I'm ashamed to say it took me two months, off and on, to finish Zoë Sharp's latest Charlie Fox thriller, Third Strike. It's certainly not the fault of this fast-paced book that builds the suspense and tension from the first page. It was the collision of the threats in this book with my own own quirks as to what I don't like to read. I can say, if you're a thriller reader, you'll love the tension in this book.
Charlie is still recovering from recent injuries when she sees her father, a well-known surgeon, appear on television, confessing that he's an alcoholic, and he may have jeopardized a client. When Charlie confronts her father, events start to spiral out of control. She and Sean Meyer, her partner and work associate, move in to rescue her father from an untenable situation, only to find their jobs in client protection compromised. Before they know it, they're on their way back to England to save Charlie's mother, when she indicates she can't talk because someone is in the house with her.
Sharp is very skillful in combining action, suspense, and thoughtful self-examination. Throughout the book, Charlie examines her feelings for Sean and her father. She finds herself falling back in the role of a daughter wanting to please an impossible father, rather than that of an independent woman who chose a career that suits her. And, she has to confront her reluctance to stand up to her father. Charlie continues to learn more about her mother, watching her gain a strength Charlie never recognized, while realizing the depth of the caring between her parents. At the same time, she recognizes that her father will never accept the violent life she and Sean share.
Third Strike brings up controversial issues about drug companies and the government. Sharp does a marvelous job making an outrageous situation seem very realistic.
As I mentioned before, my own reluctance to finish this book stemmed from my feelings about families in jeopardy. I normally don't read women and children in jeopardy novels, so I was uncomfortable with some of the situations in this book. But, this is a personal quirk, rather than a strike against Sharp's book. I'm still going to look forward more of Sharp's books.
If you've never read a Charlie Fox thriller, you can still start with Third Strike. This book reveals more about Charlie's family than readers have known. Once you've discovered Zoë Sharp's books, you'll want to go back and learn the rest of Charlie's story. She's a complicated, fascinating character. And, Sharp is a master as leaving Charlie, and the reader, with more questions for the future. And, there are definitely unanswered questions at the end of Third Strike.
Zoë Sharp's website is www.zoesharp.com.
Third Strike by Zoe Sharp. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2008. ISBN 978-0312358976 (hardcover), 336p.