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.
Eight (8) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. His first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards by the Independent Publishing Professional’s Group. It is also available on Kindle.
For additional information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series see www.waynezurlbooks.net. You can read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and even see photos of the area where the stories take place.
Have You Considered Voodoo?
By Wayne Zurl
Long Island, New York, July 1977
At 3:30 on a hot and sunny Tuesday a uniformed officer walked into the 5th Squad Detective’s office. His blues were wrinkled and an eight-point cap sat on his head at a jaunty angle.
“Detective Jenkins,” he said, “I understand you’re getting the squeals today.”
“Officer Thomas, aren’t we being dreadfully formal?” I said.
“Yeah, I know. Listen, Sam I’m sorry, but the lieutenant said I should bring this over to you.”
He waved a carbon copy of a field report for a moment before handing it to me. I skipped the heading and read the synopsis of the incident.
“This is a dead cat. I can see it was murdered, but it’s only a misdemeanor in the Agriculture and Markets Law. Why are you giving it to me?”
“Read the top line. It’s a burglary. It happened in a house.”
“Great. House or not, you’d usually give something like this to Plainclothes as a misdemeanor investigation. Inside, outside, it’s still just a cat.”
“The LT said it’s the second similar event. Frampton and Leonard handled one the other day—dead chicken hanging on a front door. They gave it to PC. Marty Koenig is handling that.”
“And your boss thinks we have a serial animal killer?”
“Thank him for me, the moron. Like I’ve got nothing better to do than investigate dead cats.”
“What can I tell you, buddy?”
Twenty minutes later I stood in the kitchen of a house on River Avenue, in one of the flea bag sections of town.
An evidence technician puttered around processing the crime scene and the homeowner, one Cedric Bromley, stood next to me.
“Who would do this to my cat, mon?” Cedric spoke with a Jamaican accent.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Mr. Bromley. Have you had a problem with any of the neighborhood kids lately or a major argument with someone?”
“No, sir, I don’t argue with no-one.”
Cedric’s dreadlocks were tucked under a black, yellow, red, and green knitted cap. The smell of blood, urine, and feces tainted the air.
“This is not your average burglary, Cedric. Besides your cat having its throat cut and hung from the light above your sink, the person who did this took a dump on your kitchen table and left behind the remnants of a marijuana cigar behind. I’ve never seen a bomber that big before. Big time ganja.”
“I tell you, mon, I got no enemies. I don’t bother no-body. And not every Jamaican does drugs. I don’t know who did this.”
I left as the ET finished up his work and Cedric stood there dumbfounded.
Back in my unmarked car, I switched on the ignition and picked up the microphone.
“555 to headquarters, 10-33 with unit 501.”
“10-4, 555, switch down.”
I turned my radio to Frequency Two.
“Frampton or Leonard in the car?”
“10-4, that’s us.”
“Can you meet me at your relief point?”
“10-4, five minutes.”
It took me three minutes to drive to the railroad station. I waited.
A blue and white sector car pulled up next to my Plymouth with Frampton driving. He rolled down the window and showed me a wolfish grin.
“5th Squad needs help from the likes of us?”
His partner gave me a wave. I returned it.
“Yeah, one of the uniform lieutenants thinks we’ve got a serial killer in your sector.”
“Serial killer?” Frampton’s salt and pepper hair fell across his forehead and covered the tops of his ears. Not exactly regulation. He drove the supervisors crazy.
“A chicken and a cat,” I said.
He laughed. “We had the chicken. Who had the cat?”
“Thomas and Armstrong.”
“Where’d it happen?”
“Inside 215 River Avenue. Rastafarian named Cedric Bromley. Know him?”
“Yeah, Gary wrote him for a stop sign a couple months ago.”
“He into anything?”
“Not that we know of. He seemed okay. But all these Jamaicans like their ganja.”
“Tell me about the chicken.”
“There’s a Haitian family on West Street, just south of Main. We figured a neighbor didn’t like the smell of chicken shit from the coop they keep in the back yard. Cut one’s throat and hung it on the door knocker to bleed out. Weird thing was, somebody left a bag of human shit on the stoop and set it on fire.”
“Like a Halloween prank? Whoever comes out and stomps on the burning bag gets shit on his shoes?”
“Something like that.”
Leonard spoke for the first time. “Perp left behind a bomber roach with enough grass in it to roll another stingy joint.”
I walked back into the 5th Squad and tossed my keys and notebook on the desk.
“Whaddaya know, kid?” Detective Sergeant Louie Demarco asked.
“I know I’ve got too many real burglaries and a new armed robbery to think about to be spending time on assassinated cats and chickens.”
“That stuff in 501 sector?”
Louie was a small, middle-aged man with dark curly hair and an Errol Flynn mustache.
“You got it,” I said.
As Louie and I spoke, the squad commander, Lieutenant Harold York, walked out of his office.
“You working on that 10-3 with the dead cat, Sam?” he asked.
“Yeah, boss. Kinda weird. Louie tell you about it?”
“Yeah.” York was tall and distinguished-looking. With slicked back hair and a three piece brown suit.
“Any connection between the vics?”
“I don’t know. Got one Jamaican and a Haitian family. I’ll check for a connection.”
“Haitians and Jamaicans? Dead animals? Marijuana?”
“Have you considered Voodoo, Sam?”
The detective whose desk faced mine had about 200 years on the job and was always a good guy to ask for a second opinion.
“Hey, Dave, you ever handle anything involving Voodoo?”
“Voodoo? You got zombies doing stick-ups or what?”
“Gimme a break, huh? The LT brought up a good point.”
I explained the possibly related cases.
Detective Browne sat back in his chair with his fingers intertwined over his large belly. His blue and red striped tie ended at three buttons above his waistline.
“Voodoo my ass,” he said. “There’s some connection the vics aren’t telling you about. Nobody tells the whole truth.”
“Thanks, partner. You’ve been an immense help.” My voice dripped with sarcasm.
“Yeah, you’re so smart? Go out and look for some Voodoo mama with mojo.”
The next morning I walked in and looked at the clip board holding the reports that came in on the midnight tour. One grabbed my attention. I pulled the field report from under the spring-loaded clip.
“Hey, Louie,” I said to the sergeant. “Who caught the squeals from the midnights?”
“Richmond, but he’s not in yet.”
“Tell him I’ll take this burglary on Lake Street. I think it may be related to my cat and chicken.”
“You going there now?”
“Stopping for coffee first. The people may not be awake yet.”
***Stop back tomorrow for Part Two
Sam Jenkins never thought about being a fish out of water during the twenty years he spent solving crimes in New York. But things change, and after retiring to Tennessee, he gets that feeling. Jenkins becomes a cop again and is thrown headlong into a murder investigation and a steaming kettle of fish, down-home style.
The victim, Cecil Lovejoy, couldn’t have deserved it more. His death was the inexorable result of years misspent and appears to be no great loss, except the prime suspect is Sam’s personal friend.
Jenkins’ abilities are attacked when Lovejoy’s influential widow urges politicians to reassign the case to state investigators.
Feeling like “a pork chop at a bar mitzvah” in his new workplace, Sam suspects something isn’t kosher when the family tries to force him out of the picture.
In true Jenkins style, Sam turns common police practice on its ear to insure an innocent man doesn’t fall prey to an imperfect system and the guilty party receives appropriate justice.
A NEW PROSPECT takes the reader through a New South resolutely clinging to its past and traditional way of keeping family business strictly within the family.
Wayne will be giving away ten eBook's of A NEW PROSPECT as a PDF on August 5 to ten randomly drawn commenters. Don't forget to leave you contact information.