It’s 2023, so welcome back after what has, I hope, been a suitably festive break – whatever that means for you. Much as I wanted to spend time working on a novel over the Christmas period, it turned out that my energies were needed elsewhere – and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

So, Happy New Year! Let’s hope 2023 contains a little less stress than most people have felt in 2022. (A lot less stress would be better, but my optimism has been tempered by events over the past few years.)

For now, I’ll crack on with catching up on book reviews that should have been posted long before now.

The first of these is another in the Charlie Fox series.┬áIt’s less than a month since I posted my last one. My review of Second Shot does, at least, bring me up to date. (Incidentally, if you’re curious about the previous ones I’ve written, type either ‘Charlie Fox’ or ‘Zoe Sharp’ into the search box on the right. Like the books themselves, the posts are well worth reading.) As I said about a month ago, I’ve let things slide on my blog and, along the way, omitted to post reviews of books I’ve read and enjoyed. It must be over a year since I read this book.

You’d expect my recollection of a book I’d read a year ago to be a little hazy. In truth, some of the fine detail are. Then again, as an author myself, I don’t like reviews to include spoilers, so I wouldn’t include fine details anyway. What I can recall is how I felt as I read it.

The previous book had taken Charlie back to England after a brief foray to Florida. This time she’s back in the States, but further north. From the Sunshine State to an icy New England, Charlie’s working close protection again, and this time she’s got a mother and her young daughter to look after. The problem is, she doesn’t know where the real threat’s coming from. And that only adds to the tension.

Of course, the nature of a lot of crime novels is that the protagonist doesn’t always know who or what they’re up against. From that point of view, this is nothing new. Even so, this is well executed, with red herrings and suspicious characters aplenty. And, no, I didn’t work out who or why in advance.

As ever with Charlie Fox, there was plenty of action and, even when there wasn’t any, the pace didn’t let up. That said, this isn’t just a well-plotted book. Charlie is a complex, but very human character, who wrestles with her emotions just as much as she wrestles with the bad guys.

A small aside. There have been references in the publicity for this series that suggest Charlie is a female Jack Reacher. That myth has been compounded by the endorsements from Lee Child himself. I’ve said in a previous post that I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. I find Charlie Fox a more credible character. She’s more human, more vulnerable – and therefore more of a hero when it comes to overcoming the bad guys. It was interesting, then, to come across someone in this book who shares the same name as a recurring character from the Reacher series. I doubt it’s a coincidence, but I’ll let you work out who it is.

Yet again, Zoe Sharp has produced a story that moves her protagonist in a new direction, and gives her more space to grow. As I’ve written this post, I couldn’t help but realise that I’m well overdue a visit to Charlie’s world. I want to see where she’s heading next – and not just geographically. I suspect the seventh in the series will drop into my Kindle very shortly. You have been warned…

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.