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I Will Find You, Detective Lt. Joe Kenda, Book Review

Updated on May 12, 2018
PegCole17 profile image

Peg Cole is a self-published author who writes true and fiction stories and book reviews, along with nostalgia and how-to articles.

Meet Joe Kenda

Carl Marino, the actor that plays Joe Kenda on the TV Series and Lt. Joe Kenda
Carl Marino, the actor that plays Joe Kenda on the TV Series and Lt. Joe Kenda | Source

Solving killer cases is what Joe Kenda did for over twenty years with an impressive success rate when it came to finding the perpetrator(s) and bringing them to justice. He first came to notoriety in the television series, Homicide Hunter, where his look-alike, Carl Marino, plays the younger version of Joe Kenda as they reenact case histories.

The former lieutenant, known for his "dead-pan zingers," has also written a novel about his life of fighting crime. What makes this a page-turner, beyond the voyeurism aspect of his tales, is the way he states the obvious with glib insight into the dark humor of a police officer.

Creative Commons, Wikimedia Commons
Creative Commons, Wikimedia Commons | Source

Lt. Kenda speaks about the trio of motives for murder being money, sex, and revenge or sometimes a combination of these. He quotes a Bible verse that many people seem to get wrong despite their frequent use of the phrase. He knows that it isn't money that's the root of all evil. Whether it's between family members, a romantic involvement or even a random act of violence between strangers, it's the love of money which factors into the downfall of relationships.

He also knows that, "Crazy comes in so many option packages." And crazy is clearly a motive in some of the cases he has solved.

For the love of money is the root of all evil."

— I Timothy 6:10

He talks about guns in a frank and open manner, about their history, their evolution and their necessity in crime prevention. Kenda says, “Law enforcement leaders learned their lesson after the 1965 Watts riots, when police officers quickly discovered that the people shooting at them had more firepower than the police." When someone is shooting an automatic rifle in your direction, you can’t easily respond wielding only a baton without serious consequences.

AK-47 Assault Weapon
AK-47 Assault Weapon | Source

We became a country by armed revolution." "Guns are a part of American culture."

— Lt. Joe Kenda

In the book, Kenda talks about cases that are too disturbing or graphic for television. Day after day, night after night he received calls that would take him into horrific crime scenes that flood memories with unforgettable details so gruesome it's hard to imagine. He speaks about being ripped from family events, anniversaries, date nights, football games, time with his children, even from mundane events like filling the gas tank of his vehicle, with calls that that couldn't wait when the report of another homicide came in. The life of homicide detective doesn't fit into an eight-to-five mold.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source

In one of the cases that took place during his time as a uniformed officer, he describes the scene of a street brawl involving multiple participants in which he was personally the target of a perpetrator with a gun hiding behind the body of a female he was using as a shield. Without waiting for backup, Kenda, who was a Sergeant at the time, charged into the mob trying to break up the disturbance.

When he fell to the pavement and was rendered unconscious, he was incredibly fortunate that someone in a nearby business called 911 reporting that an officer had been shot. Joe describes the scene with his normal dry humor by saying, "Nothing orders up a blue-light special more than the report of an officer down."

Alternate Weapons

Someone in the unruly mob was throwing hubcaps at people hurling them like a spinning metal weapon.
Someone in the unruly mob was throwing hubcaps at people hurling them like a spinning metal weapon. | Source

Profile of a Murderer

Detective Joe says, "The vast majority of murderers are male, except when they aren't." He firmly believes that most killers feel justified in murdering their victim. He speaks about the most vulnerable of victims - prostitutes - that "jump into cars with strangers like it's their job."

His description of one particularly evil torturer/killer will send chills down your spine. After six and a half hours of interrogation when the suspect finally broke through the "good guy" exterior and displayed the darkness of his soul, Joe's reaction was amazingly glib. Well all right, then, he thinks. Welcome to the party, Mr. Hyde. It's exactly why we love Joe Kenda. He's so matter of fact when it comes to criminal activity.

Although he does mention what he really wanted to do to this "deranged man-beast" across the interview room table. His moral outrage at the sinister deeds of this one particular guy restores our faith in humanity, justice and the American way. It's a good feeling to know that cops feel anger at the heinous deeds of criminals.

Forgiveness and Understanding

When it comes to murderers, who would guess that they have "a desire to be forgiven and understood?" This, the detective tells us leads many of them to confess their crimes, trying to justify their actions or rationalize their circumstances about how they were provoked.

Joe Kenda developed his own interrogation technique unique to him which appears to have worked in many cases. He allowed the detectives that reported to him to also develop their own preferred methods, each with their own manner of questioning to get through to the criminal and get the facts. He admits to early mistakes he made that blew his chances for gaining a confession and says he's not one to play "good cop, bad cop." He believes that being a good listener is key to confession.

"If you're going to be a liar, you should at least have the decency to be good at it."

— Lt. Joe Kenda

Lt. Kenda also talks about his family, his heritage, his parents, his children. One funny story he shares describes what happened when he tried to teach his children to stay away from the guns he had in his home. He talks about how children will tend to find whatever you hide so his idea was to frighten them against using guns by demonstrating their destructive nature and their blasting noise. Of course, this tactic backfired on him.

Fortunately, it turned into a weekend adventure where the whole family could share time together and ultimately become proficient in the proper use and handling of guns. Imagine the memes that could go along with that sort of training. The family that shoots together . . .

One poignant story Joe (May I call you Joe?) shares is told by his daughter who, as an adult, serves in a military role. She’s now an expert marks person. She told about an experience in the grocery store where she came to the aid of a fellow shopper against a lewd, obnoxious brute. I definitely would like to have her on my side if that ever happens to me.

In summary, the book I Will Find You, Solving Killer Cases from my Life Fighting Crime, despite it's graphic topic is an easy read that describes in detail the life of a public servant charged with investigating the onslaught of crime and senseless violence. The enduring hours, the gruesome nature of the work involved and the interruptive nature of the hours he put into his job serves to make me grateful for a job with standard hours.

It's amazing and impressive that with all the broken dates, shortchanged celebrations, bloody clothes, sleepless nights and heartbreaking drama that Joe Kenda and his wife and family survived the ordeal. It makes for a fascinating read and a renewed appreciation for our police force.

© 2018 Peg Cole


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    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Glad to find another ID show enthusiast, Patricia. I love Detective Kenda and his dry wit and humor in the face of the traumatic and ghastly scenes he has faced.

      Hoping you are well. I continue to hold you and your grandson in my prayers.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      3 weeks ago from sunny Florida

      I will have to check this out...I watch his show on ID every time it is on. That whole world fascinates me. Thanks for sharing this with us. Angels are on the way to you this evening. ps

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Pamela, I like to read a variety of books, too. Thanks so much for coming by to take a look at this review of Lt. Joe Kenda's book. He has quite a following in the mystery lovers genre on TV and in print. I've heard he's writing another book.

      It's good to see you today.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 months ago from Sunny Florida

      Peg, I don't watch many crime series on TV, but I read all kinds of books. I would be interested in what this man has to tell us. You did a suburb job in describing his life, tough times and successes.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks, Lawrence. Hope you find a copy and enjoy it.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      3 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      This book sounds fascinating.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Maria, Thanks so much for checking this review out. You know I love a good murder mystery! Hope you are healing and doing much better. Talk to you real soon. Love.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Flourish, Glad to know you like the true crime stuff. I do too. In fact, so much that we are planning to go on our first cruise, a celebrity cruise, featuring Lt. Joe Kenda and Carl Marino, the guy that plays him in the TV show. I'm so excited about it.There's your chance to meet him and have a long chat. Let me know if you want details or check out KendaCruise dot com!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      3 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Wonderful to see your creative juices inspired by this book - excellent review, dear Peg.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      3 months ago from USA

      This sounds exactly like a book I’d love to read just because it’s so realistic and no nonsense. I’d love to chat with that guy and listen to his war stories for hours.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Good Morning, William. Glad to know you're a murder mystery fan. Reading Joe Kenda's stories tells a fascinating tale about us as human beings. Thanks so much for stopping in.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      3 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Sounds like an interesting book, Peg, and right down my alley. I'll have to check it closer. Thanks for introducing it to us. I always liked Joe.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Ms. Dora, Thank you for that great response. Hope you enjoy reading these true stories and personal accounts of the detective.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Good job, Peg. You make me want to read the book. It would be great to read true, personal accounts of a read detective.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Brian, I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. The author has an interesting way of telling a tale that keeps the reader interested.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Jackie, I'm really interested in most of the crime TV shows despite their subject matter and graphic details. I like it when the bad guy gets caught. Joe Kenda has what it takes to filter through the crimes and find the culprit.

      Like you, I go through spells of the type of things I read. Thanks so much for coming by and for the great comment.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Linda Crampton, I can understand this sort of reading is difficult to take and not easily forgotten. There are things I can't read or watch that make me uncomfortable, too. I'm grateful that you stopped by to leave such an insightful comment and kind remarks. Thank you.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      3 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I've added that book to my to get and read list. I don't have a TV, so I haven't seen the TV show. I'll watch an episode when I get the chance.

    • moonlake profile image


      3 months ago from America

      Love Joe Kenda and can’t stay off ID channel. I have to get this book after your review. We were in California not far from Watts riots that was what made us decide we didn’t want to live there. We moved from California by 1966.

      Enjoyed your book review.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a great book review, Peg. I don't think that I could read the book because of its nature, but I certainly enjoyed reading about Lt. Joe Kendra and his writing in your article.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Mary, In the book the author describes the unforgettable scenes of chaos and mayhem that are forever etched into his memories. He suffers from nightmares inspired by what he's had to experience and investigate. I agree, they deserve much appreciation and gratitude. Thanks for the insightful comment.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      3 months ago from The Beautiful South

      I used to be hooked on true crime so bad in my younger days but have moved away from it in recent years. I still will have one smack me in the face now and then though and have to read it. This sounds like one of those.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Peggy, Yes, some parts of the book are rather graphic. It's not for the feint of heart. Murder is definitely not a pretty crime.

      I was also amazed at the sacrifices that people in law enforcement have to make to keep us safe. They aren't paid nearly enough.

      Thanks so much for coming by and for the kind remarks.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      My husband and I were talking about the lives of detectives last night and how risky it is. Also, seeing those murders and meeting the murderers must have its effect on them. They do deserve much of our appreciation and I'm glad someone wrote this book.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I am always amazed at the sacrifices our police do in order to help the majority of law abiding citizens. The review of this book by you certainly explains some of those sacrifices as to their daily lives. The book sounds graphic but good.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Mike, I'm glad you stopped by, too! Yep, you're right. I'm gathering the aura of those in the know to continue on my sequel to The Pub. I've been distracted for a while and need to get back into the swing of things. It's great to see you here and thanks for being so quick to come by and for the excellent comment.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Peg - So glad to have stopped by to read this review. You must be getting ready to start your next mystery and are gathering material and atmosphere. This review is excellent, you did indeed do the book justice.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Frank, Delighted to see you here on this book review. I love me some Joe Kenda. Fortunately, so does my hubby. We are avid fans and the book is a real page turner. Thanks for the cool comment. Justice. Got to love that.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      3 months ago from Shelton

      Pegcole this book review was thorough, it gave us a look into the author's mind, and you made it intriguing, you gave it justice...:)


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