Here is my sentence: “He’d always been a fair judge of character.”
I am trying to say that he’s a pretty good judge of character without using the word ‘good’. This is because it just fits and sounds better with the rest of the paragraph and using the word ‘good’ will make it weaker. Is this correct or will it be misunderstood to mean that he’s a ‘so/so’ judge of character?
Only in the sense of “fair” meaning impartial (i.e., free from bias – see def. 1) and only if being impartial makes one “good” at whatever is being described, like in the case of judging or being a judge. Even then, though, it wouldn’t expressly convey that the person is “good” at whatever that “something” is but rather merely imply it. To get any such inference, a listener would have to already know that one who exercises fairness makes a person “good” at whatever that “something” is.
“Fair” in its sense of being adequate (i.e., tolerably good, a qualified good and so not actually good – see def. 4) does not rise to the level of what is actually considered “good” (i.e., “good” without some qualifier, much like how “you look good for your age” doesn’t actually mean “good” as it is a qualified “good” and doesn’t stand on its own as “good” without that qualifier).