By Annette Dashofy
A Zoe Chambers Mystery #8
Henery Press, 2019
Paramedic Zoe Chambers hoped a week at the Monongahela County Fair, showing her horse and manning the ambulance, would provide a much-needed diversion from recent events that continue to haunt her.
An old friend, a bossy nemesis, and a teenage crush from her 4-H days fail to offer the distraction she had in mind. But ever the caregiver, she soon bonds with a troubled teen and a grieving father.
Back in Vance Township, a missing woman turns up dead, leading Police Chief Pete Adams into a journey through her mysterious final hours. With each new clue, the tragic circumstances of her death grow increasingly muddied.
A cryptic phone call leads Pete to join Zoe for an evening at the fairgrounds where the annual school bus demolition derby concludes with a gruesome discovery and a new case that may or may not be connected to the first.
Pete’s quest for the motive behind two homicides—and Zoe’s stubborn determination to reunite a family—thrust them both onto a collision course with a violent and desperate felon.
Fair Game, book #8 in the Zoe Chambers series, is an excellent murder mystery and I really can’t say enough good things about it. The whole series is a gem in the cozy/traditional mystery genre. The stories are fresh and appealing, focusing on a rural Pennsylvania paramedic and local police chief rather than the prolific food or craft themes, not that there’s anything wrong with those. Characters are well developed, complex, and realistically flawed, with good development throughout the series. The writing and pacing are smooth; there’s no fluff, for every word is important. Each story can stand alone, but I recommend reading them in order for the most satisfying experience.
One of the things I like best is the emotional element in these stories. In Fair Game, Zoe has a lot going on personally and her caring nature involves her even more in people’s lives, including a troubled teen. The romance between Zoe and Pete continues to develop, but with some bumps along the way – such as the reason behind her hesitancy toward marriage and then the appearance of her childhood crush, a judge of the competition in which Zoe enters her beloved Windstar. I loved the fairground and 4-H theme of Fair Game, reminding me of treasured childhood memories at my state’s Southeastern Fair, especially its home and animal exhibits.
Vera Palmer seemed to cry out from the grave
insisting he discover her secrets.
Zoe and Pete’s involvement in the crime overlaps, and there’s emotion and intelligence in the way things play out. The murder victim was a good woman, mother of a handicapped child. The stink of county politics also enters the picture, threatening the careers of Zoe and Pete. Characters and possible suspects abound, but they’re easy to keep up with, and there’s always a touch of humor at just the right time. The solving of the crime unfolds slowly and logically, like the way a jigsaw puzzle gradually comes together. The only negative for me is the occasional use of profanity.
The Zoe Chambers series is a must read for me and I enjoyed Fair Game so very much. I hope every mystery fan discovers these stories.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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.
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