Tag Archives: Black Rose Writing

Real Cops vs. Hollywood – A guest post by author Wayne Zurl


Britbear’s Book Reviews is thrilled to present a guest post by fellow Black Rose author Wayne Zurl, author of A New Prospect, in today’s author spotlight. 

New Prospect cover..2 badgesRemember the TV series History versus Hollywood originally aired between 2001 and 2005 on the History Channel? Narrator Burt Reynolds helped you debunk many of the myths perpetuated by filmmakers. I’d like to produce a show called Real Cops versus Hollywood (and some fiction writers.)

I began my police career back on the tail end of the wild and wooly days of law enforcement. Ernesto Miranda wasn’t yet a household word among career felons and Joe Wambaugh (a real cop) had just published his first novel, The Blue Knight.

I remember the first burglary I worked with a veteran squad dick everyone called Mr. Ray, a guy willing to take the “new kid” under his wing.

Those were the days before the CSI shows (Las Vegas, Miami, or New York.) Unless we had a homicide, bank robbery, or serial rapist, we did our own forensic work at the crime scene. We took photographs, dusted for prints, and other almost pre-historic things available to an investigator at the time.

Okay, back to my house burglary. It took me only ten minutes to establish that the break-in had been staged for insurance purposes, I assumed. The pry marks on the sliding glass door matched exactly to a sixteen ounce straight claw hammer hanging above the homeowner’s workbench. The dresser drawers were searched from top to bottom—something a good burglar never does. And the broken glass had been scattered too much. I called Mr. Ray aside and told him what I thought. He asked only one question. “Are you sure?” I nodded. His next move: he tossed the homeowner out a second floor bedroom window. His next statement: “Okay, kid, go ask that son-of-a-bitch if he wants to reconsider his complaint.” Wild and wooly, not an investigative technique you should practice unless you want the Internal Affairs Bureau to have your desk phone on speed dial. So, what’s my point? Hell, I don’t know. I wanted to capture your attention.

But here’s a valid point regarding crime scene investigators—many of whom today are civilians. Now, read my lips. CSIs do not investigate crimes. They provide technical assistance to squad detectives who canvas neighborhoods looking for witnesses, check pawn shops, contact informants, interrogate suspects, and then (and only then) when they have reasonable cause to believe a certain someone committed a crime, they arrest the perpetrator—or poipuhtratah in Nu Yawk.

It’s just not logistically feasible for CSIs to “work” a case plus do all the horribly technical things they do at a crime scene and later at their office or lab and continue on until a case is cleared by arrest. Regardless of what TV tells us, it’s not possible.

I just mentioned reasonable cause to believe—sometimes called probable cause to believe—the standard of proof necessary to make a lawful arrest or obtain a search warrant.

When I worked as a cop, I rarely watched TV police shows because the technicalities were so wrong I thought my head would explode. After I retired, that changed. For old time’s sake, I watched Law & Order. I loved NYPD Blue. And I even gave a few private eyes house room.

Let’s analyze Law & Order for a few minutes. Quite often, to build tension, I suppose, or to create illegitimate conflict perhaps (things people think are necessary in fiction) the boys and girls of the 27th Squad would jump the gun and arrest their suspect before they had all their ducks in a row. D/Lt. Anita Van Buren would complain, “1 PP (#1 Police Plaza—the address of NYPD headquarters) is breathing down my neck. Go out and get a clearance.”  With that admonition, Detectives Lenny Briscoe and Ed Green would break into a board meeting or doctor’s office and lock up their prime suspect—perhaps with only a reasonable suspicion—close but no cigar in laws of arrest.

Later, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy would lose a crucial piece of evidence at a pre-trial hearing or fail to get an indictment at grand jury. He’d then send one of his lovely assistant’s out on the street to backtrack and build a case the squad dicks should have tightened up prior to slapping on the cuffs.

Law & Order was a great show that ran for twenty years, but if a real detective made that many mistakes, he/she would end up walking a foot post in a very quiet neighborhood.

Hollywood also seems bent on misleading the public on the process of obtaining search warrants. When you know a suspect won’t voluntarily allow you to peek into their dwelling, vehicle, or workplace to obtain evidence or lock down the possibility that the items you seize won’t be questioned at a hearing, you should go in armed with a warrant. To get one, you don’t simply call the boss and say, “Have the day man (whoever he or she may be) get us a warrant to search…(Where ever you want to look).”

The 4th Amendment grants an individual protection against unreasonable search and seizure. There are exceptions to the basic rule, but this isn’t a law class and to keep me from rambling on too long, let’s agree you have the time, and the best way to get a good search is to have a judge approve your warrant application by agreeing that you have good reason to believe you may find material evidence in the place you wish to look.

In my experience, the detective working the case applies for the warrant because he/she can best explain the reasonable cause to believe they have established.

One thing Hollywood gets right about search warrant applications—some judges are more pro-cop than others. Every detective has their favorite judge and may use them if they want a quick signature. But you don’t build a world-class conviction rate by using warrants that can be easily contested, resulting in lost evidence after a hearing. A good police supervisor should insure that warrant applications meet the burden of proof.

Another pet peeve of mine involves how Hollywood police supervisors never prep their cops before post-shooting press conferences. Invariably, some nitwit reporter will ask, “Did you shoot to kill or shoot to wound?”

If you want to add a tidbit of reality to your book or story, there is only one way for your sharp cop to respond. “I shot to prevent or terminate (strike out the time frame which does not apply) the suspect’s illegal conduct.” In the light of many use deadly force events which have occurred recently (Ferguson, MO, Staten Island, NY, Cleveland, OH, and others) I should mention that it is not necessary for a subject to be armed for a police officer to be JUSTIFIED in the use deadly physical force. This is a very complicated subject.

As cops, we’re not gunslingers who don’t care if we bring’em back dead or alive and we’re not trained to shoot the gun out of a bad guy’s hand. Leave that to the heroes of those old B western movies. Police officers are trained to shoot for the largest target they can acquire—generally the criminal’s torso. Even with annual weapons qualification, many officers are not extremely good with a handgun much less distinguished experts. So, in the heat of a gunfight, all cops should make things as simple as possible and aim at the big picture.

But prior to taking that shot—using deadly physical force—the cop has to meet certain criteria. Hollywood sometimes fails to grasp this. I used to teach the law of justification in the use of force at the police academy and a junior college and I’d need lots more space to cover it adequately. If you plan on centering your fiction on a police shooting and you want to get the technicalities correct, some serious research is necessary to help you maintain credibility as a writer. Very basically, police officers may not use deadly physical force to prevent or terminate crimes against property. You can’t whack a kid to keep him from stealing hubcaps. If you, acting as a PO, reasonably believe it’s necessary to prevent or terminate crimes against a person, things like murder, a reckless manslaughter, robbery (that means forcible stealing,) forcible sex crimes (rape or sodomy) or assaults that may result in serious physical injury, Burglary of an occupied dwelling, arson of an occupied building, Kidnapping, and escape from police custody (1st degree) you may use deadly physical force—which is not limited to shooting. This is too a complicated topic where generally cops have more latitude than civilians.

When I began writing fiction, I wanted cops, ex-cops, and serious fans of a police procedural to say, “This guy has gotten the details right.” No one writes without, at sometime, tacitly asking his reader for a little suspension of disbelief. But if you get those all important technicalities correct you can, with good conscience, stretch a fan’s S.O.D at an important time and in the interest of a good story.

If you’re writing about a sharp cop, have him or her get the little things right. They can make mistakes to build tension and cause your readers to grit their teeth, but don’t let them put a bloody blouse in a sealed plastic bag unless you want them to botch up an investigation.

WZ  photo Deadwood, SDAbout 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.

Twenty (20) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been published as eBooks and many produced as audio books. Ten (10) of these novelettes are available in print under the titles: A Murder in Knoxville and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries and Reenacting a Murder and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries. Zurl has won Eric Hoffer and Indie Book Awards, and was named a finalist for a Montaigne Medal and First Horizon Book Award. His full-length novels are: A new Prospect, A Leprechaun’s Lament, Heroes & Lovers and Pigeon River Blues. They are available in print and various eBook formats.

Look for the all New from New York to the Smokies, an anthology of 5 never before published Sam Jenkins mysteries. Coming in April 2015.

For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series see www.waynezurlbooks.net. You may read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and see photos of the area where the stories take place.



“Papa’s Gift” by George McLendon – Author Interview

Welcome to another fellow Black Rose Writer, George McLendon, for today’s interview in the author spotlight on Britbear Book Reviews.

"Papa's Gift" by George McLendon

“Papa’s Gift” by George McLendon

In Papa’s Gift, Ian Barrett MacLogan is a fighter pilot and amateur adventurer with insatiable curiosity. He studied under a Spiritual teacher known as a Spiritual Traveler where he gained personal experiences within the subtle universes many call their Heavens.

He came to believe life itself to be a gift of love and if, while alive, one could be taught to experience these other dimensions, personal proof of Heaven and proof of one’s own eternal consciousness could be realized.

To ensure his experiences from being lost to his new grandchild, Ellie Marie, Ian writes a manuscript portraying a future summer’s visit by Ellie as a more mature young person. Through these stories, Ian (Papa) reveals the spiritual nature of man and man’s relation to the cosmos.

Fancy a modern novel with no villain to hiss.

I had the unique opportunity of interviewing George recently. Here’s what he had to say about his book and his writing.

What was your inspiration for writing Papa’s Gift?

I’m pleased your first question is about the inspiration behind the Papa’s Gift project. That is a story of its own. It was love.  When our first grandchild, Ellie Marie, was born, my wife, Ellen, and I had the privilege of being her daycare center for her first year of life.  The experience was very moving.

My wife and I had studied and traveled for many years to learn and experience as much as we could about the meaning of life and the true nature of mankind and of consciousness itself.  We had each experienced activities that some [might] call paranormal or spiritual experiences or spiritual travel. We were also getting older. I thought we should leave a journal of information for our children and particularly for Ellie and future grandchildren.  In the winter of 1993, I wrote a story of a possible future visit by Ellie when she would [have reached] an age of intellectual maturity.  It would be a two-week summer visit to her grandparents’ home in the Pacific Northwest.  The working title was Ellie Marie and Me. Using that visit as the setting, [the book is about she and I talking] during the normal activities of a summer on the Olympic Peninsula.

Twenty years later, just before her wedding, Ellie asked to read the journal.  She did, and insisted it should become a book for anyone to read.  Others also agreed.  For that old journal to become a viable book, I added more characters as metaphors for life itself, and built a story around the journal. That is how Papa’s Gift found a life of its own, as a novel of inspirational fiction.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is special or unique?

The main character is the narrator of the old manuscript or journal, Papa himself.  He is Ian Barrett MacLogan, adventurer, former U.S. Air Force pilot and retired airline captain.  As the book begins, Papa is deceased and comes alive only in the old manuscript and in the most unusual last chapter of the book.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There is most definitely a message.  It is the author’s hope that the story behind the story is revealed.  That story is the story of love, and what the power of love, of positive magnetic attraction, can accomplish for an individual in this physical world and for the planet itself.  Humans cannot be mentally or spiritually lazy.  We certainly should relax, but a passive life without pondering deep questions is to be avoided.  Love and consciousness must be used to create our own experiences. Our lives are our own creations. We are the conductors of our own unique  symphonies. When we know who we really are, life becomes wondrous.

Tell us about the cover and how it came about.

The illustration was picked by the art director of my publisher, Black Rose Writing.  It is actually a picture of Ellie’s last visit to our Bayside home in Washington state.  She was five, and the [following] winter was when the old journal was written.  The setting is aboard “Magic Time”, our old wooden Chris Craft Sedan, which plays a prominent role in the book.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Research was a challenge, as the book moves through many historic periods.  Facts had to be checked and rechecked.  However, the spiritual experiences of the characters are all based on actual experiences of the author or have been authenticated by persons known to the author.

What books and/or authors have influenced your writing and how? 

So many; I have been reading for almost three quarters of a century.  Themes of self-realization and texts and stories of ancient wisdom that correspond to modern scientific discoveries.  Science and spirituality are getting closer and closer to the same conclusions, though they use different terms.

The books of Gregg Braden, who weaves the fabric of a science/ancient wisdom nexus remarkably well.

Paul Twitchell’s Books, especially Flute of God, Dialogues with the Master, and Stranger by the River.

Brad Steiger, In My Soul I am Free.

Harold Klemps books, How to Survive Spiritually in our Times, [as well as] many others.

Phillip Newell, Listening for the Heartbeat of God.

Ester and Jerry Hicks, the entire Law of Attraction series.

What are your expectations for Papa’s Gift?

My expectation is that the book will slowly catch hold of the imagination of seekers of wisdom and be recommended to others. No flash in the pan, just good stories with the kind of information people want to address for their own lives.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character(s) in Papa’s Gift?

The special effects guys would have a great time with some of the out-of-body settings.  Maybe Disney illustrators would be creating the characters. It is fun to think about it.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Well, I’m seventy five years old. I hope you will just expect me being in the future.  One of the architects of the Affordable Care Act suggested at 75, we should give up, [and] limit care to pain pills. Well, I guess publishing a novel at seventy five just shows there are some foolish people out there.  More writing?  Possibly, but this book must be my focus at this point.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

Maybe one story.   Since childhood I’ve been intrigued by consciousness, by awareness, and by the magnetic-like attraction we call love. Most human beings accept that they can think, remember, learn, and see things through their eyes. I could see additional things.

Once a nice old man I knew walked past me down the stairs where I was sitting and tousled my hair. Then I heard the voices of anguished women and learned he had just died up in his room. I was five years old.

I didn’t like funerals or looking into caskets, because what lay there was empty. I didn’t like emptiness. I could only rarely see more than others, but it happened just frequently enough that knowledge of it had to be pursued, so I did.  Life is supposed to be fun, so see to it. You are loved.  The more you learn about who you really are, life becomes more wondrous.

Elise, I am very pleased for this opportunity to discuss the novel Papa’s Gift on your blog.  I am grateful for your time and very pleased you asked.

Thank you for conducting this interview.

George McLendon

It was my pleasure, George. I have read your posts on the Black Rose Writing Facebook group and know you are passionate about the book. I was only too happy to help you further promote the book, and wish you best of luck with it in the future.

Here’s where you can read more about George and Papa’s Gift.

| Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads |

Buy Papa’s Gift by George McLendon on Amazon and Black Rose Writing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABorn in 1939 just south of Atlanta, Georgia, George A. McLendon spent his preschool years with his mom, waiting for his dad and four uncles to return from the war.  Three uncles returned. The one lost was the navy fighter pilot.

Despite that loss, and maybe even partially because of it, since early childhood, McLendon wanted to fly.  He enlisted in the navy, attended the United States Naval Academy and became a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. He retired as an airline captain.

Fascinated with the unanswered questions of the nature of consciousness, he sought answers to life’s mysteries and with his wife, Ellen, traveled and studied, seeking the link between modern science and the wisdom of the ancients.  McLendon has spoken at spiritual seminars in many different countries.

Papa’s Gift is his first novel. The author and his wife have been together over forty six years and live outside Las Vegas, Nevada. They have raised six children and are grandparents.