Tag Archives: police procedural

Sam Jenkins’ Companion

FROM NY TO THE SMOKIES....front..coverDetective Sam Jenkins is back in Wayne Zurl’s From New York to the Smokies, a short story collection spanning over four decades in the life of the character. From a young age, Sam Jenkins wanted to do what was right. When he foils a mob crime and saves his father from going to jail, someone suggests he become a police officer and that’s what he does. The stories span Sam’s career, beginning as a lieutenant in New York through to his time as chief of the Prospect PD, a town in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, which is where Zurl gets the title.

This is the second book I’ve read in the Sam Jenkins series, and I enjoyed the stories in this book as much as I enjoyed the last. Zurl’s writing flows smoothly, his dialogue is casual and realistic, and though Sam’s police business gets quite serious at times, Zurl is always sure to interject a bit of humour, providing what at times is much needed comedic relief.

Of the five stories in this collection, my favourite was “Ode to Willie Joe”, in which a light-hearted, sci-fi element turns out to be something unexpected. The first story, “The Boat to Prison”, gives interesting insight into Sam’s character. Growing up in a bad area, with a less-than-upstanding father as a role model, his life could have taken a turn for the worse if it weren’t for his inherent good and desire to help save the people around him. This collection makes an excellent companion to Zurl’s Sam Jenkins series. It was fun to take a trip back into Sam’s world, no matter how brief.

Mamabear gives this book:

four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Cover Reveal – “From New York to the Smokies” by Wayne Zurl

FROM NY TO THE SMOKIES....front..coverFrom New York to the Smokies is comprised of five mysteries spanning more than four decades in the life of career police officer Sam Jenkins.

THE BOAT TO PRISON — set in 1963 when a teenaged Jenkins and his friends attempt to foil a plot to kill a Long Island union leader and keep Sam’s shop steward father from doing hard time.

FAVORS drops readers into a New York of 1985 when Lieutenant Sam Jenkins mounts an unofficial investigation to learn why one of his civilian employees isn’t overjoyed about her promotion to police officer and uncovers a history of unreported and unspeakable crimes.

ODE TO WILLIE JOE, ANGEL OF THE LORD, and MASSACRE AT BIG BEAR CREEK brings the reader up to date with three adventures of Chief Jenkins and the officers of Prospect PD, a police department serving a small town in the Great Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee. UFO sightings, a serial killer on the loose, and the most brutal murders and feud between mountain folk since the Hatfields and McCoys pushes Sam to use every trick he’s learned in a lifetime of detective work to resolve these incidents on his “peaceful side of the Smokies.”

Preorder From New York to the Smokies on Amazon.

About the Author:

WZ  photo Deadwood, SDWayne 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 andReenacting 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.

Interview with author Mark Love

Britbear’s Book Reviews would like to welcome fellow Black Rose author Mark Love and his novel, Why 319? to today’s author spotlight.

Why 319Summary from Goodreads:

There’s a serial killer loose in Metro Detroit, but nobody knows it. Three female victims have been discovered in motel rooms in different suburban cities that surround Motown. These deaths have not captured the media’s attention. The only connection is that each body is found in room 319 and the killer leaves the taunting message “Why 319?” on the bathroom mirror, written with the victim’s lipstick. The nude bodies have been cleaned and neatly arranged. All personal items are gone.

Now an elite squad of detectives has entered the scene. It’s up to them to take over the investigations from the police force and solve the riddle. The detectives know that time is not on their side. If the public learns there is a serial killer at large, will panic set in? Will they be able to figure it out before the killer strikes again?

Buy Why 319? on Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and Black Rose Writing.

Thanks for joining me today, Mark. What was your inspiration for your last novel?

I’ve always wanted to do a story about a serial killer and the investigation. It was during a brainstorming session with my son, Travis, who also likes to write, when the idea started to take shape. There were many revisions over the time it took to come up with a story that I was satisfied with. That’s where Why 319? came from.

It’s really cool that you and your son brainstorm like that.

What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?

My favorite segment was when I wrote from the killer’s point of view. Since the majority of the story is told from the protagonist, Jefferson Chene’s, perspective, it was a challenge to make that transition. But I’ve had some great feedback on it.  One reader said those sections gave her shivers. I’ll take that compliment anytime.

It’s always fun to think outside the box like that and pen something so far removed from our own perspectives. How about some of that outside the box thinking now? What would your protagonist think about you?  Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author, his creator?

I’m sure Chene has more than a few questions he’d like to get answers to. Chene was an orphan, abandoned at birth and raised in a Catholic orphanage. His name comes from the intersection near downtown Detroit where he was found. So the chance to kick back and learn more about his background would definitely drive him.

Do your characters try to create ever more convoluted plots for you?  Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?

(Laughs) Oh, they definitely like to make the plots more twisted and challenging! I don’t work with an outline. I have a basic story idea in mind and maybe one or two key characters. I put them in motion and then just run alongside and see what they do. Some of the turns they suggest lead to major plot changes. But I think the result is a much better story.

My writing process is similar, so I know what you mean. Looking forward, What are your current projects?

I’m working on a sequel for Chene.  The main characters from Why 319? are clamoring for more attention.  I’m also trying to work on a prequel for the Jamie Richmond romance-mystery series (Devious, Vanishing Act and Fleeing Beauty).

What other books are similar to your own?   What makes them alike?

I think Michael Connolly’s Harry Bosch novels are similar to Why 319? Like Bosch, Chene has his internal demons but is driven to solve the mystery.  To him, every victim matters regardless of their status in life.

While we’re on the topic of other books, which writers inspire you and why?

As a kid I was hooked on the novels of John D. MacDonald, who wrote the Travis McGee series.  McGee wasn’t your standard hero. He only worked when he needed the money or when it involved someone he was close to. Once the case was done, McGee went into an early retirement mode, enjoying life. MacDonald could coax the reader into the story quickly and throw enough curves at you that you never knew what was coming. Other writers who remind me of him include Elmore Leonard, James W. Hall, Greg Iles, John Sandford and James Rollins. I take inspiration from them to keep writing, keep polishing the story.

Still on the topic of books by other authors, what is your favourite book and why?

Stephen King’s The Stand.  I started reading this epic one evening after work and became so engrossed in the story that I didn’t blink until about three o’clock in the morning. I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep before going to work. Later during the day, I was waiting in line at a fast food restaurant when someone behind me sneezed three times. That was the warning sign in the book that someone had the disease that was wiping out humanity. Then next thing I knew, I was in my car with a death grip on the steering wheel.  Since I started writing, it’s been a goal to capture someone’s imagination as well as he grabbed mine.

One of my favourites, too.

Why do you write?

I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. Being able to entertain the readers by writing an engaging story, creating characters and conflicts they can identify with or relate to is not easy, but it’s something I’m driven to do. It’s important to me. I think everyone has talents. Mine is to write a good story, to take you along for an adventure.

Where do those ideas come from?

(Laughs) Inspiration comes from everywhere and nowhere. I’ve gotten ideas for a story from conversations I’ve overheard, from watching people interact in a restaurant, from hiking on a trail or riding a motorcycle down a country road.

What about building your author platform? What’s your view on social media for marketing?

I’m behind the curve on social media and definitely need to catch up. So many people are on it, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest and more, that it’s a great way to reach a larger audience. I just need to find the time to get busy with it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Check out new authors. There are many talented people out there, working with smaller publishing houses who have written great stories.

Truer words were never said, Mark. Thanks for investing your time to do this interview. One last question: where can readers discover more about you and your work?

| Blog | Facebook | Amazon Author Page |

“Why 319?” is Well Written and Structurally Sound

Why+319+eimageDetective Jefferson Chene is on the trail of a serial killer. His only clues are the bodies of the killer’s female victims, all found sprawled on the beds of hotel rooms numbered 319, the cryptic message “Why 319?” written on the bathroom mirror in lipstick. Can Chene and his task force find the killer before they find the next body?

I liked Mark Love’s Why 319? Detective Chene is tough and vulnerable at once. His relationship with partner Meagan is endearing and believable. Love’s prose is easy to read and descriptive. The story is interesting by way of a police procedural in that it doesn’t read like an episode of CSI, but in a good way. In CSI (in most police procedurals on television, in fact), the team always interviews the perpetrator at some point in the investigation. By contrast, Why 319? may be a more realistic glimpse into police investigation, especially when the killer’s agenda is nothing personal with respect to the victim. Undaunted, Chene and his task force slowly collect and piece together the murderer’s puzzle. I wasn’t surprised by the killer’s identity, mind you, but rather, by the story-web Love weaves in order to reveal it.

When reading for review, I often form my opinion of how many gummies (or stars) I will ultimately award the book long before I finish. This opinion always wavers as I read, sometimes several times. For the first 2/3 of Why 319? I was set to give it five stars. Then the narrative changed inorder to give the reader 2 or 3 glimpses into the mind of the killer. As a writer, I understand why Love might want to do this–to show the murderer sweating as the police grow near, taunting and chiding them all the while–but in this case, Love should have resisted as the scenes, though brief, were out of place and unnecessary to Chene’s narrative; Love should have found an alternate route for imparting this information.

That observation aside, I recommend Why 319?, especially to those avid mystery and police procedural junkies. If you are a fan of CSI, Criminal Minds, Stalker, and the like, you will not be disappointed by Why 319?

Mamabear gives this book:

four-bears

 

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Personable and Real

New Prospect cover..2 badgesWayne Zurl’s A New Prospect introduces the world to Sam Jenkins, formerly retired police officer, and brand new police Chief of Prospect, Tennessee. When he’s thrown into Prospect’s first murder on his first day on the force, the game’s afoot (as both Sherlock Holmes and Sam, himself, would say). Barred from investigation by the FBI, Sam nevertheless sets out to find the murderer.

I liked Sam Jenkins from the moment he’s introduced, but Zurl captures his reader long before that in the prologue when he introduces characters germaine to later action. Zurl’s narrative is easy-going and easy to read, capturing Sam’s persona, which renders the narrator’s voice personable and real. Jenkins is about as honest a narrator as they come, letting the reader in on his every thought, and I do mean every, including his unabashed attraction to the female characters he meets.

In Prospect, Zurl has created a bucolic, near backwater town, populated with intriguing characters enough to rival that of Mayberry. This parallel is deliberate; Zurl  frequently interjects references to popular culture from the fifties through the seventies, showing that Jenkins identifies with the detectives and cowboys that went before him. These allusions imply Zurl’s writing is for an older audience of about thirty and up, which he acknowledges in the persona of Sam. When those around him don’t get his allusions, rather than feel past his prime, Sam is energized by their confusion.

I really enjoyed my trip to Prospect and the time spent with Sam. I hope to visit with him (and Zurl) again, sometime soon.

Mamabear gives this book:

four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For more on Wayne Zurl and Sam Jenkins, read his guest post, Real Cops vs. Hollywood, and his Interview on Britbear’s Book Reviews.

Meet Wayne Zurl, Author of “A New Prospect”

Britbear’s Book Reviews is pleased to welcome fellow Black Rose Writer Wayne Zurl to this week’s author spotlight. Wayne is the author of A New Prospect. His guest blog post, Real Cops vs. Hollywood was featured in a 25 Jan 15 post.

New Prospect cover..2 badgesA New Prospect synopsis From Amazon:

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 fall 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.

In putting together the questions for this interview, I noticed that your Amazon page shows you’re quite prolific. How long does it take for you to write each of your novels?

A full-length novel can take about me three to four months to make it ready for presentation to an editor. Of course that requires a fair diligence on my part: no major interruptions, holidays, travel plans, and no one inviting me to go on a fishing expedition. The novelettes (which had an 11,000 word ceiling) took from 2 to 4 weeks under the same conditions.

That’s quite impressive. The key must in your writing process?  Is there anything about it that makes your process particularly efficient?

For a guy who spent much of his adult life in military and paramilitary organizations, I’m not terribly structured or disciplined as a writer. And I’ll admit my writing process isn’t, by modern standards, very efficient. If I had my choice, I’d start early in the morning and continue until I experienced that old burned-out feeling, but with other commitments, that’s not always possible. My inefficiency comes from doing things the old-fashioned way—writing everything longhand on a legal pad. My wife is rather good on a keyboard, but since my handwriting isn’t the most legible, and I would prefer that we remain friends and stay married, I transpose everything to a Word document myself.

I hate to outline, so after roughing out a story, I’ll go back and “flesh out” the details, descriptions or anything which lacks the necessary lustre. Sometimes it takes two or three times to satisfy me. Then I’ll read it again and look for the nits and typos I haven’t seen before.

With all that completed, I’ll follow the advice I give others and attempt to get an even better product. I learned this from Robert B. Parker and from my experience with writing novelettes which were all destined to be produced as audio books. An interviewer once asked Parker why his books were so popular. He said because they sounded good. That might seem overly simple, but I knew what he meant and try to make mine sound good, too. When I think I’m finished, I isolate myself and read the book aloud with the same slow pace a professional reader/actor would use for an audio book. If something “bumps,” I smooth it out. I make sure all the sentences have the correct number of syllables; the paragraphs flow from one to the next. Basically, I want this thing to sing to me. For a guy who can’t dance very well, I pay a lot of attention to rhythm. Of course, after reading anything I write so many times, I hate the sight of it and can’t wait to pass it off to a proof-reader or editor.

Still impressed at your stamina.

Your bio says you were a police officer, soldier, and data processor. How does your work experience influence your writing subject?

Let’s toss out data processing first. When I worked on computers, they were seven feet tall. Discs were eighteen inches across and were accessed with a swinging arm like a record player. We programmed them by writing out commands on a worksheet which were turned into punch cards. Today I’m only a step above clueless when it comes to the modern PC. My experience is absolutely no help unless I wrote about an IBM museum.

My police career in New York provides all the basic storylines for what I write. I use cases I investigated, supervised or just knew a lot about. Sometimes I composite two or more incidents to make things more interesting. My imagination comes into play by figuring out a way to transplant them to Tennessee where I have my retired New York detective working a second career as a police chief.

My main character, Sam Jenkins, shares a few similarities with me—we’re former cops and Vietnam War veterans. Twenty years of seeing the best and more often the worst side of humanity through the eyes of a policeman changes anyone’s personality. And no one goes to war and comes home unaffected. All the little things that affected me often manifest themselves in Sam’s life.

Now I’m impressed at your creativity.

Out of all of your books, which are you most proud of and why?

A New Prospect was my first and the one I struggled with most as a novice fiction writer. When I held what I thought was a completed mystery novel, I hired a book doctor to evaluate the manuscript. He gave me good news and bad news. The good: he liked the Sam Jenkins character, the basic premise of the story and thoughts of a series, and my writing voice. His bomb: “This would have been a hit in 1985, but it doesn’t fit the formula publishers want in 2006.” My reaction: “Ugh!”

With that information and several suggestions from him, I jumped through hoops to restructure the entire novel—minimize the setup, bury the back-story, change the passive verbiage, and get the murder closer to the opening. That accomplished and with the doctors blessing, I took my now completed manuscript and began peddling it to agents. I received so many rejections, most of which came from people who hadn’t read one page of my story, I considered changing my deodorant. Then one of the few rejections that contained more than a terse form letter said, “A sixty-year-old retired New York cop who becomes a Tennessee police chief just isn’t trendy. Consider changing him to a young vampire private investigator from Orange County who fights crime in a vigilante, Batman-like way and we might have something.”

I revised my thinking, abandoned my thoughts of finding an agent, and looked for royalty-paying publishers who would accept submissions directly from a writer.

My pride comes from A New Prospect winning Eric Hoffer and Indy book awards and being named as a finalist in two others. A year after publication I wanted to send “Oh yeah?” letters to all the agents I queried. But that would have been unprofessional.

Most of what you experienced is par for the course, I’m afraid. That’s why so many of us turn to self-publishing.

A New Prospect, the novel you’ve asked me to review, introduces your Sam Jenkins character. How much of you went into creating Sam?

Nothing I’ve written is an autobiographical sketch or true crime story. As I mentioned in question 3, I use my old cases to formulate stories which end up fictionalized and embellished. And I write with a lot of dialogue, so to make my life easier, I gave Sam lots of my personality. If I would say or do something in a given police situation, so would he. Police work involves lots of thinking, lots of instinct—that with which some people are born and that which you develop with experience. My protagonist needed that instinct and I could cash in on the old author’s maxim of write what you know. That’s one reason I write in the first person. The emotions I remember can be transferred and come out in Sam’s speech.

My wife says the other reason is that at my age my short term memory can’t keep track of whose point of view I’m dealing with. But what does she know?

What is it about Sam Jenkins that keeps you writing about him? What about him keeps your readers reading his story?

Sam and I are in it for the long haul. Anyone who worked in a busy police department retires with oodles of war stories, so I’ll keep writing until I run out of ideas for new adventures. And I believe that it’s more than just Sam Jenkins’ character that makes people like these stories. Sure, he does things that many law-abiding civilians would love to do and they can feel a vicarious thrill when he pulls off some unconventional piece of magic, but it goes a bit beyond that. He’s fairly obsessed with his public image and that of his police department. Professionalism is all important. And his Sir Galahad complex requires him to always do the right thing. He’s by no means perfect, that would be boring. But when the chips are down, he pursues the bad guy, cuts corners, knows how to keep himself and the city of Prospect out of trouble, and feels absolutely no obligation to pander to the local politicians. Readers like his irreverent attitude toward the system. Every once in a while he just has to arrest a politicians son, or even a member of the county commission. Things like that keep life at Prospect PD interesting.

Some readers find him likable, even personable. But he could never do the job alone. He needs a good support system within the ranks, and even from several people with whom he has a good professional relationship, specifically, an FBI agent who’s also from New York, and a beautiful TV reporter who holds a special place in her life for him.

Cops are in the people business. It was always the oddballs, colorful miscreants, and otherwise quirky characters I met that made the job worthwhile. I try to litter the pages with people my readers will remember. They may love them or hate them, but I hope they see them as unique and never forget them. Sam is basically a conduit connecting the heroes and weirdoes to the reader. And unlike many of the current crop of police procedural writers I’m compelled to interject some humor into every story no matter how horrendous or serious. That’s authentic to a cop’s life. Without humor (often black humor) a detective would be swapping his Harris tweeds for a straight jacket.

Can you recall how your interest in writing first originated?

Police officers are always writing something. Narrative repots make a department go around, so I always had practice in a technical sense. Although a few defense attorneys called my prosecution worksheets sheer fantasy. When I retired, I volunteered at a Tennessee State Park and wrote publicity for their living history program. That led me to having twenty-six non-fiction magazine articles published. I thought it was cool to get paid for writing. After ten years of non-fiction and being unable to dream up anything new and exciting to say about the 18th century French & Indian War in Tennessee, I handed the torch to someone else and decided to attempt writing fiction.

I toyed with the idea of a Vietnam War novel or something in historical fiction, but settled on cop stories. But someday I still may do a western.

You have so much practical experience. Do you ever have to do any research for a story? If so, how much? What topics did you find most interesting?

I do very little research. Sam Jenkins is what we in the police business call a dinosaur. He does his thing the old way, with methods learned in the 1970s, and to him, proven in the field. When I need up-to-date information about forensic or scientific practices, I call a friend who’s a crime scene investigator for the local county sheriff. Occasionally, I need historical background on a venue mentioned in a story and I use the internet. Last year I had a novelette published called The Sawn Tattoo, which dealt with Malaysian organized crime in the southeast United States. Learning about the ethnic Chinese who immigrated to Sarawak in the early 20th century and reading the history of the crime families or triads who operated in Malaysia and now have satellite organizations in the U.S. was extremely interesting. You never know who you might be dealing with when you eat at one of those Asian buffets.

Do you ever experience writer’s block and if so, what’s your cure for it?

My version of writer’s block often comes when I need a clever way to embellish a real case. Not all police work is a thrill a minute or contains the conflict and tension publishers demand. If I can’t formulate a plausible chunk of fiction to integrate with my reality, I uncork a better than average bottle of wine, grab two glasses, and ask my wife. She’s a big help at times.

What’s the one question you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How might you answer that question?

That’s the toughest question so far. But how about this: Do you believe your portrayal of the operations of a small police department and more importantly the interaction and relationships of the police personnel is realistic?

Remember those hoops I mentioned previously? I jumped through those to please a publisher and get my foot in the door. Getting the details and technicalities correct is for me and all the cops and ex-cops who might read something I write. I’d be embarrassed and feel terrible if another retired cop said, “That’s BS. You couldn’t do that.”

Everyone who writes asks for a reader’s suspension of disbelief at some point. And sometimes those in the mystery business have his or her protagonist take risks no good cop should take. Sometimes they do procedural things that might make a reader grit their teeth and say, “Sam (or Philip Marlow, or Jim Rockford) is a good detective. He should know better.” Occasionally, Sam allows his big mouth to cause seemingly irreparable conflict with the politicos and a reader might observe, “Jeez, doesn’t he know how much trouble he could get into?” Those things are done to create the tension both readers and publishers enjoy.

But let’s deal with what gives the sub-genre its name: police procedure. If you get the details right, you make your bones and can skate through a few requests for a suspension of disbelief. I try hard to not only show the correct way to do it, but in a roundabout way, explain why cops do things in a certain manner.

The second part of the question delves into a philosophy of management, supervision, and interpersonal relationships. As in the military, police line organizations tend to be more formal within the chain of command. But Prospect PD doesn’t have 3000 sworn members like the place where I used to work. And Sam Jenkins spent most of his career working in small units where the rank structure and relationships were more relaxed. Prospect PD has a chief, two sergeants, ten patrolmen, and in recent books, a civilian operations aide. So, Sam operates his department on a first name basis. Everyone seems to like that and the troops still call him boss most of the time.

He believes in the premise that management pays his salary and assigns him certain tasks, but he owes his troops more than he owes the mayor. Without them, no mission could ever be accomplished. If a cop gets called on the carpet from outside the PD, Sam has their back and fights for their preservation. A boss who worries more about promotion and where he wants to go next will probably never gain the respect of his workers nor will he see the above average productivity from his cops which creates a truly superior unit. Sam believes that everyone should strive to be the best (fill in a job title of your choice) possible so they can look in the mirror and be pleased with who’s looking back at them.

Police work is not always, but can be a dangerous business. If you don’t look out for your brothers and sisters, you’re not looking out for yourself. This is true to life.

Elise,

That seems to be the end of the line. Thanks for inviting me to your blog to answer these questions,provide your fans and followers with a short essay on real police work versus Hollywood’s version, and for offering to review my book, A New Prospect.

The pleasure was all mine, Wayne. I learned so much from your post and now your interview, and I can’t wait to read A New Prospect.

Here’s how you can learn more about Wayne and his work:How can readers discover more about you and you work?

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

| Barnes and Noble Author Page | Mind Wings Audio Author Page |

| Independent Author Network Page |

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 andReenacting 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.

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.