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  • HeaderWayne


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.

Books by Wayne Zurl

What Readers say...


    Masterful plots, penetrating psychology, rich background and intriguing, diverse characters –let’s face it – this series is addictive. You read one, you want more.

    Wayne Zurl is a wonderful writer, whose books should not be missed! Five stars!
    Ilil R. Arbel, author & researcher

    Every story in this collection will hold your attention and y’all will be learning jes’ how them folks in the mountains of Tennessee chat! Great writing, well edited, exhilarating stories.
    Nancy L. Silk, author & reviewer

    Wayne Zurl writes detective novels with authority. His writing style is in-depth character development, vivid scene settings, and weaving just the right twists and turns to keep his readers captivated.
    [The main character] Chief Jenkins reminds me of Robert B. Parker’s ‘Chief Jesse Stone’.
    Any of Wayne Zurl’s novels could easily be turned into blockbuster feature films or ‘made-for-television’ movies. FIVE STARS.
    Michael Phelps, author & private investigator

    The stories, written in the first person, are funny, deep, sad – every aspect of human life is covered – and I thoroughly enjoyed every one.
    Diana M. Hockley, author

    This anthology collection is perfect for readers who have not had a chance to meet the charming main character, Sam Jenkins. Sam is a sarcastic guy who has no problem saying exactly what he’s thinking: his quick wit, sense of humor, friendly banter and sweet flirty side keeps the reader laughing out loud as every story unfolds.
    Zurl has a knack for weaving intriguing police procedural tales with a witty mixture of humor, intrigue, drama and suspense. He utilizes his prior extensive knowledge and experience of police procedure to create a series that diehard mystery / detective fans will crave to read.
    So take it from a Sam Jenkins groupie and read From New York To The Smokies. I guarantee that once you read the collection, you will get hooked on all of the Sam Jenkins Mystery series. It is simply an addicting whodunit mystery series that will turn mystery fans into Sam Jenkins fans!
    Kathleen Anderson, book reviewer

    Zurl is a natural born storyteller! He recounts these crime-solving tales with such ease, you’ll actually feel like your mind is being smoothly caressed. With memorable characters and vivid detail, these are the kind of stories you’d love to hear conveyed around an evening’s campfire.
    There are a few seriously laugh-out-loud moments at our hero’s witty and clever sarcasm…a charming and delightful character.
    Kat McCarthy, author, blogger, reviewer

    …detailed stories with fascinating characters…fast-paced and enjoyable. Don’t miss these.
    Marianne Spitzer, author


    Another fast-paced, highly entertaining crime caper for the wise-cracking Police Chief Sam Jenkins of Prospect, Tennessee, to solve with the help of his loyal staff.

    When country singer Colleen Profitt, known as C.J., returns to her hometown for a charity concert, her reputation as an irritable, outspoken proponent of an alternate life style precedes her, along with six threatening notes sent to her from a local group calling itself the Coalition for American Family Values.

    Mayor Shields calls on Sam to provide security for the difficult star and investigate the notes to uncover the identities of the troublemakers and bring them to justice.

    Sam is no lover of country music and becomes even less fond of the country singer who adamantly refuses to cooperate with his efforts to protect her, proving Sam’s first impression that she would be as “helpful as a BB gun against a charging rhino.”

    While dealing with the cantankerous star, a fellow cop from Sam’s old days on Long Island shows up, broke and looking for a job, and a place to stay.

    Complications pile up that Sam deftly handles with alacrity, leading to the suspenseful climax. Along the way, the story is laugh-out-loud funny as it crackles along with crisp dialogue, witty observations, and non-stop action.

    I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys detective fiction that’s authentic, exciting, and amusing.

    Cheryl Peyton ~ Author & Member AGT


    In Pigeon River blues Wayne Zurl weaves a riveting tale of radical redneck revenge and domestic terrorism into the very fabric of east Tennessee's vacation paradise. True to his style, Zurl's detective Sam Jenkins delivers another captivating account of police bravery and heroism in the face of extreme personal danger. Dollywood may never be the same! *****

    BJ Gillum, Author


    Rockwood, TNSam Jenkins’ police work is the propelling motion of this fast pace read. Sometimes comical and witty, his style works on the written page. If you like TV police dramas, this book will be as intense, but more enjoyable because of Wayne Zurl’s spiffy character, Sam.

    Roy Murry, author and reviewer


    …Zurl does an excellent job of writing believable characters with their own special traits. Each is unique. [His] knowledge of police work and the military brings reality to Sam Jenkins’s character as he uses both to solve this mystery.
    Marianne Spitzer, author


    [Zurl] created a clever, hilarious, sometimes-over-the top character in Sam Jenkins. [He] is what makes this series one-of-a-kind. But it’s not all about Sam … The secondary characters in this novel are fantastic … complex, and though some are thoroughly unlikable, they are all unique … A fun, fast-paced, intelligent read.
    Tricia Drammeh, author


    I have always liked the small city police chief stories that used to be quite popular but seem to have been cast aside. Mr. Zurl has rescued this genre, given us new stories and a new chief [in] Sam Jenkins. This is quite a plot that Mr. Zurl has given us as protecting singer C.J. Profitt is not going to be easy. However if it were easy then we probably would not read this story. Sam Jenkins is a wonderful character that will keep you entertained as you enjoy this new adventure.
    Victor Gentile: Vic’s Media Room


    I loved the mystery and the relationships between the characters. I loved reading this story. It was written so well and kept me turning the pages.
    Arlene Mullen, reviewer


    Sam is one of those characters that has many sides to him. He’s lovable but can get the answers from a criminal when needed. He’s always full of surprises.
    All the characters are deep and you have some you can’t stand but they each have their own qualities, good and bad. The book is a fast paced read and keeps you on your toes from the front cover to the last page. The bad thing is, you’re left wanting more.
    Gayle Pace: Books, Reviews, Etc.


    Pigeon River Blues brings to light many current issues that are front and center in the news today … This novel will keep you riveted to the printed page … with an ending you won’t expect and a Police Chief who won’t give up until the gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach is soothed by solving the case.
    Fran Lewis: Just Reviews

    … Zurl weaves another intriguing tale of mystery and suspense that keeps the reader guessing as they follow Sam [Jenkins] on his latest madcap adventure. Zurl engages the reader with a story that has a mixture of humor, intrigue, drama and suspense. His use of the local southern dialect stays true to the setting in the story; the reader feels like they are transported to the town of Prospect.
    I loved the fun banter that makes up the dialogue in this story. You can’t help but get drawn in as the characters come to life. With a quirky cast, rich descriptions of the area … and a suspenseful storyline full of intriguing twists and turns, Pigeon River Blues is an exciting continuation of the thrilling adventures found in the Sam Jenkins Mystery series!
    Pigeon River Blues and the Sam Jenkins mysteries are simply an addicting whodunit series that will turn mystery/detective fans into Sam Jenkins fans!
    Kathleen Anderson: Jersey Girl Book Reviews


    This full-size novel is one of Wayne Zurl’s best! This is an amusing, fun read as the characters are all well defined and there are no holds barred in what they think and say. This is a crime thriller which will make you chuckle and also keep you reading till late into the night. I could not put this book down and I’m amazed how well a former NY detective writes in perfect southern-speak in this captivating novel.
    Nancy Silk, author


    ‘PIGEON RIVER BLUES’ is perfect with unique characters in a setting that fits like a glove with its Southern language. [It] is as intriguing as The Game, as thrilling as Ransom, and as entertaining as ‘Good Will Hunting.’ Highly recommended to all readers who enjoy a clever mystery, with a blend of intellectual thrills, and humor.
    Geraldine Ahearn, reviewer


    … Jenkins is one of those “tough-but-fair” lawmen who also display a well defined sense of ethics and personal integrity, while at the same time possessing a keen sense of humor and a generous dose of personal charm.
    The supporting characters are also well rounded and completely defined, as opposed to the cardboard cutouts found in many series in this genre. I particularly liked the way he portrayed the Lesbian country star and her bigoted antagonists as real people rather than stereotypes or caricatures. That might have been an easy trap for an author to fall into, but Zurl avoids it deftly.
    “Pigeon River Blues” is a more complex work than it appears to be on the surface. As in the works of authors like James Lee Burke and the late Robert B. Parker, there are moral and ethical questions clearly presented without losing sight of the fact that the main purpose of this type of novel is to entertain and entertain it does, hugely.
    Bob Dunbar, author


    Five stars to Wayne Zurl and his latest Sam Jemkins novel, “Pigeon River Blues.” The multi-faceted plot is driven by prejudice and hatred…[Jenkins’] demeanor while on the job is not what one might expect from a small town, southern police chief. His tactics are interesting, to say the least. As might be expected, the “real” antagonist is a surprise.
    Larry Webb, author


    Pigeon River Blues by Wayne Zurl is a fast-paced, intrigue-filled detective mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

    I enjoyed the way the author developed his storyline and the background information. This made the story easy to follow and relate to. The author’s story telling style made the tale flow and it never bogs down. I found it easy to get into the story and hard to put it down.
    Larry B. Gray, author


    … there is much, much more to Sam Jenkins than just being an excellent police chief and an attractive guy. The character is complete, three-dimensional, and entirely human. He becomes a friend, whom you like, and you feel you know him well after a book or two—but just like your real-life friends, he can, and does, surprise you every so often. You think you know how he functions at work, at home, with his friends, his employees, his wife, and the criminals, but trust me, you don’t. In this book in particular I was utterly surprised by some of the things he said and did—but they fitted perfectly well with his personality. Mr. Zurl makes no mistakes.
    I admire and respect Mr. Zurl’s complete absence of bigotry, prejudice, or preconception of anything, anyone, anywhere. There is, obviously, not an ageist bone in his body. His take on race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation (which is very important in Pigeon River Blues) is based on the jaded and sophisticated acceptance that the human race may be stupid and annoying, but stupidity and annoyance is spread across the entire world with no relation to who and what you are. As a result, the book displays the kind of gentle humor that is born of wisdom.
    As for the plot – it is both brilliant and well crafted. Twists and turns and surprises happen again and again, but they are so well orchestrated as to make them entirely believable. You sometimes want to punch Sam’s nose – and the sentiment is certainly shared by some of the characters – but everything he does is inevitable to the plot and characters. This is a beautiful book that will keep you up and force you to go on until you finish. Enjoyable, intelligent, and fun – don’t miss it!
    Ilil Arbel, author


    Zurl’s mystery novels are well-written, character-driven, and the plot keeps the reader wondering. In his latest, ‘Pigeon River Blues’, the plot is tight, the good and bad characters are excellent…the dialogue is realistic and humorous. Oh, and the new character, John [Gallagher,] has a language all his own … and it’s a hoot.
    The ending is tight; all ends are tied up, and just as you think it’s over…hang on…here comes another blast.
    Lee Carey, author

    Reviews on HEROES & LOVERS

    This is the fourth book I've read in the series. Like the others, it's a light, entertaining police-procedural featuring Sam Jenkins, former NY City detective,now Police Chief of Prospect, Tennessee in the Smoky Mountain foothills. Throughout the series the author has been consistent in his quality of writing, his portrayal of continuing characters, balancing humor and import, and creating complex plots with satisfying endings.

    Drawing on his experiences as a Detective Lieutenant in Suffolk County, New York, Mr. Zurl's stories offer a candid look at police work, including unorthodox tactics, colorful language, bizarre situations, and inelegant behavior by characters on both sides of the law. After I finished the book, I went back to reread my favorite scene where Sam Jenkins' uses physical "persuasion" on a suspect in a men's room that includes holding the miscreant by his belt out a third-story window.

    Cheryl Peyton, Author & Member AGT

    Mr. Zurl is a highly skilled writer with a confident style in creating prose that flows and maintains a perfect pitch.I just finished HEROES AND LOVERS…really an enjoyable read. Hell, if I was a cop, I would BE Sam Jenkins…Great writing Wayne. I’m looking forward to more.

    Dirk Western, Amazon customer

    Wayne Zurl is a fantastic author that grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go… His characters are fully developed and realistic. His descriptions of the Great Smoky Mountains area makes one want to leave on vacation. His story-line is full of twists and turns mixed into everyday life…Then there is the main character Sam Jenkins, the kind of man who can steal a woman’s heart with a smile [and] who will not take “no” as an answer when he is trying to…find his kidnapped friend. If this is the first Sam Jenkins mystery you pick up, it won’t be your last.
    Marianne Spitzer, author

    This story takes you on twists and turns that are unexpected, making the book hard to put down. Another great job by Wayne Zurl!
    Margaret Millmore, author

    Sure, Heroes & Lovers had a good-old-fashioned mystery at the heart of the book. But, this book also delved into who Sam Jenkins is as a person. It’s the human connection that speaks to me… This book is so much more than a mystery or a detective novel. The author tackles some very serious issues…with humor and compassion. He’s created flawed, but likable characters…And all was redeemed in the end. Zurl ties up his loose ends superbly. The book was a pleasure to read from beginning to end, and that’s why I’ll be back for more Sam Jenkins books.
    Tricia Darmmeh, author

    Zurl captures the regional southeast flavor in his characters’ individual dialects, in his descriptive writing, and in his obvious affection for the locals. In this entry Sam has to solve the kidnapping of his friend, a local TV anchorwoman, and the assault of her cameraman… Mix in a crooked car repairman, an active drug trade, political interference, and a lot of colorful characters and you have the makings for an entertaining story. I especially appreciated the satisfying ending, where several loose ends from the complex plot are all brought together. I liked this book a lot. Highly recommended.
    Jerold Last, author

    The reader will mentally view a superb story unfold, aided by excellent characters who do their jobs perfectly. Zurl uses descriptions of his characters and their surroundings with skill. The dialogue is perfect and realistic.
    Lee Carey, author

    My uncle Lou used the word spiffy to infer that an individual had class, was cool, and had his act together… it describes Sam Jenkins…Sam is a hero with pizzazz.
    Author Roy L. Murry

    I love Sam’s wit and humor along with his ability to see what other’s may not. He is charming and lovable and of course the ladies all love him and I like that in spite of his charm he is faithful to his wife Katherine, who may have a smaller role in the story but definitely not a minor role in Sam’s life.
    Kathleen Kelley, reviwer

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It…kept my attention from start to finish. I wasn’t expecting it to end the way that it did. Always a good sign!
    Melissa Waldron, reviewer

    Every once in a while a really good crime / police mystery comes along that just grabs your attention and doesn’t let go until the end. And that is what Heroes & Lovers has done for me! This is the first Sam Jenkins Mystery novel that I have read, but it will not be the last. Author Wayne Zurl weaves an intriguing tale that is just a plain good ol’ fashion mystery that could only be told by a person with years of prior police experience. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style: the mixture of humor, intrigue and romantic drama engages the reader, while the story has enough twists and turns [to] keep the reader guessing what will happen next. With rich descriptions and details of the Great Smoky Mountains and rural Tennessee setting and dialect, to Sam’s sarcastic personality and the witty banter between the characters, Heroes & Lovers is an entertaining story that crime/police mystery fans will thoroughly enjoy.

    Kathleen Anderson, reviewer



    The plot is sound and interesting. The author’s characters are likeable and believable.

    The author has taken an assortment of characters from all over the country and the world and woven them into a thoroughly enjoyable mystery. I look forward to the next installment of the ‘Sam Jenkins Mystery Series’.

    Paul J. for Readers Favorite

    Wayne Zurl’s writing, with its home grown Tennessee humor mixed with New York sarcasm, will have you laughing. But when it comes to police procedure, his writing is on spot—according to me, a police TV series nut case.

    Roy Murry, author & reviewer

    We travel along on a page turning read....really wild and entertaining. The way things turn out is nothing less than amazing. I loved it. I for one will be reading more of Chief Sam Jenkins mysteries!!

    Maureen, Amazon customer

    Zurl has a wonderful way with words and [a] hardy imagination. He's so creative, his main character Sam Jenkins is really someone I would love to know, [and] especially work with. I just don't think I would want to commit a crime with him around. Sam is brilliant. His sense of humor, witty comments, and all around knowledge make reading these mysteries that much more entertaining.

    Patricia Foltz, Way2Kool Reviews

    Absolutely superb. I was groused in by page one. This was the real stuff. The best aspect of this book is the incredible authenticity of police work. The details and the glimpses into what "real" police life is like, fueled by Wayne Zurl's experience as a cop, [are] remarkably refreshing. If more detective/cop books were like this, I would seek [out] this genre more frequently. Parts of the book made me feel as if someone had grabbed and twisted my guts.

    In terms of its craft, one of the best books I've read in years. For me, a delightful read well worth the effort.

    Tracy Shew, Amazon customer.

    Reviews on From New York to the Smokies...
    ~ Captivating – entertaining
    Wayne Zurl has done a superb job of creating unique characters and plot lines in this collection of short detective stories. Spattered with caustic observations and satirical interpolay between characters Wayne paints vivid pictures in the imagination. Captivating – entertaining. 
    **** ½  (four and one half stars) 
    BJ Gillum ~ Author Tennessee
    Reviews on A Can of Worms

    Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive . . .

    I loved this story with all its twists and turns about savvy Sam Jenkins, a tough-talking police chief with a soft heart, who tackles small town corruption in Prospect, Tennessee head-on. Chief Jenkins is a good man but he’s not afraid to bend the rules. The story revolves around Dallas Finchum, the goodhearted young policeman who is accused of rape. Mr. Zurl presents a host of other endearing characters and loathsome villains who are described in such exquisite detail that you feel like you know them personally. Another strong point of Mr. Zurl’s writing is that he weaves several interesting subplots into the main story that give it real substance. For example, his marriage to Kate is on shaky ground but he is determined to be faithful in spite of the strong attraction between him and Rachel Williams, the beautiful and sexy newscaster.  And there is always the tension between outspoken Sam and his former buddies from New York City, John and Vinnie, and the locals such as mayor Ronnie Shields. Mr. Zurl's years of experience as a NYPD detective give this book its authentic feel. The dialog is spot on and the ending is a surprise. There is so much to like about the hero Sam Jenkins and the story. I’ve read a few crime stories by well-known authors over the years but I would have to list this one at the top.

    Sam Bledsoe ~ Author


    Reviews on Murder in Knoxville

    This collection of short stories have characters that are memorable. It has been several months since I read this book and I still remember the stories. The main character Sam Jenkins is a "character." Wayne Zurl had done an excellent job of bringing his stories to life so that the reader will want to read more books by this author. Every story was a good read and some are humorous such as By the Horns of a Cow. I will be reading more from this author.

    Nadine Richmond ~  AGT member and author

    Good read! Appalachian murder tales by a transplanted NY police detective

    Wayne Zurl brings us six stories of murder and mischief that showcase small-town police chief Sam Jenkins and his crew in Zurl’s second collection of novelettes. The relationship and banter between him and his amour, Kate, bring to mind Robert B. Parker’s characters Spencer and Susan Silverman. Sam himself, is an original, a NY transplant like the author. The plots vary from murder to a stolen statue of a cow and they kept me eagerly reading all the way!

    Kaye George ~ AGT member and mystery author

    Reviews on The Great Smoky Mountain Bank Job...

    This is a very readable collection of Zurl’s stories. He has put out several volumes of Sam Jenkins tales. As usual, these are on the long side for short stories, but you’ll zip through them. Jenkins, the sheriff of tiny Prospect, located in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, solves six mysteries with the help of his Sergeant, Bettye Lambert, and others.

    I think the title story was my favorite, but I liked them all. Jenkins is a transplant to Tennessee from the New York police department, as is Zurl himself. I especially thought “The Butlers Did It” was cleverly done. All the characters come off the page and the settings are authentic and real, too. The stories will stay with you after you’ve enjoyed them. Highly recommended for mystery readers.

    Kaye George ~ Award winning and best-selling author of mystery novels and short stories.

Interview with Author

Tell us a little about yourself, whatever you’d like to share to introduce yourself

Tell us a little about yourself, whatever you’d like to share to introduce yourself

Karen, you ask good questions. I needed an extra day to provide intelligent answers. Now, let’s see if anyone else thinks I’m as clever as I do. Here’s a little something about me:

Shortly after World War Two ended, I was born in Brooklyn, New York. Although I never wanted to leave a community with such an efficient trolley system, I had little to say in my parents’ decision to pick up and move to Long Island where I grew up.

Like most American males of the baby-boomer generation, I spent my adolescence wanting to be a cowboy, soldier, or policeman. Those aspirations were based on a child’s perceptions fostered by movies and later television.

The Vietnam War and additional time in the reserves accounted for my career as a soldier. After returning to the US and separating from active duty, the New York State Employment Service told me I possessed no marketable civilian skills. So, I became a cop. That was as close to military life as I could find. I spent 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, I served as a section commander supervising investigators. Thanks to the GI Bill, I graduated from Empire State College with a couple of degrees and now that I’m retired from the police service, I still like the cowboy idea, but have interrupted that aspiration with an attempt at being a mystery writer.

Years ago, I left the land of the Big Apple to live in the picturesque foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee with my wife, Barbara.

Twenty (20) of my Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. Ten (10) of these novelettes are now available in print under the titles of A MURDER IN KNOXVILLE and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries and REENACTING A MURDER and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries.

My first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, won Indie and Eric Hoffer Book Awards for best mystery and best commercial fiction in 2011 and 2012, and was a finalist for a Montaigne Medal and First Horizon Book Award. My other novels are A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT and HEROES & LOVERS. A fourth book, PIGEON RIVER BLUES, is under contract to be published in the near future.

Going beyond that canned biography, I now live in one of the most beautiful parts of the United States, just outside the most visited national parks in the country. In addition to spending my days writing and taking care of five acres of woodland, I’ve returned to something I’ve enjoyed since I was a small boy, fishing. I still use tackle from the 1950s and never mind throwing back those really big old lunkers that wouldn’t taste good and sort of remind me of myself.

How did you get started writing?

How did you get started writing?

There are a few defense attorneys who might say I began writing police fiction when I was still a cop. But back then, we called them prosecution worksheets. No one should ever believe a lawyer. My real writing career began after I retired. For almost ten years, I wrote non-fiction magazine articles about Colonial American history and the writings of James Fenimore Cooper. In 2006, I switched to fiction. I saw my first novelette published in 2009 and a full length novel debuted in 2011.

What appeals to you about the genre that you write?

What appeals to you about the genre that you write?

I cash in on the old author’s maxim of write what you know. With police mysteries set in Tennessee I can cover both bases: subject and venue. My protagonist is a former New York detective who retired and found a job as police chief for a small city in the Smoky Mountains. Like me, he would investigate crimes the old-fashioned way. In police language, he’s a dinosaur.

I take actual cases I investigated, supervised, or knew a lot about and transplant them to Tennessee. This whole procedure saves me from doing all but a bare minimum of research.

What is your favorite part of writing?

What is your favorite part of writing?

The seventh word in that sentence. Writing is fun. All that Facebook and Twitter nonsense needed to market the books is too much like work.

If you had to give up writing and do something else, what would you do instead?

If you had to give up writing and do something else, what would you do instead?

I collect three pensions and think my royalty checks are pitifully small. So, I write to stabilize my ego on a livable level and keep me from playing stickball in the traffic not to make money. Right now, if I had to take a job to occupy my time, I’d probably want to be a charter boat captain. I’ve owned boats most of my life, know how to behave on the water, and the work would be fun.

What’s your favorite meal of the day?

What’s your favorite meal of the day?

No doubt about it—dinner. My wife is a great cook. I like to cook, and we’re not afraid of the clean up. We rarely eat prepared foods or frozen meals. It’s almost like going to a restaurant.

Which are your favorite characters to write, the female characters or the male characters? The heroes and heroines, or the villains?

Which are your favorite characters to write, the female characters or the male characters? The heroes and heroines, or the villains?

This is a tough one. I use a lot of dialogue in my books and I love the conversations between Sam Jenkins and the three women in his life—his wife, Kate, Bettye Lambert, his administrative officer and desk sergeant, and Rachel Williamson, his friend the TV reporter. Each lady handles him differently. I’d say, they’re my favorites, but since most of the characters I use are based on real people, I like the idea of duplicating the delivery and style of speech for these quirky and unique personalities. If I can “hear” and “see” someone I know, it’s easy to write their dialogue and develop their character.

One of the things I dislike about my kind of story is killing off a few of the bad guys. Sometimes they’re so evil, I hate to see them go. I’d like to get more mileage from these real rats.

Are you an avid reader? When you do read someone else’s writing, what is your favorite genre?

Are you an avid reader? When you do read someone else’s writing, what is your favorite genre?

I’m constantly reading something. For years, I read lots of historical fiction. When I was a cop, I rarely read mysteries or police fiction. Then one day someone gave me a copy of James Lee Burke’s book BLACK CHERRY BLUES and I got hooked. From him I moved on to guys like Robert B. Parker, Raymond Chandler, Joe Wambaugh, and that other fellow from Long Island who tries to write mysteries, Nelson DeMille.

Many writers dream of having the ideal location to write. If you could live anywhere in the world or live a particular lifestyle, where would you be answering these questions right now?

Many writers dream of having the ideal location to write. If you could live anywhere in the world or live a particular lifestyle, where would you be answering these questions right now?

We almost moved to Scotland when I retired, but thanks to the US dollar sinking and the exchange rate being abysmal, we changed plans. But since you’re allowing me a fantasy existence, I’ll take a renovated old stone cottage on a few acres of headland near a harbor town in the Western Highlands. I would happily sit in front of a picture window overlooking the sea and the islands sipping single-malt whisky and write about an ex-New York detective who moved to Scotland and helps the local constables solve crimes.

If you were a color, what color would you be and why?

If you were a color, what color would you be and why?

Questions like this are too abstract for me. So, what do I do? Simple, ask my wife. She thinks I should be Great Lakes blue. We’ve just started fishing up there and I’m amazed at the expanse and beauty we cover in a boat.

If that doesn’t work, how about orange? I love the autumn and the foliage here in the Smokies is almost as spectacular as it was in New York’s Adirondacks.

My Latest Blogs

21 February 2018
Tips & Hints
Short Stories


Shake and Bake and Double-O Buckshot

By Wayne Zurl


This story was fabricated from an outtake which originally appeared in the Sam Jenkins novel, A NEW PROSPECT. I reworked it to create a stand-alone story. The scene was deleted prior to publication because it didn’t provide ancillary support to the basic storyline. It’s based on two actual incidents which took place in New York in the 1970s.



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18 January 2018
Short Stories


Whenever someone asks me what well-known author has influenced my writing most, I tell them the late Robert B. Parker. Parker in turn had been greatly influenced by Raymond Chandler. So, I’ll assume some of his style rubbed off on me, too. Characters like Spenser and Marlowe are good role models for any all-American boy.


In January of 2010, Parker passed away in his Boston townhouse. I was then attending an on-line writer’s workshop called thenextbigwriter.com. News of Parker’s death made the rounds of the daily forums and elicited many sad comments and kind words. A lot of people, me included, would miss him and the characters he created.


I wrote this piece shortly after his death. For this anniversary, I’d like to post it again.



So Long, Bob, and Thanks for the Memories


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20 November 2017
Short Stories

If my world hadn't changed in 1957 perhaps the outcome of the latest World Series would have bothered me. But the Dodgers abandoned Brooklyn when I was just a kid and I vowed never to watch a major league ball game for as long as I lived.

A couple years ago a friend asked a few mystery writers to each give him a short story for his blog with baseball as the theme. This what I came up with.



By Wayne Zurl

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30 October 2017
Short Stories

A few years go I entered a contest and one first prize. My big grand award: A free copy of the sponsor's Southgern Writers magazine. The rules were simple: Less than 200 words and the story must begin with, I've had wonderful holidays...

This what I submitted.


A Halloween Collar

By Wayne Zurl

“I’ve had wonderful holidays, but this wasn’t one of them.” After that sentiment, I smacked the kid on the back of his head.

A rubber ghoul mask fell from his hand to the floor and he pulled in his head like a frightened turtle.

“Up yours,” he said.

I grabbed his nose and put my face an inch from his ear. “The next time I hit you, smartass, you’ll lose a few teeth.”

His eyes strained to look at me. I removed my fingers from his beak.

“I chased you four blocks, nitwit, and ripped my pants going over that fence. I am not a happy policeman. I’ll ask again. Where did you get those fireworks?”

A slight smile crossed his face. “I forget.”

I smacked him again, this time on his ear and a little harder.

His hand went defensively to his head. “I’ll have your badge for that, man.”

“I doubt that you little stinkbug. Blowing up a mailbox is a felony. Talk or go to jail. Where did you get the M-80s?”

He cracked an arrogant smirk. “From my father, the chief inspector.”


PS: The title of this blog entry is in honor of my buddy Phlash Phelps, morning DJ on Sirius/XM Radio's 60's on 6, for mentioning my last novel, HONOR AMONG THIEVES, on his show. He had a cameo spot in the book.

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10 October 2017
Special Offers
Tips & Hints

Best selling writer Jerry B. Jenkins (no relation to my recurring main charaster, Sam Jenkins, or to my maternal side of the family) has asked me to post a link to his new guide on how to write a book in 20 steps from beginning to end on my personal website. After doing that, I thought the AGT members might be interested in obtaining a copy. Here's the link to Jerry's site.  https://www.jerryjenkins.com/how-to-write-a-book/

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06 October 2017
Short Stories

After the recent Las Vegas massacre by a supposed lone gunman armed with multiple assault weapons, sevral people asked me for my take on the possibility that this individual really acted alone and basically what I think of common sense gun control. I'd like to wait for a final conclusion of the investigtors on the ground at the scene before theorizing too much about the first question, but The overall idea of COMMON SENSE gun control has always appealed to me. I DO NOT advocate banning all guns from civilians entitled and qualified to purchase and own them; any legislation pointed in that direction is nothing more than a waste of time and a disaster waiting to happen. However, the laws as now written are disjointed nationwide and in need of COMMON SENSE refurbishment. A quick fix would not be overly difficult, but should be addressed by people who understand statute law, the public's right to basic protection from incidents like these and the point of view of the average law-abiding gun owner.

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10 September 2017


Sit-Rep on the 2017 Maynardville “Thunder Road Author Rally”


There is good news and bad news.


The good: This is a free indoor event in the library and attached senior center, and the attached civic center if the number of participating writers warrants it. You bring your own table. If you absolutely need a table, they will provide one. Chairs are provided. This was the 5thyear for this gathering of writers.


They did a lot of advertising locally and on Facebook.


This year 38 of the 45 writers signed-up actually appeared to set up shop. There was plenty for a shopper to look at.


The library does not ask for a percentage of your sales. They do ask for a donated book(s) to put in their collection, which is the largest number of independent authors within the Tennessee Library System. These books are available to all participating libraries through inter-library loans. The donation is optional.


They even have one or two volunteers to help carry your gear into the sales room.


They administer a giveaway program for any author who would like to display a book(s) as one of their door-prizes.


Every patron/customer is given an author check list to be initialed by each table holder for the customers to qualify for a door prize. This insures everyone visits every table—at least to have their form signed.


After the end of the sale, (1 PM) the library staff sets up a complimentary buffet lunch. It’s partially pot-luck and they ask that if you are eating, you bring something, but that is optional. They will not deny anyone a meal.


The bad: There was fairly limited attendance. Of the AGT members there, I seem to have been the big seller of the day with a whopping 3 books. Russ, BJ, Sharon and Sue each sold one book. I didn’t get Jim Hartsell’s sales information before leaving. Let’s hope Jim checks in with better results, so I can relinquish my dubious honor.


The incidental: This is a very social event. Many of the non-AGT writers all know each other from other book sales all around the state and the area and spend much time socializing. Book sales seem to be immaterial to most/many of the participants.

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19 August 2017
Tips & Hints

How I Used Author Reach to Increase My List of eMail Subscribers


Many of us met Josh Wiley when he spoke at an AGT monthly meeting about his company Author Reach and how they could help a writer manage and build their email lists to reach more potential book buyers. I’ve been using them since their “Beta” days and continue to use them while marketing my books via mass emails.


But the story goes back further than that AGT meeting in Farragut. I received a tip from another writer who had extraordinary success with this method of book marketing. Here’s that story:


I met Micheal Maxwell at an on-line writer’s workshop more than ten years ago. He wrote mysteries. I wrote mysteries. We critiqued each other’s work, watched each other progress in the publishing world, and kept in contact. Now, with many published novels and stories under our belts, we’re again working together to meet new readers and market our books in a new and less traditional way.


Micheal called me to talk about Author Reach. He briefed me on the concept of building a list of subscribers so we would not only sell a book or two to mystery fans the conventional way, but build lasting relationships with readers who liked the characters in our series.


Micheal started the ball rolling by sending a mass email via Author Reach announcing the release of his new book. He got great results. We spoke again and he emphasized how I NEEDED to get logged in with Author Reach.


So, I put myself in gear and did so. Then we arranged for a cross promotion. We added all my email followers to his more extensive list and sent out an email blast or as it’s called at Author Reach, an eBlast.  In a week, I gained 766 new subscribers and had as many downloads for my book, A NEW PROSPECT. I was more than pleased with the results. As writers, we’re not in competition; we’re acting as partners by sharing potential fans. The subscribers decide whether they wish to take advantage of what we’re offering—no high pressure, no hassles. Several months and several promotions later, I now have over 1,400 new subscribers, all buying books.


I’m told this concept of subscriber list sharing will soon become a standard feature on Author Reach, called “Author Connect,” where authors not acquainted, but who write in like genres can meet and promote their books together.


Something potential Author Reach members need to know: When it comes to computers, I’m barely a step above clueless. “Don’t worry,” Micheal said. “The guys at Author Reach will help you with all the technical work.” “Yeah,” said I. “I’ve heard that before.”


How did Wayne make out, you ask? Take a look at the profile page I created…with help from Corey Alderin, co-owner of Author Reach and their technical support man. https://waynezurl.authorreach.com/


I have what’s called a “lead generation page” currently offering my first book, A NEW PROSPECT, for free. You want a free award-winning book? All you have to do is give me your email address (so I can send it) and agree to put your address on my list of subscribers. Easy. The reader wins. And the writer wins. Also shown are my biography and all the books in the Sam Jenkins police mystery series with links to summaries and purchase places. Not bad for a computer dummy. You can’t argue with success.


Only have one book? Don’t want to give away your “Great American Novel” for free? No problem. You must have another story in you, or even better a novelette. That’s something with a 7,500 to 17,500 word count and a perfect thing to give away to people with little time to read those 500 page epics. Write and publish the novelette. Get yourself a snazzy cover that will inspire people to want to read your story. Then create a lead generation page and offer that free eBook in exchange for their email address and agreement to become one of your subscribers. Not sure how to do all that. Visit http://www.authorreach.com/page/features for a video demonstration or ask Josh or Corey how you can best market your books. They’ll give you personalized service.




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19 August 2017
Special Offers

Hello AGT members and website visitors,

My new anthology is in the final stages of publication. I just received the semi-final PDF version that will be used to produce the hardcopies and all eBook versions. Now, the publisher asked me to look for "Advanced Copy" readers who are willing to read the book and within 30 days after it goes up for sale, post a reveiw at Amazon and/or Goodreads. 

If anyone is interested, please send me an email address where you'd like this PDF file sent. Please note: This copy contains several typos or errors that have been found and will be corrected before the true final vversoins are released to the public.

Okay, here's the information on the new book:

THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN BANK JOB and other Sam Jenkins Mysteries


Six novelettes originally produced as one hour audio books are now available for the 1st time in print.

Murder in a Wish-Book House

V is for Vitamin?

Fate of a Floozy

The Great Smoky Mountain Bank Job

Hurricane Blow Up

The Butlers Did It

Back cover summary:

When your high school classmate shows up on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, can your police career get any more interesting? As a favor to a beautiful treasury agent, Prospect, Tennessee’s police chief Sam Jenkins handles a cold case robbery-homicide and clears the forty-three year old mystery of THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN BANK JOB.

                In MURDER IN A WISH-BOOK HOUSE, Sam investigates the most grisly murder of his career. Then, in V IS FOR…VITAMIN?, he works with an eighty-four year old partner to solve a suspicious death in a nursing home where all the suspects are well beyond their prime.

                Hollywood meets the Smokies in FATE OF A FLOOZY when an academy award winner is murdered during her love affair with a much younger man. HURRICANE BLOW UP and THE BUTLERS DID IT pits Jenkins against some very lethal characters when he tackles eastern European hoods who intend on causing mayhem in Prospect, and bank robbers who flee to the far corners of southern Appalachia to escape capture.


Thank you all,



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07 August 2017
Tips & Hints


What’s In a Name?

By Wayne Zurl


A simple and common question, but the correct answer can make your story or novel jump from forgettable to memorable.


I named my protagonist, Sam Jenkins, after my maternal grandfather. But beyond the familial connection, I thought it sounded right for an ex-New York detective who retired and found himself a job as police chief in a small Tennessee town. Jenkins is a good working-class Scottish or Welsh family name and Sam conjures up thoughts of the famous gumshoe, Sam Spade.


Sound is important in writing. Everything verbal needs rhythm. I always read my stories aloud. If they don’t flow and sound good, I change the text or dialogue—something like a songwriter. You need a smooth transition from sentence to sentence, not bumps. The sound of a name is just as important. Call your heroine Betty Boop not Sally Valli.


Image is also important. What or who do you envision when you hear a name? Who would call the leader of an outlaw motorcycle club Casper Milquetoast?


Everything I write takes place in rural Appalachia. The Smoky Mountain region has its own crop of unique family and given names. So, I couldn’t get away with naming a lifelong resident of Prospect Anton Jablonowski. Billy Don Loveday works better.


Everyone’s stories take place somewhere and that somewhere has its own colloquial names. When I lived in New York, I knew people like Vito Cavettelli, Rosa Gemmelli, Stanley Kapusta, et al. They won’t work in Tennessee or even during my character’s occasional forays into southern Kentucky.


Here’s how I find memorable names for my characters:

My wife and I travel a lot. After we settle into a motel room, mix a cocktail, and turn on a rerun of NCIS, one of us grabs a telephone book and looks for typically regional names. We make two columns—one for first names and one for surnames. When I need something for an important character, I mix and match by sound and what fits the personality.


Other options:
Steal names from billboards or occasionally, highway exit signs. In Georgia, I used two towns to make one character—Varnell Watkins. Political campaign posters are great sources, too. When I needed a handle for a totally repulsive-looking and despicable antagonist featured in the novel A CAN OF WORMS, two candidates unwittingly donated their names. Someone running for office in a neighboring county had the family name Bone. A real keeper. Another candidate was called Telford Something. Voila, Telford Bone surfaced and became a character I hope no one forgets.


Remember the basics. Guys like Luke Skywalker don’t live in Brattleboro, Vermont. Hopalong Cassidy is probably from Wyoming or thereabouts. Chip Cooper might be found cruising Sunset Strip, while Jamal Willie Walker is bopping down Stuyvesant Avenue in Brooklyn.  Larry Finklestein works as a podiatrist in Roslyn on Long Island.



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12 July 2017
Author Events
Festival & Fairs

Rockwood Grand Vista Bay will host a book fair for local authors on November 4, 2017. At present this is a one time event, but may blossom into a regular venue for local writers depending on attendance. Contact AGT member Russ Fine for more details. 

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22 June 2017
Short Stories

This piece was destined for a contest that required everyone to begin their story with the line, “Have we met before?” I got that far, but drastically exceeded the word limit. So here we are. I gave the detective/hero of this saga the name Ian MacDonald because I wanted it ending with him getting the girl. And it would have been inappropriate for the long time married Sam Jenkins to do that.

A Too Perfect Crime
By Wayne Zurl

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02 June 2017
My friend, author Micheal Maxwell, has started a writer's marketing forum that will discuss ways to obtain more reviews, build a larger fan base and do a better overall job of marketing your books through the Internet. Anyone interested take a look at https://authorreach.mn.co/share/CTr2xtzYqRpF5MIB Membership if free.
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05 May 2017
Short Stories

Here's another 1970s police adventure featuring Sam and Louie patroling the Long Island ghetto of North Bellport, a place known to the street cops as Pace Park. 


Shots Fired

By Wayne Zurl

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27 April 2017
Tips & Hints

Perfect is Boring

Wayne Zurl


When I began writing police mysteries I said to myself, “Aha! This is fiction, not a documentary. I have the opportunity to make everything come out perfectly.”


I thought it would be cool to chronicle my old cases and correct any mistakes or ask the questions that never came to mind or make the clever comments I only thought of the day after. It looked like an “if only” moment—a chance for perfection.


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21 April 2017
Tips & Hints

Yesterday I posted the late Elmore Leonard’s best advice for good writing. Not everyone agreed with the old boy. Neither did I. Well, I liked 3 or 4 of his rules, but didn’t exactly agree with the rest. But those were his ideas and he has been successful.


Today I’ll try to get back into everyone’s good graces with my own advice. This is one I believe in—100%.


For many of us writing is fun. It’s what comes afterward, the promotions and marketing, that’s too much like work. But that’s life, and something authors must do.

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20 April 2017
Tips & Hints

What was Leonard’s secret to success as a writer? Here are 10 tips which were taken from a New York Times article, “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle.”

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10 April 2017
Short Stories

Anyone who has read one of my Sam Jenkins mysteries will see the the connection to this short bit of sci-fi / steam punk foolishness. 


Wayne Zurl

A Sam Jenkins time travel / parallel universe story

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31 March 2017
Tips & Hints


By Wayne Zurl


My problem isn’t unique to writers. If your personality demands that you and other people get the facts straight, you might cringe when you hear blatantly incorrect statements.


As a cop, I hated to hear crimes mislabeled. Most often, I encountered misuse of the term robbery. People would greet me at the door and say, “My house was robbed.” I got tired of saying, “Sorry, ma’am, only a person can be robbed. You weren’t home when someone broke in. It’s a burglary.” They’d look at me like I just said Santa Claus was a pedophile.

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18 March 2017


Reviews/endorsements Wayne Zurl books

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