by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of Death by Equine By Annette Dashofy, along with a fun interview with Annette! Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a signed copy of the book and a link to order it from Amazon and an independent bookstore.
Death by Equine by Annette Dashofy
Review by Cynthia Chow
Instead of getting ready for the next morning’s long anticipated vacation trip to Hawaii with his wife, Doc Lewis spent his last night before leaving out on a late veterinarian call to check on a colicky horse. It will be Doc’s last patient, as the next day he is found stomped to death in the chestnut stallion’s stall. Jessie Cameron had only planned on filling in for her mentor at the Riverview Park Racetrack while the Doc was on vacation for two weeks, but the park CEO immediately pressures her into making it a permanent position. It’s a demand that would mean leaving her best friend and partner at their Cameron Veterinary Hospital completely in the lurch, and Dr. Meryl Davidson isn’t shy about needing equal time from her friend. Jessie can’t help but feel indebted to Doc Lewis, though, being a second father who took her in and taught her the life of a veterinarian. It’s also why she feels obligated to pursue answers when Doc’s wife Amelia pleas for help in putting together the pieces of the puzzle that just don’t seem to fit.
The Pennsylvania State Police are more than ready to close the case and declare Doc Lewis’s death an accident, despite evidence that the lethal horse was injected with a sedative the late vet knew would result in violent reactions. The fact that the investigating State Trooper is Jessie’s estranged husband only has her more determined to look for more answers, especially since Greg has declared his intentions to push her out of his life very clear. The more that Jessie investigates Doc’s practice and the operations at the Park, the more she discovers that trust is a rare commodity when money comes into the equation. A break-in, vandalism, theft of Doc’s records, and an attempt on her life fail to dissuade Jessie from looking into death and only propel her to prove to Greg that the horse was made into a murder weapon.
This first in the series by the author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series explodes out of the gate with its depiction of the horse racing world and the fascinating characters who populate it. Just when one character appears to be a villain and another an innocent bystander, reveals are made that have loyalties switching and make both the reader and Jessie uncertain of the truth. Jessie very realistically struggles with her feelings of betrayal by her soon-to-be ex-husband, especially when the handsome and rich CEO begins introducing her to his elite lifestyle. Her confidence continues to falter the more Jessie learns about her adored mentor, as Doc Lewis appears to have made very questionable ethical and moral choices.
The result of one of these could take Jessie’s dilemma over whether or not to take over his practice out of her hands, right at the moment that she was about to make a decision. The empathy readers feel for Jessie ensures that they will be invested in her future and future installments of this series, which prioritizes the health and welfare of her animal patients. Compelling characters, delightful animals, and a plot that makes the conclusion uncertain until the very last page makes this a winning new series by a reliable bestselling author.
Interview with Annette Dashofy:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Annette: My first writing implement was a crayon, so that should tell you something. I’ve always written in some form or another from the time I was a child. In high school, I wrote fan fiction (although we didn’t have that name for it then) and passed the stories around during study hall. Later, I wrote for newsletters and magazines. I got serious about writing fiction for publication back in 2004.
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Annette:Circle of Influence, released in 2014 and was the first of what is currently ten Zoe Chambers mysteries. The series is about a paramedic/deputy coroner in rural southwestern Pennsylvania who fights to save lives, and when she fails, she fights to find justice for the victims.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Annette: The fan fiction I mentioned earlier covered a lot of genres including westerns and sci-fi. But once I read Mary Higgins Clark’s Where Are the Children? I turned to crime fiction and never looked back.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Annette: While Death by Equine is my eleventh release, it was written years before Circle of Influence. Death by Equine is about a Thoroughbred racetrack veterinarian who searches for the truth surrounding the tragic death of her mentor and father figure. Years ago, a friend told me I should have been a vet when I rushed to help with her mare, who she was convinced was dying. I diagnosed the problem and knew the treatment, which the real veterinarian confirmed when he finally arrived. Another incident from my past involved another friend helping me sneak my own horse onto the “backside” of a local racetrack so their vet could diagnose what had been a mystery lameness. Those two incidents floated in the back of my brain for ages and became the impetus for the character of Dr. Jessie Cameron and the fictional location of Riverview Park.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Annette: Entertainment is at the forefront of my intentions when I write. If I can address a serious issue and make my readers think or feel, that’s gravy.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?
Annette: I write full time and have deadlines, so I keep a schedule.
KRL: What is your ideal time to write?
Annette: The creative side of my brain seems to function better in the morning, so most of my drafting happens before lunch. In the afternoon, I work on revising another manuscript or other aspects of the business such as marketing, preparing workshops, or the dreaded task of accounting.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Annette: I’ve learned that my process changes for every book. I’m not a true pantser (writing by the seat of my pants), but my outlines vary in length and detail. Since I’ve been submitting proposals lately, I’ve been forced to outline the complete book in order to create a full synopsis. No matter what, though, I always know who the killer is and his motivation before I start writing. I also know the major plot twists. However, I don’t always know what happens between points A and B.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Annette: Yes! Earlier I mentioned I started getting serious about publication in 2004 and my first novel came out in 2014. I signed with my first agent in 2006 (for Death by Equine) and parted company with her two years later when she couldn’t sell the book and lost interest in the mystery genre. I almost had another agent for this book, but the film part of the book/film deal she was working on fell through, so we also parted company, although she remains a friend. No agents were interested in the Zoe Chambers series, but eventually I found a home at a small press.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Annette: Most acceptances are “great” in my mind, but I recently received the most lovely, complimentary rejection from a major publishing house. They raved about my writing and want to see my next project. It made me cry happy tears despite being a pass.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Annette: “Interesting” can be taken a lot of ways, can’t it? The best book signing was my very first one. It felt like all of the friends I’d made in the writing world showed up to celebrate the fact I’d finally made it. There was a signing line all around the store. Amazing. On the other end of the scale are the times (yes, plural) when I traveled a distance to an author event only to find out they didn’t have my books. Lesson learned – always bring your own books, even when they promise they’ll have them!
KRL: What are your future writing goals?
Annette: I’ve signed a contract with a different publisher to continue the Zoe Chambers mysteries, so I’m working on the eleventh in that series. My agent has a proposal for a new series out on submission and I’m working on the first book for that one as well. My goal is to continue juggling those two series while writing an occasional short story.
KRL: Who are your writing heroes?
Annette: Mary Higgins Clark, as I mentioned above, is a major one. I’d also have to include Lisa Scottoline and Hank Phillippi Ryan on that list.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Annette: For Death by Equine, I spent a lot of time at a local racetrack. I had a friend who was a trainer and helped me acquire a groom’s license so I had access to the backside (barn area) where I could observe and interview the assorted workers. I got to handle the horses too! For the Zoe Chambers books, I’ve taken citizens police academies with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the FBI. I also have developed some wonderful friendships with police officers, some local, some not.
KRL: What do you like to read?
Annette: I love reading mysteries and suspense novels. No big surprise there. I also enjoy nonfiction books on forensics and crime investigation. When I need a break, I dive into home reno and decoration books and magazines.
KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?
Annette: I’m addicted to the NCIS franchise and can happily binge watch Leverage, which I’m ridiculously excited to say is coming back later this year! Bring on the new episodes! Also, over the winter, my husband and I discovered The Murdoch Mysteries. Unfortunately, the network the broadcast them went off the air. I’m strongly considering paying for one of the streaming services that carries the show, but I’m afraid I’d get sucked in and never get my work done! For favorite movies, I have two oldies that I’ve seen dozens of times and could watch a dozen more: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Quigley Down Under.
KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Annette: Yes. 1) Join a writing organization. It really does take a village and we need all the networking opportunities we can get.
2) Finish the book. Lots of people start to write something, get bored or get another idea they like better, and never finish anything. Stick with it and FINISH THE BOOK.
3) Never give up. You’ll receive a lot of rejections, which will hurt like the blazes. You’ll need a thick skin, but the only way you’ll definitely not get published is to stop trying.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Annette: This question always stumps me because, to my husband’s chagrin, I’m a wide-open book. I suppose the fact that I am – or was, at least – pretty good at knife throwing might surprise some folks.
Annette: I have one very spoiled dilute calico kitty by the name of Kensi.
KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?
Annette: For aspiring writers, it’s never too early to start reaching out and making friends in the business. Don’t feel that since you don’t have a book out yet, you have nothing of value to offer readers or other writers. Make friends. It’s your friends who will be there to purchase your first book. For readers, post reviews, preferably not the one- or two-star variety! Those reviews help us writers get noticed, and -unless they’re the one- or two-star variety – we’ll love you for them!
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win a signed copy of Death by Equine, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “equine,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 22, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode went up this week.
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