No one can manipulate tension in the way Zoë Sharp does with her Charlie Fox thrillers. In fact, she does it so well that I’ll confess right here I couldn’t read Fourth Day, the novel in which Charlie Fox and Sean Meyer went undercover into a California cult. I own the book, and it went on to become a Barry Award finalist for Best British crime novel. Even though I normally read books in order, I skipped that one and went right on to the new release, Fifth Victim.
With her partner, Sean, in a coma, Charlie has been under a great deal of stress, going to the hospital every day, trying to talk Sean out of it. Parker Armstrong, her boss, understands Charlie’s need to work, so his latest job offer will come as a distraction, taking her mind off Sean’s condition. The job will plunge her into the lifestyles of the rich and spoiled brats.
In the last year, three young people, children of wealthy parents with homes on Long Island, have been kidnapped, and later returned when their parents paid the ransom. They were “Rich people who would do anything to avoid bad publicity.” They paid up, never telling the police or the FBI. Now, Charlie agrees to be the bodyguard for Dina Willner, the twenty-year-old daughter of Caroline Willner, a wealthy investment banker. Charlie’s job isn’t made easier by the fact that Charlie likes both Caroline and Dina, despite the ongoing power plays between the two women. And, it isn’t made easier by Dina’s association with all three of the previous kidnapping victims.
Their own horses, twenty-first birthday parties on magnificent yachts, bodyguards, limousines, charity auctions, and Lear jets are all part of the world of these young people. Boredom and anger at their parents also seem to be a part of it. When Charlie foils a kidnapping attempt at the stables where Dina rides, she’s struck by the excitement all the young people seem to share after the incident. As the violence escalates, kidnapping becomes the least of Charlie’s problems.
As I said, no one manipulates tension as Zoë Sharp does. She plunges the reader into the action instantly, beginning her books in the midst of the action, then backtracking to the original story. She kickstarts the action so quickly, and the tension, that the reader never has a chance to grow complacent. There’s trouble coming for Charlie Fox, and we always know that it will get bad, because Sharp clues us in. At the same time, she leaves us dangling. Three kidnapping victims. Three ransom demands. Why is the latest Charlie Fox thriller called Fifth Victim? Take a deep breath, and plunge into another gripping story by a master of manipulation.
Zoë Sharp’s website is http://www.zoesharp.com.
Fifth Victim by Zoë Sharp. Pegasus Crime. ©2011. ISBN 9781605982762 (hardcover), 445p.
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