I know it’s only a week since I shared my review of the fourth book in the Charlie Fox series but, frankly, when I’d read it, I leapt straight into this one, expecting more of the same. Last time, I commented on how we’d gone from the north-west of England to Florida in the space of a couple of books. The implication was that, from a relatively narrow setting, Charlie’s world had grown bigger and more exciting. After all, one of the attractions of movie series like Bond and Mission Impossible is their globe-trotting nature. What I was ignoring was that scale doesn’t necessarily mean better. (I’m sure I could have phrased that better – but size doesn’t matter didn’t seem appropriate.)
Anyway, anticipating more globe-trotting, I was surprised to see we were back in England, and back in the north. In some respects, it did feel like the horizons had closed in, but that worked well. Within the setting, there was a real sense of peril, as well as uncertainty, because we really didn’t know where the peril was coming from. In that sense, it reminded me a little of some of Alistair MacLean’s early novels.
Like HMS Ulysses or Ice Station Zebra, there were a group of people and you knew that one or more of them was responsible for the dastardly deeds taking place, but it wouldn’t be until much later in the book that they were revealed. Because of the reveal, it might’ve been tempting to compare with Agatha Christie, but the MacLean comparison is more appropriate. There’s no amateur sleuthing going on here. This is tension and action. Oh, yes, and lots of motorbikes.
If it wasn’t for the fact that Charlie Fox is a woman, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a book about a man’s world. In a sense, it is, because there are a lot of men to go along with the bikes. But this is very much a case of Charlie holding her own in a very macho environment (and not for the first time). That doesn’t mean she isn’t vulnerable. The fact that she is makes it all the more compelling. But she isn’t damsel-in-distress vulnerable. She’s just human. And that adds to the tension and suspense. Because this doesn’t feel like the kind of series where the good guy always comes out on top. This feels very real, and is all the better for it.
Inevitably, I found myself reading it avidly, curious to see where it would take me. And it took me in a direction I hadn’t anticipated, especially after the previous novels. Which just goes to show that, just because you’re reading a series, it doesn’t mean you’ll be served up with the same stuff every time.
It’ll be interesting to see where Charlie goes next.
If you’ve missed this treat of a book and want a copy yourself, click on the image above. If you want to know more about the author, you can check out her website here.