scarred and dented gray metal desk. An open bag of pork rinds lay on top, next to a two-liter bottle of Mello Yello. A half-eaten corn dog hid in a wrinkled wrapper.

“Hi there,” I said. “I‘ll bet you‘re Elrod Swaggerty, aren‘t you?” He was a thin, shady-looking character with short hair and side-burns ending below his earlobes. His dark blue mechanic‘s outfit hadn‘t seen soap in a long time. Elrod eyed me for a few seconds and then shifted his look to Junior and back again to me. If he didn‘t assume I was a cop, he was more mentally bereft than I anticipated. “That‘s me.” His voice cracked a little as he tried a nervous smile. “The Elrod Swaggerty?” I started to enjoy myself. “Uh-huh, whot‘s up?” I held up a copy of the arrest warrant for him to see. “I know you were hoping Officer Huskey and I came from Publisher‘s Clearing House and we were about to give you a check for a million bucks, but I‘m sorry to disappoint you.” I heard Junior try to stifle a laugh, which came out like a combination snicker and snort from a clogged sinus passage. I should have remembered to smack him when we finished, but didn‘t. Someone in the garage turned off the radio, stopping the Nashville sound. “Elrod, my friend, you‘re under arrest,” I said. “Whot fer? I didn‘t do nuthin‘.” “You just committed a double negative in public. If you didn‘t do nothing, you must have done something. May I take that as an admission of guilt?” “Huh? Do whot?” He was almost gasping. “Elrod, son, you have the right to remain silent. I suggest you avail yourself of that right before I feel compelled to flatten your head with a brick.” “Hey now, don‘t go gettin‘ mean an‘ hateful on me, I really didn‘t do nothin’.” “Pal, you haven‘t seen hateful yet,” I said. “We‘re only having a spirited conversation here. If you see me call in a helicopter or break out a field phone with little alligator clips attached to wires, you may infer I‘m going to get nasty.” I heard Junior giggling behind me. I should tranquilize him the next time we go on an arrest. “Let‘s go, guy, on your feet. Time to put the cuffs on,” I said. “Cuffs? Are you crazy? I said, I ain‘t done nothin‘.” When he stood, I gave him a push and moved him up against the wall behind his desk. Just to the left, hung a two-foot-tall calendar showing a girl in a bikini, holding a gallon can of anti-freeze, stand-ing next to a shiny black Mustang with the hood raised. “Assume position one, Elrod. Hands on the wall and walk your feet back some.” Elrod seemed familiar with the steps to that dance. I took hold of his belt and backed him up even more, and then I used my right foot to spread his legs wider. “I‘m going to search you now,” I said. “Is there anything in your pockets or on your person that is a weapon or might cut me, stick me, or in any other way piss me off?” “Do whot?” he croaked again. “Now listen carefully, Mr. Swaggerty, these are not multiple choice questions, just a simple true or false. Do you have a weapon or something sharp on your body?” “I got me a folder on my belt—that‘s it, it ain‘t concealed.” I removed a cheap knock-off of a Buck lock-back knife from a beaten-up leather pouch on his belt and handed it to Junior. I finished patting him down, put cuffs on him, double locked them, and brought him back to the position of attention. “Whot am I charged with? I got a right ta know!” he crooned. “Larceny by inveiglement—four times and scheme to defraud.” “Do whot?” Obviously, vocabulary hadn‘t been one of Elrod‘s favorite subjects. When Junior and I walked our prisoner out to the car, I saw John Leckmanski filming the festivities from a discrete distance, far off Elrod‘s property.

I looked toward the garage area and thought Stan and the boys also hit the jackpot. Elrod‘s three minions were in cuffs, too. Stan found the mechanic with a shirt pocket filled by a baggie brimming over with the evil weed. The guy drinking Dr. Pepper was wanted on a Blount County Traffic warrant for failure to pay fines, and the lad with the Mountain Dew was named on a bench warrant from the Rockford Justice Court for failure to appear. The two cops would transport the prisoners. Stan Rose would stay to secure the scene and inventory any cash found in the office. The time involved in messing with Elrod‘s mind and processing his arrest would take us well beyond the 3:30 deadline for arraign-ments. Swaggerty would spend the night as a guest of Prospect PD and be transported to the county justice center in the morning. I timed the arrest that way for two reasons. I thought of Elrod as a first-class scumbag who needed to remember you don‘t screw around in Prospect. And second: I wanted to give my favorite TV newsgirl time to catch him tomorrow after he made bail and see if she could get an interview during the morning light.

When Rachel and I spoke, I suggested she attend the arraignment. She and John could watch the judge set bail, but because the county deputies and court officers may be less enamored with good-looking female reporters than I am, they wouldn‘t let her get close to the defendant. I thought they should wait in the Justice Center parking lot until Elrod‘s release and follow him back to Prospect, when he‘d undoubtedly go to his shop and check on the status of the working capital he left behind. There he‘d find a copy of the search war-rant with an inventory of the confiscated or secured property.

I‘ve lived to regret that suggestion ever since.

read more

Related Posts


Share This

A Leprechaun’s Lament

Mar 25, 2013 by

A Leprechaun’s Lament

leprechaun-coverA new full-length Sam Jenkins mystery

A stipulation of the Patriot Act gave Chief Sam Jenkins an easy job; investigate all the civilians working for the Prospect Police Department. But what looked like a routine chore to the gritty ex-New York detective, turned into a nightmare. Preliminary inquiries reveal a middle-aged employee didn’t exist prior to 1975.

Murray McGuire spent the second half of his life repairing office equipment for the small city of Prospect, Tennessee, but the police can’t find a trace of the first half.

After uncovering nothing but dead ends during the background investigation and frustrations running at flood level, Jenkins finds his subject lying face down in a Smoky Mountain creek bed—murdered assassination-style.

By calling in favors from old friends and new acquaintances, the chief enlists help from a local FBI agent, a deputy director of the CIA, British intelligence services, and the Irish Garda to learn the man’s real identity and uncover the trail of an international killer seeking revenge in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Available in hardcover, paperback & eBook formats

Purchase from Amazon

Purchase from Barnes & Noble

Read An Excerpt

I think about the little guy often. Murray McGuire looked like a leprechaun. He played darts like a pub champion and drank stout like a soccer star. If you worked for the city of Prospect and found problems with a piece of office equipment, Murray would work tirelessly to remedy your troubles.

But after I interviewed him for thirty minutes, I could have cheerfully strangled the little bastard.

Thanks to Murray, I’ll always look over my shoulder with a modicum of trepidation. I have dreams about a beautiful redhead I could do without. And I remember an incident best forgotten every time I see a turkey buzzard.

For days I thought of Murray as the man who didn’t exist.


read more

A New Prospect

Mar 25, 2013 by

A New Prospect

A New Prospect, By Wayne Zurl (cover art)Forget Black Friday. Get a great deal on this Sam Jenkins mystery every day. IT’S FREE !

Prequel to all the Sam Jenkins mysteries. Meet Sam, Kate, Bitsey, and the entire cast from Prospect PD for the first time.?

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 has received Eric Hoffer (2012) and Indie Book Awards (2011). It was a finalist for a First Horizon Book Award and a Montaigne Medal.

Purchase from Amazon

Purchase from Smashwords

Purchase from Barnes & Noble

Read An 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?”

read more

Related Posts


Share This