Saturday, March 10, 2018

Uneasy Prey (A Zoe Chambers Mystery Volume 6)

Author:  Annette Dashofy
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781635113235; 9781635113204
Henery Press Publishing
286 Pages
$31.95; $15.95; $6.99 Amazon
March 27, 2018


On the way to the emergency room, an elderly woman regains consciousness long enough to inform paramedic Zoe Chambers that her fall down the basement steps was no accident.  Before she can say more, she succumbs to her injuries, launching Zoe and Police Chief Pete Adams into the investigation of a burglary ring targeting the area's vulnerable senior citizens.  Zoe - in spite of Pete's objections - takes it upon herself to act as protection detail after the con men, disguised as water company employees, set their sights on Zoe's beloved former landlady.  It's a decision that eventually puts Zoe in harm's way.  With Zoe already recovering from one close call, Pete must race against time to stop the crime ring - and a dangerous killer - before they strike again. 


Zoe Chambers is a paramedic in Pennsylvania.  Just as she's back to work after recovering from an injury, she receives a call that an ambulance is needed at elderly widow Oriole Andrews' home.  When she and her co-worker Earl arrive, they find Oriole at the bottom of the basement stairs, where she's apparently taken a nasty fall.  Oriole's granddaughter Janie is distraught and tells them she found her that way.  But on the way to the hospital, Oriole regains consciousness and tells Zoe she was pushed; but dies before she can tell them who did it.

Concerned, Zoe shares this information with Police Chief Pete Adams, who is also Zoe's live-in boyfriend.  What Zoe learns later is that con men posing as water department employees are targeting elderly people and burglarizing them.  When Zoe's friends the Krolls have a run-in with the thieves, Zoe decides to temporarily stay with them to keep them safe.

But Pete has problems of his own.  His sister Nadine is falling apart caring for their elderly father Harry, who has Alzheimer's, so makes the decision to put him in an assisted-living facility.  The one she's chosen is Golden Oaks, and it's as nice as they come, even though Pete knows Harry would still be happier at home.  But just when he thinks it's not going to work out, Harry sees his across-the-hall neighbor Barbara and becomes instantly smitten.  So, for the time being at least, Pete's mind is at rest.

But then the retired town police dispatcher Sylvia makes a call to the station that the con men have come to her home, too, and Zoe and Pete rush to her side.  While there, she has what appears to be a heart attack, and while they're at the hospital, she's also burglarized.

Not to help the situation is a reporter who's come to town, Lauren Sanders, and she won't give up on the case.  She's there at every turn Pete or Zoe makes, and they begin to wonder how she knows what's going on and why she's around every corner.  They wonder if she's involved somehow; and Janie's son Marcus is getting into fights at school, which only complicates things.  Now Zoe and Pete both have their hands full, trying to find these guys and handle everything before someone else is killed...

I have always enjoyed the Zoe Chambers books; and each time I read one I remember why.  The plot is well-thought out and the characters are full of life.  Zoe and Pete have their new live-in relationship pretty well navigated, and now they have new problems with needing Pete's dad to go to a new place to live and Zoe worried about the Krolls, her ex-landlords.  It doesn't help that Oriole's granddaughter's son is acting up at school, nor that attractive reporter Lauren Sanders appears to be flirting with Pete in order to get information.  Along again is Monongahela County Detective Wayne Baronick, who's also investigating the burglaries, and while sometimes a thorn in Pete's side, he's grateful that Wayne's there to help.

Pennsylvania's winter countryside covered with snow cannot be easy to navigate, and can be treacherous; and Ms. Dashofy's descriptions are vibrant and enough to make you feel the cold along with the characters.  The people in the book seem real and convincing; each has a definite personality and draw you into the book along with them.

The mystery itself is woven tightly and with many threads; when it at last all comes together and you see how everything - even what seems trivial - connects, it is definitely a pleasing outcome to an admirable story.  Ms. Dashofy is an excellent writer with a broad imagination that makes you want to read her books more than once.

At the end, it is rather sad on the paths life can take us, and how even the smallest decision can color everything we do.  While sadness does reign, there is also happiness to be found, and this was indeed a very good book and I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.


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