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Murder in a Wish-Book House by Wayne Zurl

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Murder in a Wish-Book House by Wayne Zurl Murder in a Wish-Book House by Wayne Zurl
Narrator: David Colacci
Series: Sam Jenkins
Published by Mind Wings Audio on August 10, 2011
Source: Audible Channels
Genres: Mystery
Length: 1 hr 14 mins
Format: Audiobook
Audible
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Chief Sam Jenkins investigates the murder of a Tennessee school teacher. All the facts point to a simple conclusion, the man's wife, an escaped mental patient, killed her husband to gain custody of their small daughter. With the help of his usual cadre of friends and co-workers, Sam devises a plan to lure the obsessed woman into a trap when she tries to kidnap the child from the foster parents caring for the girl.

Murder in a Wish-Book House is a novella that’s heavy on plot, light on character, but is definitely enjoyable and a good little mystery. Sam Jenkins is a police chief in small town Tennessee, but he used to be a New York detective so he’s got plenty of experience, friends on call and a bit of an attitude – all of which help him out here. The narrator does a great job with Sam, giving him a bit of that New York accent.

At first the mystery seems simple enough, but there’s a bit of a twist that worked well. Sam is used to knowing what’s going on, he’s good at reading people and tough to fool, but this time around someone gets the better of him.

There’s action, blood, some good dialogue. A lot’s crammed into this hour of audio. It’s available on the Audible mystery channel, free for members. I think it makes a nice introduction to the series, even though you don’t get to learn much about Sam’s cohorts.

About Wayne Zurl

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—not far from Prospect PD.

Review: Heroes and Lovers by Wayne Zurl

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Heroes and Lovers by Wayne Zurl is at heart one of the many, many police procedurals out there. I’ve read good ones and bad ones, ones I can’t remember and ones that have gotten stuck in my head for various reasons. So the question becomes what makes this one stand out? And it has to be Sam Jenkins, police chief of the small town of Propect, Tennessee.

Sam may be living in small town USA now, but he was a detective in New York City, so knows his way around investigations, but when what seems like a routine sting of a low-life repair shop owner ripping off women customers goes awry, Sam may be more emotionally involved than he should be. A good friend of his, perhaps a too close friend, TV reporter Rachel Williamson is kidnapped. Sam calls in the FBI, but of course being who he is, he retains as much control of the investigation as possible.

Sam is a charming man and he knows it. He has a penchant for doing impersonations and flirting with every attractive woman in sight. He’s also a hero, a man determined to save the day, arrest the bad guy, make sure the victims get the help the need. He might be a little over the top, but he makes me smile. I think this little bit of conversation between him and his sergeant, Bettye Lambert, kinda sums him up.

[Bettye said,] “Just please don’t do something like that again. I don’t want to lose you as a boss or a friend.”
“Well, shucks, little darlin’, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”
“Damn, but that sounded like John Wayne speaking. On the other hand, maybe I just imagined that.
“Sometimes, Sam, you are more than I can handle.”
“Well, sure, but I’m so derned cute, it shouldn’t matter.”
The woman actually growled at me. (pg. 87-88)

While the center of this mystery is first off who kidnapped Rachel and how can they rescue here, it also deals with emotions. Sam and his wife have been happily married for years, but his attraction to Rachel is more than a little distracting. Actually, I was a little annoyed by this. I didn’t picture Sam as a man who would take another woman out to dinner without at least mentioning it to his wife. It bothered me for parts of the book, but I like how Zurl wrapped it all up in the end, both the basic plot and the add-ons, the messier bits that make a story full and engrossing.

This is the third Sam Jenkins mystery I’ve read and I definitely enjoyed it. It would easily work as a stand alone, although like with most series, you get more feeling for the characters the more of the stories you read. I love the Smoky Mountains setting, the mix of local folks and Jenkins and his wife. A couple of minor complaints. I wish the proof-reading had been a little better. There were several glaring mistakes, not enough for them to disturb my reading but too big to just gloss over. Second, the characters speak in the local dialect, which is fine, but I felt like at times it was overdone, a little too many fers and darlin’s.

I’m also counting this as my first read for the winter holidays, even though I haven’t officially mentioned that I’m reading holiday books yet. It starts a few days before Christmas and ends just after New Years, so I’ll include a holiday quote, the first paragraph of the book.

The last thing I wanted to do just before Christmas wa tangle with a creep like Elrod Swaggerty. Unfortunately, a police officer has little choice of what or who dumped onto his lap. Our motti is, “To protect and serve.” Humbug.

4 out of 5 stars

Category: Mystery – Police Procedural

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Sam Jenkins #3
Published September 29, 2012 by Iconic Publishing
254 pages

Sam Jenkins Mysteries

Novels

  1. A New Prospect
  2. A Leprechaun’s Lament
  3. Heroes and Lovers

Novelettes

  1. A Labor Day Murder (included in A Murder in Knoxville and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries)
  2. By the Horns of a Cow (included A Murder in Knoxville and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries)
  3. Serpents and Scoundrels (included in A Murder in Knoxville and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries)
  4. Murder in a Wish-Book House (included in A Murder in Knoxville and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries)
  5. A Murder in Knoxville (included in A Murder in Knoxville and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries)
  6. A Fire and Old Ice (included in Reenacting a Murder and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries)
  7. Bullets Off-Broadway (included in Reenacting a Murder and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries)
  8. Scrap Metal and Murder (included in Reenacting a Murder and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries)
  9. Reenacting a Murder (included in Reenacting a Murder and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries)
  10. V is for Vitamin? (included in Reenacting a Murder and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries)
  11. Fate of a Floozy
  12. The Great Smoky Mountain Bank Job

Book source: For review

About Wayne Zurl

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—not far from Prospect PD.

Review: A Leprechaun’s Lament by Wayne Zurl

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A Leprechaun’s Lament is the second Sam Jenkins mystery by Wayne Zurl I’ve read. I expected it to be an enjoyable story and it was. Light, funny at times, a bit of danger, just an overall good read.

Same Jenkins, chief of police in Prospect, Tennessee, is a retired New York City Detective. He’s a charming man, a little bit of a fish out of wated in small town Appalachia, but he’s charmed his way into the hearts of the locals. He’s also a good boss and has gotten some grant money thanks to the Patriot Act to do a background check on the town’s civilian employees, which will also give his staff a little overtime money which is always appreciated. Things run into a snag however, when Typewriter Murray, the office equipment repair guy, seems to have shown up out of nowhere thirty years ago. No birth certificate, the high school he claims to have gone to never heard of him, no driver’s license, doesn’t pay property taxes. He claims confusion and doesn’t remember where his documents are and is basically driving Jenkins and his staff crazy. Then, he turns up dead, shot in both knees and the temple. Sam and his staff have to find out who this guy was, who wanted to kill him, and why, questions that lead Sam to use all his resources, from local folks to the FBI, CIA, and even British and Irish authorities.

The plot is put together well, with just enough suspects and twists and turns to keep me interested without feeling overwhelmed. Sam follows the clues logically and calls in help when he needs to. The Tennessee setting is beautiful, although maybe not as much of a focus as I would like it to be. I can picture driving on the lonely backroads with the beautiful scenery all around- and Sam does have a nice car to drive around in.

I have to admit though that I have a minor crush on Sam. He’s a really good guy, charming, funny with a bit of the cop black humor. He’s in love with his wife and stays faithful even when tempted, but still flirts in a comfortable way with the women in town. He has a tendency to be almost be too witty, always trying to be amusing, but it fits with his character. He’s someone I would like to know. And he’s a reader, even special ordering out of print books from his local indie bookstore, which you have to love. The dialogue sparkles, although I have to admit that I can get a little tired of his impersonations.

I didn’t realize how many Sam Jenkins novels and novellas Zurl has written. I’m looking forward to reading more of Jenkins’ adventures.

4 out of 5 stars

Category: Mystery – Police Procedural

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Sam Jenkins #4 chronologically
Published March 15, 2012
224 pages

Book source: For review

Sam Jenkins Series – in chronological order

  1. Reenacting a Murder
  2. V   is for Vitamin
  3. Fate of a Floozy
  4. A New Prospect
  5. A Leprechaun’s Lament
  6. Heroes and Lovers
  7. Ground Hog’s Day
  8. A Labor Day Murder
  9. By the Horns of a Cow
  10. Serpents and Scoundrels
  11. Murder in a Wish-Book House
  12. A Murder in Knoxville
  13. A Fire and Old Ice
  14. Bullets Off-Broadway
  15. A Touch of Morning Calm
  16. A Can of Worms
  17. Scrap Metal and Murder
  18. Reenacting a Murder
  19. V is for Vitamin?
  20. The Great Smoky Mountain Bank Job

About Wayne Zurl

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—not far from Prospect PD.

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