Today it is my absolute pleasure to be joining the blog tour for the latest gripping thriller from Zoe Sharp, Dancing on the Grave. A departure from her well loved Charlie Fox series this is one book I was very excited to read. My thanks to Ayo Onatade for inviting me to join the tour and to the author for providing an advance copy of the book for review. Let’s take a look at what it’s all about shall we?
About the Book
In one of the most beautiful corners of England,
Something very ugly is about to take place…
A sniper with a mission…
a young cop with nothing to lose…
a CSI with everything to prove…
a teenage girl with a terrifying obsession…
There’s a killer on the loose in the Lake District, and the calm of an English summer is shattered.
For newly qualified crime-scene investigator, Grace McColl, it’s both the start of a nightmare and the chance to prove herself after a mistake that cost a life.
For Detective Constable Nick Weston, recently transferred from London, it’s an opportunity to recover his nerve after a disastrous undercover operation that left him for dead.
And for a lonely, loveless teenage girl, Edith, it’s the start of a twisted fantasy—one she never dreamed might come true.
Now I love me a good action thriller and if there is one thing that Zoe Sharp knows how to do (and trust me there are actually many), it is how to write a bloody good action thriller. Her Charlie Fox series is fabulous and her sense of pace, energy, tension and plain old fashioned, top-notch story telling is superb. Dancing on the Grave is absolutely no exception.
Now if you are of a sensitive nature and don’t like crimes against animals then this may not be the book for you as it starts in a rather gruesome way. Gruesome yes, but also essential as it sets us up for everything that is to come. It is a very clever and very effective opening giving us a hint as to what is about to happen but also leaving some ambiguity over who the sniper’s target may be and leaving us completely clueless over what their motives are too. But the ending of that opening chapter … well I certainly wasn’t expecting that. Massive curve ball. Loved it.
It’s a tough review to write as I don’t want to delve much into story. You need to go on this journey for yourselves. The action is fast paced, the story moving between target and between characters as needed, and, as always, the tension that Zoe Sharp produces on the pages is spot on. Those moments of eerie silence echoing the laser sharp precision of the sniper’s aim, the calming of their heartbeat just as we see an escalation of our own. It had me gripped from the start, desperate to know more and to find out who what why where and when.
The plotting is excellent, slowly feeding the reader just enough to capture their imagination, and the story line is a touch tragic, strangely believable and perhaps, on some level (although minus the murderous tendencies) one to which a few of us may relate. PTSD, in all its forms, is captured in these pages and the way in which characters choose to deal with it are varied but so very, very real. The setting of the Lakes and Cumbria almost makes the story more chilling. It is not impossible for this kind of story to take place in such an idyllic landscape, sadly this kind of case is all too chillingly real and referenced several times in the book itself. It makes what happens all the more powerful and really heightens the back story as a result.
Now the characters are something I can write freely about. I really liked the two central protagonists of Nick Weston and Grace McColl. They are very different, Nick almost slick at times, Grace more matter of fact and controlled. They are from two very different worlds, Nick a former undercover officer and Grace a newly qualified CSI. They rub each other up the wrong way from the off, or to be more precise Nick rubs Grace up the wrong way, and perhaps they shouldn’t work as a pair but something about them absolutely does. Grace was a fascinating character and one I really warmed to quickly. Analytical in approach, she has a keen eye and a determined nature I know folk will love. Nick – well despite me thinking he was a bit of a prat initially, I found myself warming to him too. The more I learned about him, the more I understood and as an outsider to the station, I couldn’t help feeling for him at times.
The other characters were well rounded and varied. We are talking everything from MEP’s wives through to Army Generals here. They all felt real. Authentic. Arrogant. There was Nick’s old boss, Mercer, a man I loathed from the off, his connections to the case quite surprising; Special Constable Jim Airey, a man who can safely be described as a tool and, more importantly, his daughter Edith and ‘The Sniper’. I’m not sure it makes perfect sense but the latter two were characters who I had both a dislike of but also sympathy for, both driven into a situation which could have been avoided, one of them perhaps more willing and chillingly deluded than the other. The twisting relationships which happen throughout this book will make you sit up and take note, make you think long and hard about the rights and the wrongs of what happens, and make you realise nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
I know this is billed as a standalone crime thriller but I for one hope that this is a bare faced lie. I loved the pairing of Nick Weston and Grace McColl. I think it’s a team that has legs. Maybe let us see how far it can walk …?
If you would like to grab a copy of the book for yourself it is available at the following links:
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.
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