At the Sharp End . . .

The World of ZoŽ Sharp − Author of the Charlie Fox Thriller Series

   View FIFTH VICTIM video with 'The Victim Won't Be Me' by US singer/songwriter Beth Rudetsky Play video

FIFTH VICTIM: Charlie Fox book nine

'How could you let them take you? Why didn't you run? Why didn't you fight? Don't you think I have enough damn blood on my hands?'


With the life of her lover, Sean, still hanging in the balance, former Special Forces soldier turned bodyguard, Charlie Fox, throws herself into her only means of escape − her work.

On Long Island, the playground of New Yorkís wealthy and privileged, she is tasked with protecting the wayward daughter of rich businesswoman, Caroline Willner.

. . .a gripping tale of nonstop action . . . this is hard-edged fiction at its best
Michelle Leber
Starred Booklist review

It seems that an alarming number of the girlís circle of friends have been through kidnap ordeals, and Charlie quickly discovers that the girl, Dina, is fascinated by the clique formed by the earlier victims. Is that why she seems to be going out of her way to invite capture?

Sticking close to her client at parties aboard luxury yachts, glittering events at the local country club, and out horse-riding along the exclusive sands is all part of the job for Charlie, but she comes to worry that Dinaís thrill-seeking tendencies will put both of them in real danger.

And just as her worst fears are realised, Charlie receives devastating personal news. The man who put Sean in his coma is on the loose.

She is faced with the choice between her loyalties to her client and avenging Sean, but the two goals are soon inextricably linked. The decisions Charlie makes now, and the path she chooses to follow, will have far-reaching consequences.

Montauk Point beach−ideal place to bury a body

FIFTH VICTIM opens with Charlie Fox desperately digging on a beach and dreading what she might find. Here is that very beach, south of the lighthouse at Montauk Point on Long Island. Although it is largely shingle rather than sand, there were enough areas of the soft stuff to make not only burial possible but discovery more likely.
Beach-front property on Long Island
Driving past the Long Island beach-front properties was an education, but showed that my fictional wealthy family would be right at home there. Iíd worried that Iíd made their property too grand. After seeing what was out there, worried that I hadnít made it grand enough.
From the author's notebook

The original idea for FIFTH VICTIM came from a magazine article passed on to me by my sister, about the secret lives of the ultra rich. I canít say too much more than that without giving away the plot, but the article sat in the back of my mind for a while before the opportunity came to write this book.

I wanted to set part of the story on Long Island, because it seemed the archetypal home of the wealthy. Actually going there was not a disappointment, seeing some of the massive homes on the shoreline, with nothing between them and Africa but several thousand miles of Atlantic ocean.

The character of Caroline Willner was, I freely admit, originally going to be male. But when I was invited to the Mayhem in the Midlands convention in Omaha, Nebraska in 2009, I put a character name into the charity auction. The winning bidder was Dina Willner, who was torn between having the character named for herself or for her late mother. The answer to that was simple − instead of a troubled father and daughter relationship, in the story Caroline and Dina Willner have a troubled mother and daughter relationship instead. In some ways, it worked out a lot better.

Mayhem in the Midlands was a great convention, but one of the real eye-openers for me was the setting in Omaha, Nebraska. I enjoyed visiting the city so much I decided that it would be fitting for an important part of FIFTH VICTIM to take place there.