By Jaden Terrell
Between helping organize the Killer Nashville conference and scrambling to meet the demands of an increasingly demanding day job, I haven't had a lot of time to read for pleasure lately, but now that the conference is over (for now), it's time to catch up. My newest discovery is English thriller writer Zoe Sharp. (Sorry about the missing umlaut, Zoe. If I can figure out how to get it on there, I will. Gentle readers, it should be inserted above the "e".)
My first encounter with Zoe's work was in her new short story anthology, Fox Five: A Charlie Fox Short Story Collection. All five stories in the book feature Sharp's recurring character, Charlotte "Charlie" Fox, a former Special Forces soldier who now works as a self-defense instructor and sometime bodyguard. In "A Bridge Too Far," the first story in the book and the one that occurs before Charlie goes pro, Charlie finds herself hanging out with a group of thrillseekers, members of the local Dangerous Sports Club. When the dangerous sports turn out to be, not just dangerous, but deadly, it's Charlie who recognizes that these "accidents" are anything but accidental.
This well-crafted story hooked me early and kept me reading. The other stories, "Post Cards From Another Country," "Served Cold," "Off Duty," and "Truth and Lies" are equally good. Sharp's writing is crisp and vivid, well-crafted but unpretentious.
Of Sharp's protagonist, Charlie Fox, Paul Goat Allen of the Chicago Tribune, said, "Ill-tempered, agressive, and borderline psychotic, Fox is also compassionate, introspective, and highly principled: arguably one of the most enigmatic--and coolest--heroines in contemporary genre fiction."
Charlie is a jill-of-all-trades, but Sharp is no slouch in that department. She's worked as a van driver, horesback riding instructor, pension and mortgage advisor, and member of a yacht delivery crew. Her hobbies include "sailing, fast cars (and faster motorbikes), target shooting...and reading everything [she] can get her hands on." Her novels have taken her to bestseller status with the Independent Mystery Booksellers' Association, and she's been nominated for a Barry Award for the Best Crime Novel. Last year, Twentieth Century Fox optioned her series for television.
Sharp is working to upload the first five books in the Charlie Fox series (the hardest to get these days and the ones to which she has gotten back the rights) to Kindle and later to other e-readers. I, for one, will be on the lookout for them.
To read more about Zoe Sharp and her books, check out this interview with Timothy Hallinan at The Blog Cabin.