Publication Date: March 22, 2016
The on-air reporter, Rachel Williamson, is kidnapped while helping Chief Sam Jenkins with a routine case. Sam soon discovers that the case is far from routine and poses a significant danger to both him and his missing friend. Heroes and Lovers is the third book in the Sam Jenkins series.
The author, Wayne Zurl, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
I have not read the first two books in the Sam Jenkin’s series. The benefit of reading the third book in the series first is that readers coming into the series for the first time are able to get to know Sam gradually through his movement in the story line. A less talented caricaturist may leave the reader feeling as though something is missed but Heroes and Lovers is an easy stand-alone novel. Sam Jenkins is a classic fiction mystery antagonist with the bearing of a Walt Longmire (Craig Johnson) or Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly); a classic law enforcement good guy with an uncommon spirit.
Jenkins is a simple guy with a complex life. Heroes and Lovers is character driven but follows the lines of police-procedural novels. Zurl is a retired police officer and clearly well acquainted with the nuts and bolts of working a case. The author doesn’t over complicate the story, giving the readers enough so they don’t feel that the technical details have been dumbed down for the non-law enforcement reader. The subject matter of kidnapping, drug dealing and death is serious business, but Sam’s humor and straightforward approach keeps the subject for feeling, like the vegetable that you’re dreading eating, but know you must to get to the good part of the meal.
Sam is very like Lucas Davenport (John Sandford) in that he’s a happily married flirt. He really cares about the women in his life but does not cross a line. Zurl’s characters are real people and fun to read. His writing is compact and polished. We see more than we’re told which lends itself to a faster-moving flow befitting the mystery genre.
I know the gorgeous area well in which the story is set and Zurl paints it to perfection. His Tennessee patois reads as authentic. Jenkins charms readers from page one. Heroes and Lovers is an intricately crafted novel and, while a series novel, many of the loose ends (some of which appear to carry over from previous novels in the series) are tied up.
From beginning to end, Heroes and Lovers is a great mystery novel and one that will stay with the reader and inspire a need to spend more time with Sam Jenkins and his crew in their world. I will be buying the rest of the series and it is one that I will buy on release day (readers of this blog will know I don’t say that often or lightly — Heroes and Lovers is just that good). If you’re a fan of really good mystery novels, solid police-procedurals and character-driven stories, pick Heroes and Lovers up today.
Read an excerpt and buy Heroes & Lovers by Wayne Zurl on