Author: Annette Dashofy
My Copy: ARC courtesy of Henery Press
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: Zoe Chambers, paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township, has been privy to a number of local secrets over the years, some of them her own. But secrets become explosive when a dead body is found in the Township Board President’s abandoned car. As a January blizzard rages, Zoe and Police Chief Pete Adams launch a desperate search for the killer, even if it means uncovering secrets that could not only destroy Zoe and Pete, but also those closest to them.
I’ll be truthful, I read Annette Dashofy’s Circle of Influence back in March and this review sadly has been sitting unfinished. Recently Dashofy hit USA Today’s best sellers list and I wanted you to know about her Zoe Chambers series. Plus, I really enjoyed Circle of Influence.
We have good character development. Our main character is Zoe Chambers, an EMT who likes to ride horses. She’s tough and can easily hold her own in any situation. Zoe is also very loyal to her friends and she’s the type of person who will drop everything to be there in someone’s time of need. Then we have the ever so yummy head of police, Pete Adams! You’ll love him and understand his frustration at Zoe when she gets involved in investigating. There’s a potential romance set up between these two and if Dashofy goes that route, I won’t be disappointed! We have a few secondary characters that play a role including Rose Bassi and her children, Allison and Logan. Of course we have to have a bad guy and that’s Jerry McBirney and oh boy is he something!
Narrative is third person and I really liked how Dashofy set things up. It’s easy for us to imagine who did it and why, but sadly any preconceived ideas behind the whodoneit are thrown out the door more than once. Dashofy gives us a handful of characters, but it’s easy to keep track of who’s who and their role. I enjoyed the small town feel as well as the little details about what it’s like being an EMT. Also, I’ve never been to Pennsylvania, but Dashofy’s descriptions of the area made me feel as I had been.
As for the overall mystery, there are two factors at play. The first has to do with the death of Ted and the second factor is the town’s politics. Dashofy gives us an intimate glimpse at small town politics and she is pretty much spot on! With regards to the murder mystery, let’s just say I wasn’t surprised at who it turned out to be. I had my suspicions because he totally gave off the creep vibe and so when we get to the wonderful “aha” moment, I was relieved; not that I was right but that someone like him was caught. I also won’t go into detail regarding the reason Ted died because it would be spoiler, but oh the emotions you’ll feel upon the reason will make your heart break for Ted and his family. I wasn’t too thrilled with the initial set up (the reason why Ted had to die and the incident leading up to his death), but Dashofy reminds us that in the real world, things like what happened to Ted’s family do occur.
What I really liked about Dashofy’s Circle of Influence is the small town feel, but also it didn’t quite feel like it was taking place in a small town. You can easily picture your city and I also liked that it took place in winter! There are so many things that can happen in winter that might contaminate a crime scene: snow build up hides footprints, weather delays, etc. Circle of Influence was just a fresh of breath air and I really enjoyed it from start to finish.
Overall, Annette Dashofy’s Circle of Influence was an enjoyable debut. I can’t wait to read the second book in the series, Lost Legacy and see what wonderful tension simmers between Zoe and Pete.