BAD TURN By Zoe Sharp (Zace, 2019)
I have long been a fan of Zoe Sharp’s Charlie Fox series.
The series about former British Special Forces soldier and professional bodyguard Charlie Fox started in 2001 and is still going strong. Bad Turn is the thirteenth book in the series and is probably one of the best.
It opens with Charlie starting a new life in rural New Jersey after quitting her job as a prized close protection operative for a large security firm. She is house-sitting a rural property when she comes across a violent kidnap attempt on Helena Kincaid, the wife of billionaire arms dealer, Eric Kincaid. She foils the attempt and is offered a job to look after Helena on a permanent basis. Charlie is reluctant to work for an arms dealer, but with no job and no permanent house she is in no position to be fussy. In any event, Charlie enjoys protecting people and is good at it, but when the threats against Helena escalates, she begins to regret her decision. It is also made more complicated by the fact that everyone in the Kincaid entourage has their secrets, including Charlie.
This is a rip-roaring thriller that starts with an exciting shoot-out and keeps the tension ramped at a high level as the book races from New Jersey to Italy to a final bloody shoot-out in the French countryside. The book is smoothly plotted and Zoe throws in enough good twists to keep it interesting. The characters are interesting and the action scenes are nicely choreographed and not too fanciful. Unlike a lot of male thriller writers, Zoe keeps the violence realistic and Charlie’s reaction to danger is credible and suspenseful.
I had become a little tired of the angst-ridden relationship between Charlie and her former boyfriend, the damaged Sean Meyer, which had dominated recent books and was pleased that Meyer’s presence was largely missing from Bad Turn. It made it a much tighter book, with a stronger focus on the mechanics of the job that Charlie has undertaken. Some of the developments strain credibility, but not enough to detract from what is a very enjoyable thriller read.
Charlie Fox was one of the first tough, female bodyguard/military operatives to grace thriller fiction and despite the flood of new entrants in recent years she easily remains one of the best!
Four stars out of five!
Bad Turn is available in book format and also on Kindle for the very low price of $A5.99.