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Circle of Influence

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Circle of Influence

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark Baker

    After an especially tension filled Township Board meeting, paramedic Zoe Chambers is called to an abandoned car with a dead body in the front seat. That discovery on a cold winter night plunges Zoe and Police Chief Pete Adams into a complex mystery that hits too close to home. Where will it end? I shouldn’t have put this debut off for so long. It’s an amazing book full of great writing. The characters are strong, and they pull us into the story quickly. There are so many twists and turns along th After an especially tension filled Township Board meeting, paramedic Zoe Chambers is called to an abandoned car with a dead body in the front seat. That discovery on a cold winter night plunges Zoe and Police Chief Pete Adams into a complex mystery that hits too close to home. Where will it end? I shouldn’t have put this debut off for so long. It’s an amazing book full of great writing. The characters are strong, and they pull us into the story quickly. There are so many twists and turns along the way, but everything makes perfect sense by the time we reach the end. Zoe and Pete share third person narrator duties, something the author uses perfectly to let us get to know the leads and build the tension in the story. Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    After her best friend's husband is found dead in a hated local politician's car Zoe somehow finds herself in the middle. Everything seems to centre on an old town computer which she has come into possession of and it's a race against time to uncover its secrets before the killer turns his attention to her. This book is really a cozy mystery –– well it is 80% of a cozy mystery. That remaining 20% honestly doesn't quite fit. There's a little bad language and some quite disturbing imagery. Nothing After her best friend's husband is found dead in a hated local politician's car Zoe somehow finds herself in the middle. Everything seems to centre on an old town computer which she has come into possession of and it's a race against time to uncover its secrets before the killer turns his attention to her. This book is really a cozy mystery –– well it is 80% of a cozy mystery. That remaining 20% honestly doesn't quite fit. There's a little bad language and some quite disturbing imagery. Nothing you wouldn't see in a Tess Gerritsen or Lisa Gardner book, but definitely not the usual fare for a cozy mystery. That said, it's pretty good and if you want a cozy mystery that's a little edgier, this is worth a look.

  3. 5 out of 5

    LORI CASWELL

    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. Dollycas 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. Dollycas’s Thoughts A great debut!!! This one grabbed me from the start. Zoe Chambers is such a multidimensional character. Her life has had many bumps in the road so far. Living in a small town she was able to keep a few secrets but after a dead body is found all her secrets come out and even land her on the suspect list. Her life intersects with basically the entire town and relationships are tested as the investigation continues and she learns she is not the only one with secrets. The supporting characters from Police Chief Pete Adams to Zoe’s friend Rose, along with Rose’s mother-in-law and teenage kids are all so strong and all play pivotal roles. The author has a very descriptive way of writing not only her characters, but also time and place. It was like watching a movie in my mind. I found the entire story very compelling and amazed myself at how quickly I read it. This book has all the elements of a cozy mystery but it has an edgier feel with some graphic detail but is does not reach the level of the suspense/thriller genre. I am excited to read Lost Legacy set to be released later this year. Dashofy has given us a wonderful start to what I hope is a very long series.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary Brown

    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 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. (Goodreads) Review: Zoe has her hands full being a paramedic and part time deputy coroner in Vance Township. With blizzards pounding the area and road conditions deplorable, she is extra busy helping those involved in accidents. But when she arrives on the scene of a possible accident, it is not her paramedic skills that are needed. Rather it is her coroner hat that she needs to wear because the body inside the car is dead. As if that’s not bad enough, it is the body of a good friend. Chief of Police Pete Adams is also at the scene of the murder. He cannot believe that the victim is dead and has a pretty good idea who committed the crime. But proving it will not be easy. Pete and Zoe team up to try to solve the murder but there are many obstacle to overcome. And when there is another attack on a citizen of Vance Township and some disappearances, they realize that there is a bigger problem than they ever realized. The characters are well rounded, well developed and three dimensional. I like both Zoe and Pete and enjoyed reading about them and learning more about them. Zoe presents to the outside world a person who is strong and fearless. She is not afraid to do whatever it takes to protect those she loves. But she has a vulnerable side and she is dealing with problems from her past. She has feelings for Pete but she is afraid to risk her friendship with him to explore a more meaningful relationship. They both have a lot of baggage from their pasts and Zoe is not so sure they can overcome all of it. Pete was married but his ex-wife cheated on him and he has not completely dealt with that fact. He knows Zoe has secrets that she has not shared with him and although he is attracted to her, he is afraid that she does not totally trust him. The case that they are working on will test their relationship to it’s limit. The supporting cast of characters are also well developed and they add many layers to the story. I think the characters and their interactions are my favorite part of the book and I could have kept reading about them. The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and I felt like I was right there watching all the action taking place around me. I could feel the snow and frigid temperatures, the anger at the town meeting and the smells of the stable that Zoe helps manage. To me that is a sign of a great author when all these images seem so real to me. The mystery is carried on throughout the story and there are many twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. The suspense continued to build with each chapter that I read. Between the twists and turns and the large suspect list, I found it impossible to determine the murderer. That is always a good thing, in my opinion. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery. This is the third book that I have read by this author, although this is the first book in the series. I have loved them all and I cannot wait for book four to be released. Do yourself a favor and pick up the entire Zoe Chambers Mystery series and enjoy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marleen

    I was hoping this story was going to take off at a certain point and become more interesting, but that never happened. Indeed, there’s only the very stagnant and repetitive narrative of the facts that take place in the beginning; the murder of a beloved community member, fire-fighter Ted Bassi; cherished husband and father. Everyone’s in the community suspects the heartless and autocratic Township Board President and supervisor McBirney, but when he’s also found stabbed, the mystery intensifies. I was hoping this story was going to take off at a certain point and become more interesting, but that never happened. Indeed, there’s only the very stagnant and repetitive narrative of the facts that take place in the beginning; the murder of a beloved community member, fire-fighter Ted Bassi; cherished husband and father. Everyone’s in the community suspects the heartless and autocratic Township Board President and supervisor McBirney, but when he’s also found stabbed, the mystery intensifies. This story could be told in a more efficient way, but as I said, the narrative is very repetitive, bordering on tedious. The main characters, Zoe Chambers, paramedic and horse-carer; and Pete Adams, the town’s police chief are mildly likable characters, but not very efficient at their job. The other characters also had a cardboard feel to them, I’m sorry to say. And how can an entire community not stand up against the incompetent and dictatorial people in power? There's an unreal feel to the entire given. A few were in power and they seemed to do what they wanted. No arrests were ever made by the chief of police. It all felt very amateurish to me. I surely hope the next stories in the series are better constructed and have more depth. Fingers crossed. Barely a 1,5 star rating for this one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chaitra

    That’s a harsh rating, I’ll admit that. As a borderline cozy that tackled some issues that cozies don’t tackle, it had some merit. But the way the issues were tackled felt odd, Zoe’s reactions felt off. More importantly, the narrator got on my nerves and it felt neverending. I might have endured, maybe even tolerated it had I been reading the physical book. But then again, it is true that it took eons from where the climactic action started to where it ended. Zoe did everything that was stupid j That’s a harsh rating, I’ll admit that. As a borderline cozy that tackled some issues that cozies don’t tackle, it had some merit. But the way the issues were tackled felt odd, Zoe’s reactions felt off. More importantly, the narrator got on my nerves and it felt neverending. I might have endured, maybe even tolerated it had I been reading the physical book. But then again, it is true that it took eons from where the climactic action started to where it ended. Zoe did everything that was stupid just so there was some excitement, but it dragged on for so long that there wasn’t any point either. Eh. Also, for heavens sake why couldn’t they just copy the contents of the damned hard drive into another computer? Piece of cake and no one had to go around looking and acting shady.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sabine

    I have been listening to the audio version of this book and love the mystery and the narration of it. This is a fantastic series that has made it very quick to one of my all-time favourites.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

    Circle of Influence I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It has just enough sensory details to place yourself in the scene without being a 19th Century novel. It is emotionally riveting, replete with intrigue, and punctuated with engaging words. It is an inter-generational family saga as well as a mystery. Family matters, but so does small town politics. If you enjoy books with twisted and intertwined relationships, you will not be disappointed with this read. If you live in the snow belt, you will fee Circle of Influence I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It has just enough sensory details to place yourself in the scene without being a 19th Century novel. It is emotionally riveting, replete with intrigue, and punctuated with engaging words. It is an inter-generational family saga as well as a mystery. Family matters, but so does small town politics. If you enjoy books with twisted and intertwined relationships, you will not be disappointed with this read. If you live in the snow belt, you will feel at home. If you live in the sunbelt, you will spend an enjoyable romp in a winter, I wonder, land. You will not find gore here, but will experience some of the wit, tension, and vividness of an EMT and lover of horses. I can smell the hay and shiver with both fear and frost. Read this book and find something to do while you wait for book two of the Zoe series. She will be presenting at the 2014 Pennwriters Conference this May in Lancaster, Pa.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mburrows

    A good cozy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Freas

    Up front, I will admit Annette is a friend, and I’m thrilled beyond measure that she is now has a published novel. This book had two things I require in a story. I liked and cared about the characters and the plot was engaging with several twists – some expected, some not. Expected twists often give too much away and the reader knows where the author is going with it. Here they still maintained that ‘where is this going to lead’ question. Not many authors can do that. I suspected the guilty party Up front, I will admit Annette is a friend, and I’m thrilled beyond measure that she is now has a published novel. This book had two things I require in a story. I liked and cared about the characters and the plot was engaging with several twists – some expected, some not. Expected twists often give too much away and the reader knows where the author is going with it. Here they still maintained that ‘where is this going to lead’ question. Not many authors can do that. I suspected the guilty party early on but Annette kept me guessing right up to the reveal. My only gripe – and it’s a minor one – is that I would have liked to have read how Zoe Chambers, the main character, escaped the bad guy instead of her revealing how after the fact to another character. I see Annette has another book in the series coming out soon and will definitely be back for more of Zoe’s adventures.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kaye

    Zoe Chambers paramedic and deputy coroner in the tight-knit rural Vance Township in Pennsylvania, has been privy to many secrets over the years, some of them her own. Secrets explode when a dead body is found in the abandoned car of the Township Board President. While a blizzard ranges Zoe and Police Chief Pete Adams launch the investigation to find the killer, uncovering secrets that could destroy them all. I loved this debut mystery by Annette Dashofy. Zoe was realistic and her friends (and not Zoe Chambers paramedic and deputy coroner in the tight-knit rural Vance Township in Pennsylvania, has been privy to many secrets over the years, some of them her own. Secrets explode when a dead body is found in the abandoned car of the Township Board President. While a blizzard ranges Zoe and Police Chief Pete Adams launch the investigation to find the killer, uncovering secrets that could destroy them all. I loved this debut mystery by Annette Dashofy. Zoe was realistic and her friends (and not so much friends) jumped off the pages. I'm planning on reading the second book in this series when it comes out.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Vance Township, Pennsylvania is small town America. Everyone knows everything about everybody or at least they think they do. So when the first body shows up no one can come up with a good motive other than the the well liked family man is dead. The second body is a little easier to come up with a motive...everyone hated him so there were lots of suspects. It's not a cozy but it's not your everyday murder mystery either. It's just a good who-done-it that will keep you guessing to the very last w Vance Township, Pennsylvania is small town America. Everyone knows everything about everybody or at least they think they do. So when the first body shows up no one can come up with a good motive other than the the well liked family man is dead. The second body is a little easier to come up with a motive...everyone hated him so there were lots of suspects. It's not a cozy but it's not your everyday murder mystery either. It's just a good who-done-it that will keep you guessing to the very last word.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Hall

    I received this book as an early read via NetGalley. I really enjoyed this book! It was a quick read, but kept my interest until the very end and I look forward to reading more about these characters and their future troubles. Each character felt real and 3-dimensional, and the author created just enough background on each to make them seem integral to the plot.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Heather Bennett

    Zoe is a paramedic in a small town and knows a lot of secrets. A dead body is found in the Town President's car and Police Chief Adams wants to find the killer at all costs. This was a very good mystery that will keep you turning the page. The characters felt real. I hope to read more by this author. Zoe is a paramedic in a small town and knows a lot of secrets. A dead body is found in the Town President's car and Police Chief Adams wants to find the killer at all costs. This was a very good mystery that will keep you turning the page. The characters felt real. I hope to read more by this author.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Susan Gottfried

    Okay, right off the top, let me say this: I've known Annette for probably 20 years now. I adore Annette. This book is everything that's good about Annette. (Okay, not everything because she once brought this vegetable dish to a potluck and that's not in the book, but that wasn't good. It was fantastic.) Nuanced characters. A layered plot. She may have the reticent teen with the pink hair that's a bit old by this point, but she does NOT take the easy way out for her characters. No cliches here for Okay, right off the top, let me say this: I've known Annette for probably 20 years now. I adore Annette. This book is everything that's good about Annette. (Okay, not everything because she once brought this vegetable dish to a potluck and that's not in the book, but that wasn't good. It was fantastic.) Nuanced characters. A layered plot. She may have the reticent teen with the pink hair that's a bit old by this point, but she does NOT take the easy way out for her characters. No cliches here for the sake of expedience. This is one of those debuts that deserves all the awards, all the readers. I don't say that as her friend. I say that as someone who reads a LOT and who is an editor who pushes her own clients to produce this level of work. I'd rather wait two years for the next book in a series if it's this layered and nuanced and fresh than to have something that's pounded out with all the usual cliches and all the beats lining up perfectly. BUT there's one thing that hurts this book, and it's not Annette's fault. In fact, it makes me so freaking angry that I want to hurt people. The copy editing in this book is absolute trash. You use a loupe when you want to magnify something. And I don't even remember which way was wrong with horde/hoard, but hoo boy, that introduced unintended meanings. And the past tense of To Sink... Wrong every time. Not to mention the comma problems, the em-dashes that aren't closed, the typos... This publisher is a small press. I understand they have either gone through a rough patch or have closed shop entirely, and I gotta say... their instincts for a good book are, based on this book, spot-on. Better than a lot of the big publishing houses, even, if they published this story and the majors passed on it. BUT even small presses owe it to themselves and to their authors and to their readers to hire competent people. I'm angry because they made my friend look bad. Because I could hear Annette reading this out loud as I read. Because I want to praise this and recommend it without reservation, but instead, I've got to tell people to read it but ignore the grammar errors and don't judge Annette for them... Seriously. This is one author doing really really hard work. The publisher needs to work every bit as hard on the product they present to the world.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amber Foxx

    I’m not sure if this is a cozy mystery or not. It’s free of cuteness. It deals with serious issues such as drug use and intimate partner violence in a way I don’t think of as cozy. (This is a compliment.) But there is the cozy convention of an attraction between the amateur sleuth and a law enforcement professional, the violence is offstage, and the story takes place in a small town. Dashofy makes effective use the setting with its blinding snowstorms and icy country roads. The interconnectedness I’m not sure if this is a cozy mystery or not. It’s free of cuteness. It deals with serious issues such as drug use and intimate partner violence in a way I don’t think of as cozy. (This is a compliment.) But there is the cozy convention of an attraction between the amateur sleuth and a law enforcement professional, the violence is offstage, and the story takes place in a small town. Dashofy makes effective use the setting with its blinding snowstorms and icy country roads. The interconnectedness of small town life comes across as nurturing, reassuring, gossipy, toxic, claustrophobic, and dangerous all at the same time. The workings of local politics and the influence of a couple of corrupt men are portrayed masterfully. Her Vance Township, PA reminded me more of Stephen King’s Maine towns than the quaint villages of the classic cozy. (This is a compliment.) I had no desire to live there for a minute. But I do want to read the next book in the series. Zoe Chambers is a realistic and believable amateur sleuth. As a paramedic and deputy coroner, she has the emotional and professional skills to cope with encounters with death and injury. She’s accustomed to an unfortunate fact of her work in a small town—she’s likely to know the person for whom the ambulance was called, close friend or long-term enemy. I liked her courage, competence, and compassion, and understood her mistakes. A strong protagonist and a compelling story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Schorr

    What a great mystery! Zoe Chambers is someone I'd be friends with - she's spunky, resourceful, has a great heart, and the medical skills to save my life. I loved that as tough as she was, she was also vulnerable. I enjoy my mystery with a side of romance and Annette totally delivered. I loved the slow burn of this one so much that I can't wait to read the second book in the series to see how it develops. This book was filled with villains to hate and townspeople to root for. Loved it. What a great mystery! Zoe Chambers is someone I'd be friends with - she's spunky, resourceful, has a great heart, and the medical skills to save my life. I loved that as tough as she was, she was also vulnerable. I enjoy my mystery with a side of romance and Annette totally delivered. I loved the slow burn of this one so much that I can't wait to read the second book in the series to see how it develops. This book was filled with villains to hate and townspeople to root for. Loved it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review)

    An excellent start to a series! 5 stars (and counting), small town politics turns into small town murder and mayhem with Zoe Chambers and Police Chief Pete Adams trying to figure out who would want to kill Ted and leave his body in someone elses car.  Secrets are going to come out and emotions will run high before Pete and Zoe track down the killer.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Zoe Chambers, paramedic and deputy coroner and Police Chief Pete Adams investigate the death of a body found in the abandoned car of the unpopular Jerry McBirney, the Township Board President. An enjoyable well-written mystery and I look forward to reading the next in the series

  20. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    If I could give this more than 5 stars I would. Really. Such a great book, great characters and the story line.... WOW.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Col

    Synopsis/blurb....... 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 clo Synopsis/blurb....... 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. Books in the Zoe Chambers Mystery Series: CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE #1 LOST LEGACY #2 (on sale Fall 2014) Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all… 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). Advance Praise “The texture of small town Pennsylvania comes alive in Annette Dashofy's debut mystery. Discerning mystery readers will appreciate Dashofy's expert details and gripping storytelling. Zoe Chambers is an authentic character who will entertain us for a long time.” – Nancy Martin, Author of the Blackbird Sister Mysteries -------------------------------- My take...... This is my 7th read of the year and despite a 2014 resolution to increase the number of books I read that have been written by female authors, this is the first of the year to date. (I’ll have to sneak another in soon to keep on course for the 20-25% I’m aiming for.) We have another debut book and another small town mystery, this time set in Pennsylvania. Our main lead is Zoe Chambers - a single lady. She’s a paramedic, often works nights, loves horses and is a good friend to many in her small town. We have Pete Adams, the head of the local police, a friend and sometime poker playing partner of Zoe. They could be more than friends though nothing has happened just yet. Into the mix strides pantomime villain Jerry McBirney. McBirney is chairman of the township’s resident’s committee. He has some authority over the town’s finances and police department and he’s thick-skinned and hard-headed enough to implement and push through changes that may be beneficial to Jerry McBirney and less so to the folks of Vance Township. Jerry forces Pete to arrest his secretary, Sylvia over the misappropriation of an old council-owned computer, much to the ire of the town’s residents and Ted Bassi, Sylvia’s son. Later that night, Bassi is discovered dead in McBirney’s car. McBirney is an immediate suspect in the enquiry, which Pete undertakes. Pete’s position though is somewhat compromised by the fact that Marcy, his ex-wife is none other than the current Mrs McBirney. We now have another police force and detective involved – Wayne Baronick of the Monongahela County Police Department, much to Adams chagrin. Our growing cast of characters further expands as we are introduced to Ted Bassi’s family - his children - Allison and Logan and his wife Rose. Logan, his son convinces Zoe that his dad’s death must be connected to McBirney’s obsession with the computer. Logan steals the hard drive from the PC and Zoe, with a previous unpleasant history with McBirney, against her better judgement agrees to help him try and prove Jerry’s involvement in the murder. Secrets, small town gossip, snow blizzards, town politics and old flames all collide with further crimes committed before the climax in this busy little book. Circle of Influence was an entertaining read, populated by interesting characters in an intriguing small-town setting. I wasn’t totally blown away by this one, but was sufficiently engaged to consider trying the next book in the series when it comes out later this year. A little bit softer and cosier than my usual crime fiction fare, but nothing wrong with that. 4 from 5 I assessed this one via Net Galley I’ll be crossing off Pennsylvania on my 2014 USA State Reading Challenge now.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    This was actually an audio book that I listened to but for some reason it doesn't show up on my list when I list it that way. I enjoyed this audio book. Since Pittsburgh was my hometown I was curious about this series, it was fun hearing places and names I recognize. I love the character of Zoe, she is strong and likable. This story took me by surprise with who was murder and kept me guessing throughout. Just when I thought I knew who it was the story would take another twist, there were a few t This was actually an audio book that I listened to but for some reason it doesn't show up on my list when I list it that way. I enjoyed this audio book. Since Pittsburgh was my hometown I was curious about this series, it was fun hearing places and names I recognize. I love the character of Zoe, she is strong and likable. This story took me by surprise with who was murder and kept me guessing throughout. Just when I thought I knew who it was the story would take another twist, there were a few things that I did not see coming. I do have to admit I think that I might have liked it a little more just because I had a different voice in my head for a couple of the characters but don't let that stop you, it was still very entertaining to listen to. This was great to listen to on a long car trip, it made the time go much quicker. I will continue on with this series. There is some strong language in this book, not a lot but just a warning that there is a little.

  23. 4 out of 5

    M.E. Browning

    Circle of Influence, by Annette Dashofy, is a traditional mystery-- not a cozy as I’d originally assumed. The story tackles topics with grit and Zoe Chambers, the heroine of the series, has moxie and heart. I thoroughly enjoyed this twisty tale set in a rural jurisdiction in Pennsylvania and look forward to Zoe’s next adventure!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mary Brown

    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 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. (Goodreads) Review: Zoe has her hands full being a paramedic and part time deputy coroner in Vance Township. With blizzards pounding the area and road conditions deplorable, she is extra busy helping those involved in accidents. But when she arrives on the scene of a possible accident, it is not her paramedic skills that are needed. Rather it is her coroner hat that she needs to wear because the body inside the car is dead. As if that’s not bad enough, it is the body of a good friend. Chief of Police Pete Adams is also at the scene of the murder. He cannot believe that the victim is dead and has a pretty good idea who committed the crime. But proving it will not be easy. Pete and Zoe team up to try to solve the murder but there are many obstacle to overcome. And when there is another attack on a citizen of Vance Township and some disappearances, they realize that there is a bigger problem than they ever realized. The characters are well rounded, well developed and three dimensional. I like both Zoe and Pete and enjoyed reading about them and learning more about them. Zoe presents to the outside world a person who is strong and fearless. She is not afraid to do whatever it takes to protect those she loves. But she has a vulnerable side and she is dealing with problems from her past. She has feelings for Pete but she is afraid to risk her friendship with him to explore a more meaningful relationship. They both have a lot of baggage from their pasts and Zoe is not so sure they can overcome all of it. Pete was married but his ex-wife cheated on him and he has not completely dealt with that fact. He knows Zoe has secrets that she has not shared with him and although he is attracted to her, he is afraid that she does not totally trust him. The case that they are working on will test their relationship to it’s limit. The supporting cast of characters are also well developed and they add many layers to the story. I think the characters and their interactions are my favorite part of the book and I could have kept reading about them. The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and I felt like I was right there watching all the action taking place around me. I could feel the snow and frigid temperatures, the anger at the town meeting and the smells of the stable that Zoe helps manage. To me that is a sign of a great author when all these images seem so real to me. The mystery is carried on throughout the story and there are many twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. The suspense continued to build with each chapter that I read. Between the twists and turns and the large suspect list, I found it impossible to determine the murderer. That is always a good thing, in my opinion. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery. This is the third book that I have read by this author, although this is the first book in the series. I have loved them all and I cannot wait for book four to be released. Do yourself a favor and pick up the entire Zoe Chambers Mystery series and enjoy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    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 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. This reiview and more are posted at Literary, etc.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    A complex plot with strong emotional undercurrents, this is not a cozy mystery but it IS a very good story. Zoe Chambers is an EMS paramedic & deputy coroner in Vance Township PA. Her traumatic past continues to plague her present. Being a first responder puts Zoe on the scene when her friend Tom's body is found in an abandoned car. Helping her BFF Rose and Rose's teenage children Logan & Allison deal with the loss of their husband and father is further strained with county matters. I had read book A complex plot with strong emotional undercurrents, this is not a cozy mystery but it IS a very good story. Zoe Chambers is an EMS paramedic & deputy coroner in Vance Township PA. Her traumatic past continues to plague her present. Being a first responder puts Zoe on the scene when her friend Tom's body is found in an abandoned car. Helping her BFF Rose and Rose's teenage children Logan & Allison deal with the loss of their husband and father is further strained with county matters. I had read book 4 last year and knew about some of the characters in advance of reading this but am glad I was able to read book one. It filled in the background of Zoe's experiences that led to her present life in book 4. Looking forward to book 5 in March 2017.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda

    My Review:CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE by Annette Dashofy 4 STARS I like Zoe Chambers. This had pretty good suspense. I guessed right on small parts and missed the big pictures by far. Boy was there plenty of drama. Plenty of suspects. Clean read. Plenty of secrets. Zoe Chambers is a paramedic in a small township. She rents have a house and takes care of the barn so she can keep her horse. Zoe was a party girl in high school and that still impacts her life today. A old boyfriend of hers married her best fri My Review:CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE by Annette Dashofy 4 STARS I like Zoe Chambers. This had pretty good suspense. I guessed right on small parts and missed the big pictures by far. Boy was there plenty of drama. Plenty of suspects. Clean read. Plenty of secrets. Zoe Chambers is a paramedic in a small township. She rents have a house and takes care of the barn so she can keep her horse. Zoe was a party girl in high school and that still impacts her life today. A old boyfriend of hers married her best friend. Now he is murdered. She does not believe some of the rumors she is hearing about him. His wife is still her good friend. She is also close to his two teenagers. Because it is a small township the county is taken over the murder case. The local Police Chief Pete does not like that. Pete likes to flirt with Zoe. His secretary has been arrested for stealing a computer. It being a small town a lot of things cross with one another. I like Pete and Zoe and want them to start dating. They are keeping secrets from each other. The setting is Monongahela County, Pennsylvania. Lots of farm land. I did not want to put the book down until I had finished reading it. I want to read the next book in the series Lost Legacy and see how everyone is and what happens next for the town. I was given this ebook to read and in exchange asked to give a honest review of it by Netgalley and Henery Press. publication: March 25th 2014 by Henery Press 294 pages ISBN 9781940976006

  28. 5 out of 5

    Randee Baty

    Henery Press is certainly on a roll with interesting, smart, readable mysteries. Circle of Influence continues that roll. It's not a cozy, it's a straight mystery. It goes somewhere I didn't really need it to go. But that only slightly lessened my enjoyment. Overall, this is a very good read with a good plot and likeable characters. The main characters are Zoe, an EMT and Pete, the police chief. After a very contentious city counsel meeting which ended with a shouting match between Jerry McBirney Henery Press is certainly on a roll with interesting, smart, readable mysteries. Circle of Influence continues that roll. It's not a cozy, it's a straight mystery. It goes somewhere I didn't really need it to go. But that only slightly lessened my enjoyment. Overall, this is a very good read with a good plot and likeable characters. The main characters are Zoe, an EMT and Pete, the police chief. After a very contentious city counsel meeting which ended with a shouting match between Jerry McBirney, Chairman of the town supervisors, and pretty much everyone else. Ted Bassi is particularly upset because McBirney has Ted's mother fired as police secretary. Later in the evening when Ted is found dead in McBirney's car, everyone from Ted's wife Rose to Zoe herself are considered suspects. The small town setting of this book ensures that there are a lot of overlapping relationships and deep dark secrets. Zoe does keep information from the Pete that she should have turned over immediately and I don't care for that but she doesn't do it out of contempt for the police. She has all the respect in the world for Pete and a growing romantic interest but she feels the need to protect another character. The atmosphere is winter in Pennsylvania and Dashofy does a great job writing atmosphere that you can feel. Another plus for me is that there is no sign of a triangle! If you don't mind your mysteries a little grittier than cozy, this is a good one. Provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

    4 STARS I like Zoe Chambers. This had pretty good suspense. I guessed right on small parts and missed the big pictures by far. Boy was there plenty of drama. Plenty of suspects. Clean read. Plenty of secrets. Zoe Chambers is a paramedic in a small township. She rents have a house and takes care of the barn so she can keep her horse. Zoe was a party girl in high school and that still impacts her life today. A old boyfriend of hers married her best friend. Now he is murdered. She does not believ 4 STARS I like Zoe Chambers. This had pretty good suspense. I guessed right on small parts and missed the big pictures by far. Boy was there plenty of drama. Plenty of suspects. Clean read. Plenty of secrets. Zoe Chambers is a paramedic in a small township. She rents have a house and takes care of the barn so she can keep her horse. Zoe was a party girl in high school and that still impacts her life today. A old boyfriend of hers married her best friend. Now he is murdered. She does not believe some of the rumors she is hearing about him. His wife is still her good friend. She is also close to his two teenagers. Because it is a small township the county is taken over the murder case. The local Police Chief Pete does not like that. Pete likes to flirt with Zoe. His secretary has been arrested for stealing a computer. It being a small town a lot of things cross with one another. I like Pete and Zoe and want them to start dating. They are keeping secrets from each other. The setting is Monongahela County, Pennsylvania. Lots of farm land. I did not want to put the book down until I had finished reading it. I want to read the next book in the series Lost Legacy and see how everyone is and what happens next for the town. I was given this ebook to read and in exchange asked to give a honest review of it by Netgalley and Henery Press. publication: March 25th 2014 by Henery Press 294 pages ISBN 9781940976006

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maxine

    Zoe Chambers is a paramedic in the small town rural Pennsylvania community she grew up in. It’s a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone else and Zoe is privy to all their secrets. At a particularly nasty Township Board meeting, Joe McBirney arrogant president of the Board, demands that Sylvia the Board secretary be arrested for the theft of an old, no longer used computer. Despite the protests of attendees to the meeting, especially Ted Bassi, Sylvia’s son, the sheriff, Pete Adams, Zoe Chambers is a paramedic in the small town rural Pennsylvania community she grew up in. It’s a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone else and Zoe is privy to all their secrets. At a particularly nasty Township Board meeting, Joe McBirney arrogant president of the Board, demands that Sylvia the Board secretary be arrested for the theft of an old, no longer used computer. Despite the protests of attendees to the meeting, especially Ted Bassi, Sylvia’s son, the sheriff, Pete Adams, is forced to take her into custody. Zoe is sure that this has to be a mistake but, later that night, Ted is found dead in McBirney’s car. A detective from another police force takes over the case but, as the bodies pile up and a teenager goes missing, Pete is brought back into the case and he solicits Zoe’s aid in the investigation. Circle of Influence is the first in a series by author Annette Dashovy and it’s small town Americana mystery at its busiest, full of secrets, lies, and betrayals. Although it has many of the attributes of a cozy, this is definitely not crumpets and tea with little old ladies cozy. There’s enough action, suspense and twists and turns to keep the reader guessing right to the end. Throw in small town politics and a raging blizzard and it makes for a very engrossing and enjoyable read.

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