Synopsis: Pigeon River Blues
Winter in the Smokies can be a tranquil time of year—unless Sam Jenkins sticks his thumb into the sweet potato pie.
The retired New York detective turned Tennessee police chief is minding his own business one quiet day in February when Mayor Ronnie Shields asks him to act as a bodyguard for a famous country and western star.
C.J. Profitt’s return to her hometown of Prospect receives lots of publicity . . . and threats from a rightwing group calling themselves The Coalition for American Family Values.
The beautiful, publicity seeking Ms. Proffit never fails to capitalize on her abrasive personality by flaunting her lifestyle—a way of living the Coalition hates.
Reluctantly, Jenkins accepts the assignment of keeping C.J. safe while she performs at a charity benefit. But Sam’s job becomes more difficult when the object of his protection refuses to cooperate.
During this misadventure, Sam hires a down-on-his-luck ex-New York detective and finds himself thrown back in time, meeting old Army acquaintances who factor into how he foils a complicated plot of attempted murder, the destruction of a Dollywood music hall, and other general insurrection on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”
Bio: 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 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 available in print and as eBooks: A New Prospect, A Leprechaun’s Lament, Heroes & Lovers, and Pigeon River Blues.
For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series see http://www.waynezurlbooks.net. You may read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and see photos of the area where the stories take place.
Pigeon River Blues: Wayne Zurl
Life choices and lifestyles are each person’s personal business except when it interferes or goes against the beliefs of some single- minded people whose values differ. The Coalition for American Family Values has a strong leadership and they will stop at nothing to pronounce verbal sentences on anyone who goes against their teachings or beliefs. Mack Collinson and his 65-year-old mother Elnora along with Jeremy Goins run this organization and have set their sites on singer C.J. Profitt. C.J. is scheduled to perform in the small town of Prospect filled with redneck values and what some might think a backwater police force. But, stirring up their own pan of bacon or moonshine, this group has decided to warn C.J. of the consequences she will face if she returns to perform at Dollywood for a fundraiser. Now, you might ask what has gotten this group so excited and forced poor Elnora to fire up her old typewriter and write six notes warning C.J. not to dare step foot in this good old town filled with Christian people and Christian values: C.J. is a Lesbian just out of the closet and her lack of tack and respect for people does not endear anyone even close to her.
But, when the threatening notes are not available and are confiscated how can Chief of Police Sam Jenkins prove who sent them. But, with his team of unorthodox officers we meet Stanley Rose, a mayor who has his own agenda in mind when asking that Chief of Police Sam Jenkins take on the role of a secret service agent and protect dear C.J. who does anything but endear herself to him. Annoyance at first words or sight and she cannot be bothered with anyone. Rules are for other people to follow and along with her assistant Jenny Mitchell, they make Sam’s life impossible. Known for his handsome face and awesome smile how can this diva resist him, but she does! But, there’s much more as an old friend calls Sam hopes to enlist his help with finding a job a former Police Detective and Sam gets roped in. John Gallagher, enters his world, becomes part of his team and readers will now be taught a whole new language germane to this colorful man. The dialect is authentic to the area where the story takes place and the characters quite unique as we meet Sergeant Bettye of the Prospect PD as she attempts to keep Sam straight, takes care of the desk, handles every emergency and is definitely someone who wants on your team. Choosing officers for the protection team was not difficult for Sam but costly for the Mayor who designed the assignment and not only wanted him on this guard duty but was stuffing a new recruit on him as Sam wanted to hire a new Police Officer and the mayor had chosen the candidate. Harlan Flatt and Lenny Alcock would help with the guard duty each presenting their own strengths and definitely no weaknesses. But, things get dicey as we learn more about Jenny, her relationship with C.J. and the presence of her father who claims being there to keep his daughter safe. But, something about him does not ring true and Sam uses contacts that most small town Police Chiefs might not have and enlists the help of a newscaster named Rachel, his wild rapport with her, the bantering and the fun conversations as each one bargains, gives in and then owes the other. But, wait until you finally meet John Black Cloud Gallagher you will love this guy.
As the team is in place and they surveillance seems fine a phone call to Sam gets things off in a different direction. An officer volunteers to join the team and winds up in the hospital. Trying to do his job not thinking anyone would try and poison C.J. he finds him the victim of atropine poisoning laced in Chinese Food. But, the methods employed are quite unique and Sam’s way of convincing suspects not what you would expect. So, if you encounter him and happen to be in his town and in trouble it might be better to comply, answer his questions and not be victim to his wrath and brand of justice.
Listening to the characters speak you can hear the South drawl, the slang expressions and the abuse of the English language. With his wife Kate who seems so understanding, does not give him a hard time and appreciates all he does, with strong marital values and others might question his friendship with Rachel Williamson his media resource. With a husband who attracts women and uses what he has to get information, it’s amazing that she never shows any signs of being jealous.
This is a small town and many are not as open minded as others and the prejudice that oozes from the Coalition, their antics, protesting without a permit and other illegal activities makes you stand up and applaud when Mack and his mother are brought in for questioning and she is arrested for writing the notes. A clever officer, a typewriter ribbon and some basic police work and things go in a different direction. Pigeon River Blues brings to light many current issues that are front and center in the news today. Many who are against those whose sexual preferences differ from their own, race, gender and even religious beliefs. Reaching out to the FBI, Pigeon River police department and showing that different agencies can actually work together and not step on too many toes, this novel proves that when people are pros and egos are not in question things get down. A town riddled with prejudice, some who might consider others not too bright yet when you look long and hard and dig deep the force and Sam’s team is equal to that of many big cities maybe better. With officers willing to go that extra mile what they uncover about someone close to C.J. changes the complexion of the entire investigation and puts her in mortal danger.
Risks are taken by Sam and his team and many might think that hiring a retired detective was foolish, but the author relates John’s skills, allows people to understand age means nothing when you can do the job and let’s here it for Seniors and not put them out to pasture. As the truth behind why C.J. is being stalked and threatened comes out an entire community is at stake. Someone just might want her dead and the mode of execution not easily found. Will Sam and his team stop a potential killer or will C.J. pay with her life? Will she cooperate with Sam or keep on fighting him? What happens when she realizes the who is behind the poisoning, what they have planned for her next and how this one incident set in motion a chain of events that would take down others too. Links to the army, officers that are corrupt, drugs, weapons and some on the take this novel will keep you riveted to the printed page, cheering for the entire Prospect Police force, hoping they can prove they got what it takes with an ending you won’t expect and a Police Chief who won’t give up until the gnawing feeling in the bit of his stomach is soothed by solving the case.
Fran Lewis: reviewer