Friday, June 17, 2016

With a Vengeance (A Zoe Chambers Mystery #4)

Author:  Annette Dashofy
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781635110203; 9781635110173
Henery Press
272 Pages
$31.95; $15.95; $4.99 Amazon
May 3, 2016

Five Stars

Paramedic Zoe Chambers and the rest of rural Monogahela County's EMS and fire personnel are used to wading into the middle of trouble to rescue the sick and the injured.  But when someone with an ax to grind seeks retribution by staging accident scenes and gunning down the first responders, Zoe finds herself forced to not only treat her own brethren of the front lines, but also, in her role as deputy coroner, seek out whoever is killing her friends.  At the same time, Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams races to track down a gun, a mysterious all-terrain vehicle, and the sniper before Zoe goes back on duty, placing herself - and Pete - firmly in the gunman's crosshairs.


Zoe Chambers is taking a Citizen's Police Academy class when a chilling call comes in to Pete Adams, Vance Township's police chief and Zoe's boyfriend.  He motions for Zoe to go with him, and what they find isn't pretty:  two of Zoe's fellow paramedics have been ambushed, leaving one of them dead and another seriously injured.  But things get worse the next night when two firefighters are ambushed, again leaving one dead and another injured.

They now know there's a sniper out there gunning for first responders, but who?  And why?  Pete does what he can: while searching for the killer, he orders his officers out on all calls with the medics and firemen, but even he knows it's only a temporary fix.  And he can't help worrying even more because Zoe is one of those medics.

His only leads are a local wanna-be thug who seems too dumb to be true, and eventually someone a little closer to home, who may also not be the right person, but Pete can't afford to take chances.  At least he's got help from the county, with Detective Wayne Baronick on his side, but it doesn't seem to be enough, and Pete is rushing against the clock to find the killer.

But Zoe has problems of her own:  she isn't finding much time to spend with Pete, and she's also pretty much homeless:  with her home destroyed by fire, she's taken refuge with a friend, Rose, but even though they've known each other their entire lives, Rose is a recent widow, and things don't go as swimmingly as planned...

I loved this book.  It has all the elements of a great read:  intrigue, suspense, a little romance, and not one, but two intelligent protagonists.  Ms. Dashofy's characters are warm, palpable, well-defined people you'd like to know and spend time with.  The writing is full of dynamism and energy; it makes you want to read non-stop until the book is finished.  You feel involved in the action, and that is a very good thing indeed; it shows a flair for writing and making the words and characters come alive on the page.  If a series can indeed get better with the passage of time, Ms. Dashofy proves it to be true.

When we reach the end of the book and the killer is finally revealed, it puts together a twisted plot from a deranged mind that even as it makes sense, leaves one feeling with a sort of sorrow that someone could be driven to the edge of insanity for more reasons than we can imagine.  It is, however, an extremely satisfying ending, in more ways than one, even while leaving questions for the next in series, which I greatly anticipate.  This is the fourth book in the series, although it can be read as a stand alone.  Highly recommended.

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