Thursday, March 14, 2019

Book Review: Bridges Burned by Annette Dashofy (Zoe Chambers Mysteries #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and mystery
Cons: All cons went up in smoke
The Bottom Line:
Explosion and fire
Create relationship wedge
Drama amidst twists

Can Zoe and Pete Solve the Case Before They Burn Bridges?

I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in books.  There are all the book that come out each month I want to read, but there are also the older books that I have missed.  I need more hours in my day to devote to reading.  (Or not having to work a day job.)  Which brings us to the Zoe Chambers series.  I didn’t start this series when the first one came out, and now I am having to fit the older books of the series into my reading schedule.  Bridges Burned is the third in the series, and it was well worth making the time to read.

If you are new to the series, it focuses on Zoe Chambers, an emergency medical worker who is training to be the deputy coroner is a rural Pennsylvania county.  Just as important to the series is Pete Adams, the chief of police in the area.  In fact, I really consider them the co-leads of this series since we spend equal times in their third person points of view.  After years of being friends, Zoe and Pete have finally started dating, but this new case might put a damper on that.

It all starts with an explosion.  One of the few houses in a new subdivision explodes after the residents report smelling gas.  While Zoe isn’t on duty, she rushes to the scene to offer whatever aid she can.  While she is there, she stops the distraught owner from rushing in to see if his wife was home.

Sadly, the wife’s remains are found in the rubble.  The fire investigator also find evidence that the gas leak and explosion that killed her wasn’t an accident.  While Pete immediately suspects her husband of setting things up, Zoe doesn’t believe it.  It helps that she has begun bonding with the victim’s daughter.  Both Pete and Zoe dig in their heels, certain that they are correct.  Where will the facts lead?  Will their relationship be destroyed before the truth is revealed?

This is a bit of an unusual mystery.  There is plenty of stuff happening, and we certainly get clues that lead us to a solution.  But, instead of the many suspects that could have done it, we seem to zero in on one at a time until everything gets figured out.  This really is structured more like a police procedural than the cozies I normally read, which is why the plot felt different to me.

There is plenty of drama between Pete and Zoe in the book as well.  Since we spend time with both of them, we get to see the misunderstandings from both points of view.  I actually appreciated this since it let us see that both of them did see the other’s point of view, making them richer characters.  It also let us know that when one of them was stupid, they recognized it.  Trust me, that’s a good thing.  Otherwise, it would be easy to hate one character over another.  Instead, we feel sympathetic for both of them.  While this is an important part of the book, the twists and turns of the case are always front and center, and help drive their positions.

There are some stand outs in the new characters who are as fully formed as Pete and Zoe and allow us to be pulled into their lives and the drama unfolding around them.  Even those we don’t get to know super well hint as the depth we would see if they spent more time on the page.

And everything leads to a logical, page turning climax.  I couldn’t put the book down when I got there because of the overwhelming odds and danger the characters are facing.

This series sits on the border between cozy and traditional.  Because of Zoe and Pete’s jobs, we get a bit more detail than we normally would in a cozy.  Likewise, there is a smattering of foul language.  Neither goes to extremes, so it doesn’t bother me too much.  Just know that going into the book and you’ll be fine.

Bridges Burned is another wonderful book from the pen of Annette Dashofy.  If you haven’t started this series yet, be sure to do so today.

Need to catch up?  Here are the Zoe Chambers Mysteries in order.

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