Edith, writing from our guest Annette Dashofy’s home state of Pennsylvania. Annette and I are both at the Pennwriters conference this weekend, but she has a new mystery out in her fabulous Agatha-nominated Zoe Chamber series, and she’ll send one commenter a signed copy of Fair Game! Here’s a little about the book:
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.
Eating Out at the Fair
Although my Zoe Chambers Mystery Series doesn’t include recipes—Zoe isn’t much of a cook and only has two go-to dishes she relies on—there’s usually some dining out going on. Whether Zoe and Pete are having dinner at the fictional Parson’s Roadhouse, footlongs at the equally fictional Dog Den, or lunch at the less fictional Walden’s Café, considerable drama takes place over a meal.
In Fair Game, Zoe spends a week at the county fair and chows down on a lot of fair food. Last summer, I bought a week-long pass so I could do some research.
Our fair, and the one in the book, has a covered dining area separating two rows of food vendors. Additionally, there are the trailers parked along the midway. The aromas wafting from these concessions is enough to turn this health-conscious vegetarian back to the dark side. Sausage grilling with onions and peppers? They should make perfume with that fragrance. French fries. Pizza. Gyros. Tacos. Oh my.
My personal favorite stop is the 4-H Dairy Bar for a chocolate milkshake. (Disregard that previous comment about being health conscious.) I worked the booth as a kid. We were all expected to put in a shift. Younger members and those of us with skinny arms took the orders. Older, stronger kids—and often parents—tackled the chore of digging out the hard-packed ice cream and running the industrial-strength blenders. The milkshake I had last year tasted just as good as the ones I remember.
Recently, as I planned some of my book launch events, the subject of what should be served came up. Chef Rick at the real Walden’s Restaurant in my little hometown of Burgettstown likes to create Zoe-specific dishes for the Dinner with the Author evenings we hold there. For the Fair Game dinner, I suggested dishes inspired by the county fair, which led to some back and forth discussion. Fried this. Deep-fried that. Let’s face it. Fair food is not exactly healthy.
I’ve also been pondering my menu for the launch party at Mystery Lovers Bookshop. I usually provide variations on cheese and crackers and cookies. And wine. For No Way Home, set in New Mexico, I switched the release party menu to tortilla chips, salsa, and queso. What could I serve for Fair Game? Corn dogs? Not good served cold. Funnel cake? A crowd favorite, but a deep fryer and powdered sugar in bookstore? I don’t think so. Cotton candy? Sugary fingers don’t mix with books either.
I guess cheese, crackers, and cookies will have to suffice.
Wickeds and readers: do you have a favorite food when you go to the fair? I’ll send a signed copy of Fair Game to one commenter!
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. A lifelong resident of Washington County (PA), Annette has garnered four Agatha Award nominations including Best Contemporary Novel of 2018 for CRY WOLF. She’s a member of International Thriller Writers, the Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and is on the board of directors of Pennwriters. Fair Game is the eighth in her series.