Friday, January 30, 2015

Bridges Burned (A Zoe Chambers Mystery Book 3)

Author:  Annette Dashofy
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars

Paramedic Zoe Chambers is used to saving lives, but when she stops a man from running into a raging inferno in a futile attempt to rescue his wife, Zoe finds herself drawn to him, and even more so to his ten-year-old daughter.  She invites them both to live at the farm while the grieving widower picks up the pieces of his life.

Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams, of course, is not happy with this setup, especially when he finds evidence implicating Zoe's new house guest in murder times two.  When Zoe ignores Pete's warnings, she runs the very real chance of burning one too many bridges, losing everything--and everyone--she holds dear.

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Zoe Chambers is a paramedic/deputy coroner in a small town in Pennsylvania.  She lives in a farmhouse, part of which has been converted for an apartment; and when she's off-duty gives riding lessons and boards horses along with her own.  A local land developer is trying to buy the farm where she lives - which she is against, since it was difficult enough for her to find a place to live that would house her cats and horse as well.  She is also just beginning a new stage to her relationship with Chief of Police Pete Adams, even though they're finding it hard to get any real time together.  Zoe, it seems, has a full life...

...which just began to become complicated.  While responding to a fire in a newly built housing project, a man runs toward the burning building screaming his wife is in there and Zoe tackles him, learning he is Holt Farrabee, and also has a ten-year-old daughter, Maddie.  When things begin to calm down, it is discovered that Holt's wife Lillian was indeed in the building, and now he not only has no place to live, he also has no job, and he and Maddie are reduced to residing in a local run-down motel.

Since her landlord Mr. Kroll is in the hospital, and Mrs. Kroll is elderly, Zoe, feeling sorry for Maddie and with memories of her own past dredged up (losing her father as a child), learns Holt is a carpenter, and offers them a place to stay (with Mrs. Kroll's blessing) in return for doing work around the house and barn that she can't do herself.  Naturally, this doesn't sit well with Pete, who thinks Holt could be guilty of murdering Lillian.

It is soon learned that Holt and his family wasn't supposed to be in the house at all.  They had been evicted, yet returned to the home a few weeks later.  And as more things come to light, Pete must deal with his jealousy, his suspicions, and Zoe, who refuses to give in.  Add in a domestic dispute between a man and his father-in-law that soon escalates into something else, and things become very sticky very fast.

What we have here is a book that is sheer enjoyment.  Ms. Dashofy has created a mystery you can get your teeth into.  The characters are well-written and have depth.  Although the book starts out a tad slow, it soon picks up and you find yourself caught up in the murder and who committed it.  Although this is the third in the series, it can be read as a stand alone.  You don't learn everything about Zoe's past, but you learn enough to understand 'where she's coming from,' as it were.  You know that she wants to help the little girl get through a difficult time in her life, and that by doing so, she is helping herself.  And when there are issues between Zoe and Pete, you want to see them resolved, because they have waited so long to get this far in their relationship.

What else can I say?  I enjoyed this book so much that I will be reading the first two in the series as soon as I can find the time.  Highly recommended.


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