Today it’s my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for Fox Hunter, the twelfth book in the Charlie Hunter series from Zoe Sharp. My thanks go to Ayo Onatade for inviting me to be a part of the tour and to the Zoe Sharp for providing and advance copy for review. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book with you all in just a moment, as soon as we’ve taken a look at what the book is all about.
The Official Book Blurb
FOX HUNTER is the latest in Zoë Sharp’s highly acclaimed Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox crime thriller series.
‘The dead man had not gone quietly … There was a time when I would have given everything I owned to be the one responsible for that.’
Charlie Fox will never forget the men who put a brutal end to her military career, but she vowed a long time ago she would not go looking for them.
Now she doesn’t have a choice.
Her boss and former lover, Sean Meyer, is missing in Iraq where one of those men was working as a private security contractor. When the man’s butchered body is discovered, Charlie fears that Sean may be pursuing a twisted vendetta on her behalf.
Sean’s partner in their exclusive New York close-protection agency needs this dealt with—fast and quiet—before everything they’ve worked for is in ruins. He sends Charlie to the Middle East with very specific instructions:
Find Sean Meyer and stop him. By whatever means necessary.
At one time Charlie thought she knew Sean better than she knew herself, but it seems he’s turned into a violent stranger. As the trail grows more bloody, Charlie realises that unless she can get to Sean first, the hunter may soon become the hunted.
Now if you’ve seen any of my other reviews, you may have spotted that I’m a bit of a sucker for the old action thriller. I loved reading Tom Clancy when I was younger, and have more recently come to really enjoy getting back into reading books which combine action with a really good story and compelling characters. When I was offered the opportunity to read Fox Hunter, not only the latest in a highly acclaimed series, but featuring a kick-ass female lead to boot I didn’t hesitate. I’d heard author Zoe Sharp on a couple of panels at crime festivals over the past couple of years, and heard her read a passage from the book at Noir at the Bar in Harrogate earlier this year. Not easy listening by any sense, a very harrowing subject made perhaps more real and brutal when read aloud, but I knew instinctively that I wanted to read this book.
Now, I’ll admit it. I am so far behind in catching up after the best part of a 17 year reading hiatus that I feel like I will never catch up. This, I’m ashamed to say, is my very first Charlie Fox book. But what a book it was. If you are going into this new to the series then be aware that this may contain spoilers for issues which are hinted at but not necessarily disclosed in the prior books. I am only saying that due to things I have read about the book from the author herself. I sadly can’t speak from experience. However, that said, I don’t for a minute believe them to be detrimental to going back and reading the other books. Because they haven’t been disclosed in full before, I don’t think they will spoil my enjoyment when I go back and read the others. Because I will do that as this book rocked.
Sent to Iraq to try to find her former colleague and lover, Sean Meyer, Charlie Fox is immediately plunged into the middle of a very serious situation. Meyer is suspected of having committed a very violent crime, one which Charlie has every reason not to want to see resolved. But Charlie is a professional and knows that the key to the whole investigation lies in finding Meyer and proving his innocent. For if there is one thing she is sure of it’s that Meyer can’t have changed that much to have committed the crime he is accused of. Nothing about the case is plain sailing and Charlie really doesn’t know who to trust as even the ‘friendly’ fire proves to be a great threat. Faced with some old adversaries and men she would rather forget, Charlie may be heading into a fight from which there is no return.
Oh lordy. Well – advance warning. This book contains some pretty strong violence and some really difficult and hard to read situations, described in a way that, while not overly gratuitous, ensure that there are no pulled punches. The reader will feel every last strike. Starting from the initial crime scene where Charlie comes face to face with someone from her past, to the scenes in which a local girl describes a rather brutal attack, even to a scene in which Charlie and Dawson are ambushed while trying to track Meyer, there is no let up and no hiding from the brutal truth. And I wouldn’t expect it. War is violent and those who seek to profit from it, be their allies or otherwise, are not going to be offering tea and biscuits. But you know what? It doesn’t have to be because Charlie Fox can hold her own.
I loved reading this book. Coming to get to know a female character who, while bruised and battered and not completely infallible, was every bit as strong and savvy as her male counterparts. Even though this case gave her every reason to crumble, forced her to confront parts of her history that she would rather have remained long-buried, she still faced them head on. When in combat, under ambush, she proved to be highly proficient in use of fire arms and pretty hand with her fists too. What she lacks in brute force, she more than makes up for in intellect, often blindsiding her opponents with her cunning and intelligence. That is her biggest asset and her greatest weakness as readers of the book will discover. It’s the part of her that her opponents fear the most. She is such a hard-ass character, but not without humanity and it is a beautiful thing to read. Lee Child has likened her to a female Jack Reacher. Maybe she is, maybe she isn’t. What she most definitely is, is a dang good action hero. I’m a fan.
One of the great things about this book for me has been the styling that Zoe Sharp has adopted. It is very no-nonsense in tone, quite matter of fact, a fact which proves highly effective with the first person narrative style. The book is told from Charlie’s point of view, and she is a no nonsense woman. And yet it is littered with very astute observations – of landscape, emotion and atmosphere – something no doubt drawn from the author’s own experiences as a photo-journalist. It makes the narrative flow perfectly and each chapter seems well matched in terms of length and pace to drive the story forward. There doesn’t seem to be a superfluous word here (something probably quite ironic given the length of this review) and I felt myself being pulled from chapter to chapter, keen to read onward, desperate to know what happened and how Meyer, and now Charlie, had found themselves drawn into this big mess.
If you want to read a book which is packed with action, but which also takes time to explore the brutality of war and the kinds of atrocities all too often carried out by those who are sent to ‘aid’ the civilians caught up in conflict, then absolutely pick up this book. If you don’t like heart-stopping action, tension, truly compelling stories, a plot which grabs you from the off and a heroine who is kick ass, witty, intelligent and more than a match for any opponent – well you probably want to steer clear. For those with sense, and good taste, give the book a go.
Fans of the series will love it. I loved it. Highly recommended.
Fox Hunter was released on 12th Spetember 2017, and is available from the following retailers.
About the Author
Zoë Sharp was born in Nottinghamshire, but spent most of her formative years living on a catamaran on the northwest coast of England. After a promising start at a private girls’ school, she opted out of mainstream education at the age of twelve in favour of correspondence courses at home.
Zoë went through a variety of jobs in her teenage years. In 1988, on the strength of one accepted article and a fascination with cars, she gave up her regular job to become a freelance motoring writer. She quickly picked up on the photography side of things and her photo-journalism took her as far afield as the United States and Japan, as well as Europe, Ireland and the UK. She is now a full-time fiction author and creator of the Charlie Fox series of crime thrillers.
Zoë wrote her first novel when she was fifteen, but success came in 2001 with the publication of KILLER INSTINCT − the first book to feature her ex-Special Forces heroine, Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox. The character evolved after Zoë received death-threat letters in the course of her photo-journalism work.
Later Charlie Fox novels − FIRST DROP and FOURTH DAY − were finalists for the Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel. The Charlie Fox series has also been optioned for TV.
As well as the Charlie Fox novels, Zoë’s short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines, and have been shortlisted for the Short Story Dagger by the UK Crime Writers’ Association. Her other writing has been nominated for the coveted Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, the Anthony Award presented by the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, the Macavity Award, and the Benjamin Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers’ Association.
Zoë lives in the English Lake District. Her hobbies are sailing, fast cars (and faster motorbikes), target shooting, travel, films, music and reading just about anything she can get her hands on.
Why not check out some of the other brilliant blogs that have been a part of the tour?