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"Romy Nordlinger narrates this tangled whodunit with an energetic blend of humor and bewilderment." ---AudioFile
About the Author
Annette Dashofy, a Pennsylvania farm gal born and bred, grew up with horses, cattle, and, yes, chickens. After high school, she spent five years as an EMT for the local ambulance service. Since then, she’s worked a variety of jobs, giving her plenty of fodder for her lifelong passion for writing. She, her husband, and their two spoiled cats live on property that was once part of her grandfather’s dairy. Her short fiction, including a 2007 Derringer nominee, has appeared in Spinetingler, Mysterical-e, and Fish Tales: the Guppy Anthology. Her newest short story will appear in the Lucky Charms Anthology (December 2013).
CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE begins at a crowded meeting of the township supervisors in a small western Pennsylvania town. It’s immediately clear that everybody hates Chairman Jerry McBirney. He takes illegal perks, bends the three-man board to his bidding, and abruptly insists that the long time police secretary be arrested for stealing a computer. Never mind that she “borrowed” the old computer, which hadn’t been used in years and had been replaced by newer equipment.
When McBirney’s car is later found abandoned, Police Chief Pete Adams fears that someone took their hatred a little too far. But it is not McBirney’s body that is found in the vehicle. It is that of Ted Bassi, son of the police secretary. McBirney goes from potential victim to potential murderer.
Zoe Chambers, emergency technician, finds herself in the middle of the murder investigation. Since Vance Township is a small town, everyone knows everybody and everyone knows a lot about everybody, or they think they know a lot about everybody. Their lives are intertwined like the threads of soap opera. Zoe has romantic feelings for the police chief. The police chief’s ex-wife is married to Jerry McBirney. Ted Bassi’s wife and two children are good friends of Zoe’s. Zoe had also had several run-ins with McBirney.
All of these interconnections of the characters – the “circle of influence” -- make perfect sense. Nothing seems forced. The characters are well drawn and act just as the reader expects, yet there are still enough surprises to keep you off balance.
The investigation goes in several directions as another murder is committed. There are conflicts everywhere. The County police want to take over the investigation. The victims two teen-aged children are struggling to face his death. Zoe’s probing leads her to butt heads with Ted’s widow. The police secretary ends up slugging McBirney, in a judge's chambers!
This is a terrific mystery novel. Zoe and Pete seem to be conducting separate investigations, but their searches lead them to the same conclusion. The climax is riveting and well played out, with a few surprises packed into the tense ending.
Wow! There is no letting up on action is this great little cozy. Bodies pile up as do suspects. This is a wonderfully crafted who-done-it. The writing is fresh. The main character, Zoe, is tenacious. The interpersonal interactions among the key players in this story are thoughtfully done. The author makes them likable, vulnerable and real people. I cannot recommend this book enough. Get it. Read it. Enjoy it. It's a winner.
hi, I just finished this book and it was a good read. I will read the next book in the series for a while I was on the fence but that last third of the book swayed my opinion. I thought the characters were flushed out well and it was a good mystery. There were a few things that detracted me in this book.I thought the middle section dragged a little big with some repetitive actions by Zoe and the sheriff, would have been nice if they would have joined forces earlier to cut down on that repetitive actions. I guess that was main beef that book dragged in the middle section a little like she was killing time to get to the end part of the story. I thought the last third was very well done. . I f somebody writes they knew why the bad person did what the did beforehand they are a lieing lol. I did guess who one of the bad guys was and there were some good clues-but that exact reason was kept secret good but it did make sense. I thought the book had a good twist at the end and I look forward to the next one.
I should never have started reading this book on a Saturday morning because once started, I couldn't put it down! I guess the long list of chores on my to-do list will just have to wait until another day. If I don't start reading book #2 in this series and if it's as good as this book, that is. Dashofy is my kind of writer. She doesn't waste a lot of time giving you long paragraphs describing the exact red of a barn or the details of the clothes people have on. Oh, no. She gives you just enough detail to paint a picture; and then she gets on with it and tells a tale filled with interesting characters and astute dialogue. This is definitely a page turner. BTW, nor did she hesitate to give one of the truly dispicable characters his just desserts. You have to love an author who doesn't hesitate to kill of a villain who definitely needs to be dispensed with. This is a very good book in every way. I am beyond thrilled to have discovered this author and in alt that she has written 5 books in this series so I can keep on reading!!!
Circle of Influence, the first book in Annette Dashofy’s Zoe Chambers mystery series, is a terrific read for lovers of traditional mysteries. Set in rural Pennsylvania, where Dashofy has spent her whole life, the authenticity of the setting and characters draws in readers and makes us care about Zoe, her friends, her love interest, and what will happen next in their tightly-knit community. Dashofy spent five years as an EMT on a local ambulance service, an experience she uses to excellent advantage by making her heroine an EMT. Zoe, who is often first on the scene to find a murder or accident victim, never knows when the ambulance rolls whether the wounded or dead will be someone she loves or hates. I suspect the author’s background also has given her tremendous insight into small town politics, another crucial element of her intricate plot. In Circle of Influence, both Zoe and Pete, the fire chief hero, must come to terms with their pasts as they try to determine lies from truths and friends from foes. Can’t wait to read more books in this series.