Someone recently asked me why I’d wanted to work for the County Coroner’s Office. I’ve been a paramedic for a long time. My passion is to help people who are sick or injured, so what would drive me to focus on those I couldn’t save?
To be honest, I didn’t simply wake up one day and say “Hey! I want to be a deputy coroner!” I didn’t approach Coroner Franklin Marshall about the job. He approached me.
Franklin called me and five other paramedics into his office and told us he had an idea and wanted to try it out. In other words, we were his guinea pigs. He wanted hire us as deputy coroners and send us for training. Then, as first responders, when we were faced with a DOA, we could pronounce death, something we couldn’t do as paramedics.
I had mixed feelings about the offer. I’ve always claimed that no one died in our ambulance. If they went into cardiac arrest, we provided basic and advanced life support to get them to the hospital. But Franklin allayed my concerns. Once rescue efforts began, we would continue just like always. He wasn’t asking us to override our paramedic duties and instincts.
With that worry addressed, I started daydreaming about one of my favorite TV shows. You know the one. Beautiful women wearing high heels and handsome men investigate homicides, finding microscopic clues to nail killers. Heck, this might be fun. I’d get to work side-by-side with my favorite cop, Vance Township Chief Pete Adams.
Sign me up!
Two of us accepted Franklin’s offer. Three said thanks but no thanks.
The training was intense, and I passed the test with flying colors. The reality of the job, however, wasn’t what I’d imagined.
First of all, Franklin demanded we assist in autopsy from time to time. I never expected it to be a problem after all I’ve seen while working on the ambulance. But it wasn’t the sights of autopsy that got me. It was the smell. I won’t gross you out with the details. Just trust me. It was awful. And I swear, Franklin and his forensic pathologist, Doc Abercrombie, took sadistic pleasure in assigning me the most disgusting tasks. I’m pretty sure they placed bets on how long I’d last before bolting for the restroom.
Even more frustrating, Franklin never let me work the interesting cases. He kept those for himself. All he permitted me to do was call time of death on poor old folks who’d passed away, unattended, in their beds. If there was any real investigating to do, Franklin handled it himself.
In the last year or so though, I guess I’ve proved myself and passed muster. I can make it through an entire autopsy now. Not that the odors don’t still get to me, but I’ve learned to handle them. And on occasion, Franklin has allowed me to tackle a case on my own.
So, while it still isn’t like that TV show set in Vegas, I do get to work with Pete. And I find the job with the Coroner’s Office isn’t so different than my job with Emergency Medical Services. It’s simple really. If I can’t save a patient’s life, I can help find them justice.
Cry Wolf (Zoe Chambers Mystery) by Annette Dashofy
About the Book
Cozy Mystery 7th in Series
Henery Press (September 18, 2018)
Hardcover: 276 pages
Rural Pennsylvania’s Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams is down an officer and has been dealing with extra shifts as well as a pair of bickering neighbors, one of whom owns a machete and isn’t afraid to use it.
Golden Oaks Assisted Living is outside Pete’s jurisdiction, but a murder in the facility his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father calls home makes the case personal.
Paramedic and Deputy Coroner Zoe Chambers has been itching for an opportunity to take the lead in a death investigation. She gets her chance when her boss is hospitalized and not only assigns her to the Golden Oaks homicide but puts her in charge of the county coroner’s office.
As if she doesn’t have enough to handle, a long-lost, over-protective, older half-brother walks into her life threatening to drive a wedge between her and the man she loves.
A second dead body leads them to realize the case may have dark ties to a distant past…and if Zoe doesn’t untangle the web of lies, Pete will be the one to pay the ultimate price.
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 was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2014 and BRIDGES BURNED was nominated for the 2015 Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel.
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