A relaxing trail ride turns tragic when Paramedic and Deputy Coroner Zoe Chambers discovers the body of a popular county commissioner in her Pennsylvania woods. Inconsistencies surround the horrible accident, but before she can investigate further, she’s pried away by a plea for help from her best friend whose son has been deemed a person of interest in a homicide over a thousand miles away. When he vanishes without a trace, his mother begs Zoe to help clear him and bring him safely home. The task takes Zoe out of her comfort zone in a frantic trip to the desolate canyons and bluffs of New Mexico where she joins forces with the missing boy’s sister and a mysterious young Navajo.
Back at home, Vance Township’s Chief of Police Pete Adams must deal not only with the commissioner’s homicide, but with an influx of meth and a subsequent rash of drug overdoses in his rural community. Bodies keep turning up while suspects keep disappearing. However little else matters when he learns that half a continent away, a brutal killer has Zoe in his sights.
I Had to Use It
A few years back, I became best friends with a gal I “met” on Facebook. Leta and I bonded over our mutual love of westerns and cowboys. She lives in New Mexico, I in Pennsylvania. The farthest west I’d ever been was eastern Indiana. Seeing the West had been a lifelong dream.
In June of 2013, the dream came true. My husband and I flew to Colorado and began an adventurous road trip that carried us from Colorado Springs to Durango to Aztec, New Mexico, Silver City, and eventually El Paso, Texas to catch a plane home. The trip took ten days.
The following year, I returned without my husband and without the road trip. This time, and two other subsequent visits, I stayed with Leta in Aztec and limited my exploration to the area around the Four Corners.
Leta’s son has also become a good friend, and a valuable resource. Kevin’s a deputy sheriff with the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and willingly answers all the procedural questions I’ve thrown at him.
On that second trip to Aztec, Kevin took me out into some of the most desolate areas I’ve ever seen. I was thankful to be accompanied by a law enforcement officer in his monster truck out there. Had I been alone, I’d have been terrified. And very lost.
I took pages and pages of notes that day, jotting down the experiences he shared, the words and turn of a phrase that cops use. He stopped at one point, and we climbed down. I followed him out onto a ledge overlooking a spectacular view of a canyon. Miles below, something moved in the brush…a coyote. Kevin pointed down and told me they’d found dead bodies tossed down there. I leaned over to look. He laughed. “You’re scared of heights.” It wasn’t a question. He pointed out how my body language had changed completely the moment I stepped onto that ledge.
On another trip to Aztec, Kevin gave me a tour of the Sheriff’s Office (or SO as he calls it). I was granted an insider’s access to a different world. He also took me on another “ride-along” into another desolate part of that area. Hart Canyon, he told me. I was lost. Again.
Those trips yielded copious notes and hundreds of photos. I had to use it all!
I got my chance while plotting and writing No Way Home. My Pennsylvanian protagonist, Zoe Chambers, must travel far from her comfort zone to the canyons and bluffs of New Mexico in search of answers regarding her best friend’s missing teenaged son. The search takes her, the missing boy’s younger sister, and a mysterious—and possibly dangerous—Navajo out into Hart Canyon, along with other real locations I’d explored. I used my notes, my experiences, and some of the tales Kevin told me to create a mystery that spans two states over a thousand miles apart. A monumental task, but when you have this kind of material offered to you, what self-respecting mystery author could turn it down. Not me!
About the Author
Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, published by Henery Press, was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and for the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014. LOST LEGACY, was released in September 2014 followed in April 2015 by BRIDGES BURNED, which has been nominated for the Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel. WITH A VENGEANCE, the fourth in the series, was released May 3, 2016.