Heroes & Lovers
by Wayne Zurl
Published 9/2012 by Iconic Publishing
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Sam Jenkins might say, “Falling in love is like catching a cold. It’s infectious and involuntary. Just don’t sneeze on any innocent people.”
Getting kidnapped and becoming infatuated with a married policeman never made TV reporter Rachel Williamson’s list of things to do before Christmas. But helping her friend, Sam Jenkins, the ex-New York detective and now police chief in Prospect, Tennessee, with a fraud investigation would get her an exclusive story. It all sounded exciting and made her station manager happy.
Sam’s investigation put Rachel in the wrong place at the wrong time and her abduction by a mentally disturbed fan, ruined several days of her life. When Jenkins learns Rachel has gone missing, he cancels holiday leaves, mobilizes the personnel at Prospect PD, and enlists his friends from the FBI to help find her. During the early stages of the investigation, Sam develops several promising leads, but as they begin to fizzle, his prime suspect drops off the planet and all the resources of the FBI aren’t helping. After a lucky break and a little old-fashioned pressure on an informant produce an important clue, the chief leads his team deep into the Smoky Mountains to rescue his friend. But after Rachel is once again safe at home, he finds their problems are far from over.
Disclaimer: Wayne and I are both associated with the same publisher. The author provided me an unedited ARC in exchange for an honest review.
My Review: The other day, a Sam Jenkins Mystery fan told me Heroes & Lovers is a bit different from the other books in the series and suggested it might have been better if I’d started with an earlier Sam Jenkins book. You see, I’m new to Sam Jenkins. And, quite honestly, I don’t usually pick up police/crime-fighting/detective books. But, what can I say? I’m a sucker for a free book. Once the book came in the mail, I started getting a little nervous. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get into it.
I started reading the book and didn’t want to stop. I’m glad I picked the Sam Jenkins Mystery that’s ‘a bit different from the other books.’ And here’s why:
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, not police procedure, and shootings, and everything else I expected to find in a police-oriented novel. I like to think I learned a thing or two by reading this book. After all, Wayne Zurl is a retired police officer, so this book is very authentic. But, Wayne doesn’t club the reader over the head with police-talk (thank goodness). This book is so much more than a mystery or a detective novel. The author tackles some very serious issues – kidnapping, drug trafficking, and a couple of other issues I don’t want to mention because I don’t want to give away too much of the plot – with humor and compassion. He’s created flawed, but likable characters. And, though there were a few scenes where I found myself rolling my eyes in frustration with some of the choices the characters made, all was redeemed in the end.
The ending… ah, this is where so many authors falter. I’m old enough to realize that not every book can have a sunshine and rainbows happy ending. But, I’m also too old to read book that doesn’t tie up all the loose ends. Life is too short to be kept guessing. And, 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.