Review of Zero Chill by Carolyn Elizabeth
My reading slump from last year resumed after a very good January. I have picked up and dropped several books because they could not hold my attention. Thank you Ms. Elizabeth for fixing that!
Life resumes for Autopsy Coordinator Corey Curtis and emergency department fellow Dr. Thayer Reynolds, as they are moving on from their brush with the city’s drug ring. I suppose one does not need to read the previous books to follow this one, but I would highly recommend it. The story immediately opens up with a frozen body in the morgue that has a connection to Thayer. This jumpstarts their next adventure set around the Christmas holidays with some hateful and violent events. Unfortunately, it also opens some relationship uncertainty for the main characters (I literally gasped at the cusp of their conflict), while some of the others are lucky to find love.
Zero Chill was like coming home. Okay, perhaps a small exaggeration, but you know what I mean. There are few authors, in my opinion, that can get this level of chemistry between the mains. It is such a pleasure to read Elizabeth’s stories because the connection and feelings she elicits are so palpable. This book was no different and continues to enhance the close relationship Elizabeth started to build two books ago with Gallows Humor.
The dry medical sense of humor, along with the even better geek side of the author, shines through the paragraphs in this novel. The initial morgue scene was wonderfully written and drew me in immediately. That said, the weakest part of the book is the actual mystery/crime. This was not a surprise as Elizabeth’s books are great because they are more character-driven stories vs plot-driven ones. The banter between not only the mains but every character is great and that alone is what has captivated reviewers and readers alike in the past.
I am not a religious person but can appreciate the topic and conflict that it presents to different individuals. Faith is lightly explored here for Thayer as the story takes her to a church and to meet a great new character, Reverend Nora Warren. Absolutely loved how Thayer says her relationship with God didn’t have anything to do with anyone else and she didn’t need anyone’s permission to have one. I would love to hear more about this in say, the next series installment? 😉
This was, as Elizabeth said herself, the author’s pandemic book. Now, that just means she wrote it during 2020, but in this case, it also means it is set, albeit unclearly, during the pandemic. There are some references like Thayer asking a patient if suffering from loss of sense of taste and smell, or Rachel saying her cafe was well because of the takeout service she started before everything shut down. However, there was nothing else to remind us of the times we are living in. Ultimately, I think this was a good choice as everyone is showing signs of ‘Covid fatigue’. Personally, I would have liked to see the author commit to this setting, especially in the morgue (where Elizabeth’s expertise makes her shine) and hospital scenes.
Overall, another great character-driven book as we have come to expect from Elizabeth. Flawless banter with the same undeniable chemistry to do the prequels justice. 4.5 stars
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.