Publication Date:March 19th 2014 by Henery Press
Summary: Zoe Chambers was at the town council meeting on a snowy night because her EMS partner Earl enjoyed witnessing town politics. The crowded space, filled to capacity with town residents, was in an uproar. The chairman, Jerry McBirney, was making various demands like an angry despot and his cronies supported him. But when McBirney demanded that grandmotherly Sylvia Bassi be arrested for the theft of an old computer, the townspeople were appalled. Zoe’s friend, police chief Pete Adams, stepped in to try to settle the issue. Sylvia was the the police department’s secretary.
Sylvia’s son, Ted, her daughter-in-law, Rose and her teenaged grandchildren Logan and Allison, all witnessed McBirney’s tirade against Mrs. Bassi. Zoe did what she could for Sylvia, too, as Rose was her best friend. Pete wondered why McBirney was in such an uproar over a computer that had been abandoned for a long time.
Shortly after this incident, Ted Bassi was found murdered in Jerry McBirney’s car. Initial evidence pointed to McBirney as the killer, but as Pete and Zoe dug deeper, the conclusions became murkier. Another body is soon found and another member of the Bassi family disappears. Someone is determined to see that Zoe doesn’t discover the truth.
Comments: I discovered Circle of Influence on a list of finalists for the Agatha Award for First Novel. When I started reading it, I expected a high-end cozy–in part because of the cover art. I was pleasantly surprised that there was much more to it. Although some of the characters were too predictable, not all were, and the book was well plotted. I look forward to reading more in the Zoe Chambers series.
Recommended for general mystery readers.