Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so happy to welcome Annette Dashofy to Escape With Dollycas today!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I write the Zoe Chambers Mystery Series about a paramedic/deputy coroner in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, where I’ve lived all my life. Cry Wolf, the seventh in the series, is an Agatha Award nominee for Best Contemporary Novel of 2018 (my fourth nomination). My newest release is Fair Game, the eighth in the series.
What are three things most people don’t know about you? That’s a hard question. I’m largely an open book, which drives my husband crazy because he’s ultra-private. Does that count as one? Okay, two more. I once owned and operated a photo studio, Dashofy Photography, with my husband. And I once shook hands with our local SWAT team’s bomb robot. That’s three.
What are you reading now? Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Trust Me.
What books have most inspired you? In addition to those by Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha Christie, which I mention below, I deeply admire those by Julia Spencer-Fleming (the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series) and Craig Johnson (the Walt Longmire series). I love their use of language and emotion.
What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries? As a kid, I was writing all genres until I read Where Are the Children by Mary Higgins Clark. From that point on, I was hooked on crime fiction. And I fell in love with Agatha Christie’s mysteries. After a failed attempt at writing romantic suspense, I discovered a passion for creating puzzles for my readers to solve.
Do you have a special place you like to write? I do the bulk of my writing in my home office on my desktop computer, surrounded by forensics books and sticky notes.
Where do the ideas for your books come from? Everywhere! News stories. Overheard conversations. Random thoughts that pop into my head. For instance, the first chapter of Fair Game grew out of a frustrating and sleepless night in a mystery conference hotel room. The walls were paper thin, and our next-door neighbors were having a party. I could quite literally hear every word they said, and some of it was stuff I didn’t think they’d want repeated! I wanted to yell through the wall, “I can hear you!” Instead, I started thinking, what if they were talking about murdering someone? (They weren’t, FYI.) And that’s what inspired the opening to this book!
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging? The beginning. And then the middle. And then the end. It’s all challenging, but that’s what makes it so much fun.
What do you think makes a good story? As a reader, I want interesting, complex characters. They should have flaws, but I want to like them enough to spend time with them. I also want a thought-provoking plot that raises questions and makes me want to turn the page to find the answers. As a writer, I try to create the same things I like as a reader.
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you? Zoe, of course. She’s a paramedic. I used to be an EMT. She has a horse. I used to have horses. We’re both farmgirls. However, she’s had a much rougher life than I have. She comes from a troubled family, while my family is quite boring! Oddly enough, although Zoe may be most like me, Pete is the easier character to write.
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre? I believe it’s the paramedic aspect. I don’t know of any other paramedic mysteries out there. If there are, please tell me! I’d love to read them!
What’s next on the horizon for you? I’m finishing up writing the ninth Zoe Chambers Mystery, tentatively titled Under the Radar. It should come out early next year, but I don’t have a release date yet. And I’m noodling with murder possibilities for the tenth in the series.
Thank you, Annette, for taking the time to visit today!
Keep reading for my thoughts on Annette’s new book.
About the Book
Fair Game (A Zoe Chambers Mystery)
8th in Series
Henery Press (May 14, 2019)
Hardcover: 286 pages
Paperback: 286 pages
Digital ASIN: B07NSBHMRR
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.
County fairs are so much fun. Zoe Chambers is not only at the Monongahela County Fair as a paramedic, she is also there as a participant, showing her horse, Windstar. She is surprised that someone from her own 4H days is there in the capacity of judge. She also meets the son of another old 4H member. She learns his mother is not the best parent and she tries to take the young man under her wing. Meeting a grieving father also brings out her compassion.
While Zoe is at the fair Police Chief Pete Adams has a case that turns from a missing person to murder after her body is found. The investigation brings Pete to the fair. A fair where a second body is found right after the school bus demolition derby ends. Unsure if the deaths are connected to each other and to other events Zoe and Pete find themselves on a quest to find out and solve all the mysteries.
Annette Dashofy again takes us on a wild ride as she crams all 286 pages full of a mystery the latches on and won’t let go.
Paramedic/Deputy Coroner and Police Chief Pete Adams barely get a moment to breathe. Zoe has her fair activities, an autopsy to view along with all the followup, has been recruited to keep her eyes on a troubled teen, her cousin Patsy Greene, who is also showing her horse, is having man trouble, the farm she inherited still needs a lot of work, and an old crush makes her an offer she may not be able to refuse. Pete is working his case and then another when the second body is found. He is also getting pressure to take a step that could change his life and Zoe’s. He also tries to find time to spend with Zoe at the fair. Oh! and there is an election coming up that could change both their jobs.
Ms. Dashofy has written a complex mystery with many moving parts and many suspects. I always love following these characters on each and every journey. The excitement of the fair was a great setting. Getting to see Zoe in her horsey element was fun along with meeting the people from her past. The people are strong characters but very flawed and some are dealing with heavy issues that affect not only themselves but other people in their lives. While some heavy topics are addressed the author knows just when to add a little bit of necessary humor.
I also enjoyed learning about showing horses and learning about youngsters joining 4H today. I belonged many years ago, but I was a city kid so my fair entries were more of them craft variety instead of the animals. We have enjoyed many fairs with our family over the years. Mostly the music stars for the adults but we always take a trip through the animal barns with the kids and the food and rides are always a hit.
Well-written and well-plotted. The core characters continue to grow and star in this top-notch mystery. I can’t wait for the next book to be released.
These books are best read in order but the author provides enough background to start with any book in the series.
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.
Praise for Fair Game
(A Zoe Chambers Mystery)
by Annette Dashofy
This is a wonderful series with great, realistic characters. I love Zoe and Pete. They are both intelligent, caring, loyal and somewhat emotional.
~Carla Loves To Read
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”