Circle of Influence


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)


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.