STORYLINE: Sam Jenkins comes out of retirement and takes on the job as chief of police in Prospect, Tennessee. Within days of taking the position, a prominent citizen is murdered. Sam decides to investigate, however, the local old boys/politico club stymies the investigation. Not to be deterred, Sam continues working on the case and solves the crime, despite the opposition.
Sam Jenkins – retired detective from Long Island, New York. Sam is a seasoned policeman, complex, yet laid back. His biggest draw as a character is that he’s a true gentleman. His sense of humor had me laughing out loud at times. This hero reminded me of guys like Dean Martin and John Wayne. I’d say he personifies someone from a time when people were more civilized in their dealings with each other.
Bettye Lambert – the administrative officer and Sam’s sidekick and sounding board. I enjoyed the rapport between these two and the way Sam involved his staff in the investigation he wasn’t supposed to be running.
Cecil Lovejoy – is not someone I’d normally mention as he is the homicide victim, but Zurl created the perfect butt-plug in this character. That indelicate description kinda covers all I need to say about him.
Pearl Lovejoy – wife of the slain butt-plug. She epitomizes what happens when individuals with money and power act as stumbling blocks in the way of those carrying out their duty.
I LIKED: being inside Sam’s head, seeing what he thought of other characters and being up close and personal with his brand of humor. I didn’t always get the movie references and one of the early clues went over my head, but everything eventually gelled.
Sam fancied himself as something of a ladies’ man, and it was entertaining to follow him as he interacted with his assistant, a flamboyant realtor who helped him with some useful information, and the television anchor who was bent on getting the scoop on the case. He was never offensive and was gentle even when discouraging said realtor above. I also liked the title, which is a clever play on words and a good way to kick start this series.
I COULD HAVE LIVED WITHOUT: the choice of spelling used to distinguish the deep southern accent of some of the characters. I understand what the writer was trying to do, but caught myself vocalizing their words to understand what they were saying. That provided some amusement in itself though.
OVERALL COMMENTS: The book started out at what felt like the pace of a leisurely stroll. I followed Sam around, getting acquainted with his new job and hometown. I’m guessing this was probably the author’s intention, to ground the reader.
A New Prospect was a pleasant change of pace for me. There was no shoot-’em-up bad guys in this story, but I enjoyed shadowing Sam as he unravelled the crime. There were a number of red herrings, which gave this reader cause to doubt her assumption on the identity of the killer. The events leading up to the big reveal made sense and the way the novel ended was unusual and completed the picture of Sam as a true hero and a gentleman. He did some fancy footwork on the way and stymied the very people who acted as stumbling blocks on his quest for the truth. More power to you, Sam, was my comment.
SOURCE: I got A New Prospect through the publisher. I’m a ’net acquaintance of the writer, but not previously familiar with his work.
RATING: A New Prospect was truly awesome.