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A Brief History of Crime – Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival

On Thursday, October 17, I’ll be appearing at the Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival with fellow crime author Martin Edwards. We’re giving a talk entitled A Brief History of Crime, starting at 6pm.

Join Zoë Sharp and Martin Edwards on an historical tour of crime fiction, its rise to popularity and the enduring interest in all things murder, kidnap and conspiracy. Our event takes place in the perfect setting for a vintage crime novel: The Royal Toby Hotel.

Our event is followed by Sophie Hannah speaking about Agatha Christie, Poirot and Me. You can buy a double-bill ticket if you’d like to come to both events, which are being held at The Royal Toby Hotel on Manchester Road, Rochdale, OL11 3HF.

You can book tickets here.

Female Heroes Are Fighting Back – Andy Martin writes in The Independent

I’m over the moon to have been one of the three female thriller authors interviewed for an article by Dr Andy Martin in The IndependentAndy Martin is the guy who shadowed Lee Child for his book REACHER SAID NOTHING, about the making of Lee’s Reacher thriller, MAKE ME. (Fascinating book, by the way. I have it on my shelf.) Andy has now done a second book about following Lee through the next book and movie, WITH CHILD. (I just ordered it!)

So, it was no surprise that Andy was going to get his teeth into the subject of female thriller protagonists and their authors in a thorough and thought-provoking way. He’s looked at the background and characters of myself, Steph Broadribb and Alex Callister.

Today’s female heroes are fighting back and sticking it to their male counterparts

Telling men to behave nicely hasn’t worked…so a trio of authors has created a new breed of literary hero: women who are prepared to hit back. Andy Martin talks to the writers

Photo: The Independent (Eve Watling)

Here is a brutal biological fact, the fruit of some evolutionary asymmetry: statistically speaking, men are bigger, heavier, and more muscular than women. They can run faster and they hit harder. So there is a crucial question in the post-#MeToo era that is yet to be properly answered: Can a woman fight back against a man and win? And the “fighting back” here is completely non-metaphorical. In a straight physical encounter between a man and a woman, can the woman ever hope to come out on top? The whole history of patriarchy is predicated on the assumption that the answer is no. There is a vast tradition of sexual violence that says, no way! But there are strong voices out there that say otherwise.

With the domestic abuse bill going through parliament, and “coercive control” now officially illegal, it feels like more than ever the right time for a new generation of hardcore female role models who aren’t just going to lie down or take it on the chin or turn the cheek any more. Think of Big Little Lies: wouldn’t it have been better for all concerned if Celeste had seriously kicked Perry’s arse for him? Broken his jaw or given him a black eye? And maybe Jane could have fought him off – or tasered him – instead of getting raped?

“You’re a woman,” snarls the serial murderer and rapist. “Women are weak, stupid, vain… I showed them who was in control… You think you’re equal to a man, but you never will be… You’ll scream and you’ll beg me to stop just like all the rest.”

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” retorts Charlie Fox.

Read the whole of this article at The Independent.

BAD TURN Blog Tour – Day10 – Crime Book Junkie adores Charlie Fox

Today is the finale of the Blog Tour for BAD TURN. Day 10. Thank you for sticking with me this far. Today I’m honoured to have the book reviewed by the fabulous Noelle Holten of Crime Book Junkie. Noelle is a best-selling author in her own right, so it’s a little bit like asking a professional builder to give their opinion on the work you’ve carried out on your own house…

Set mainly in New Jersey in the US, Charlie Fox is back and takes the reader on an adventure filled with fear, control, protection, anger, payback, manipulation, power, corruption and a search for the truth…but there is so much more!

Hells BLOODY Bells! With an explosive opening that instantly grabs the reader, Bad Turn will have you racing through the pages! The premise of this novel was intriguing and I loved how the reader learns a little bit more about Charlie Fox’s backstory which is then sprinkled throughout the novel—teasing you to carry on if you want to know more. Full of suspense and tension, the author once again has nailed it—a brilliant narrative and action packed read—it was like watching a movie in my mind! Superb!

I absolutely ADORE Charlie Fox—and you see a little bit more of a vulnerable side to her in this novel which makes you like her even more! Charlie is doing what she does best and accidentally uncovers a sinister ploy to kidnap a wealthy woman—the wife of an arms dealer. If she was hoping for the quiet life while house-sitting, she should have known better…after all, she IS Charlie Fox!  Determined as ever to see the job to the end, she comes up against some of the toughest characters, but they are no match for Ms Fox!

Read the whole of this review on Crime Book Junkie.

On the Virtual Road – Blog Touring

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For the past ten days since the new Charlie Fox novel, BAD TURN, came out, I’ve been on the road—virtually speaking. I’ve travelled halfway around the world without ever leaving my desk. I’ve been Blog Touring—or perhaps that should be Tour Blogging?—rather than the physical kind of touring. And it’s been fun.

Of course, in the past I’ve travelled all over the place to libraries and bookstores for the publication of various books in the series, quite often using a trip to the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention to kick things off. As Bouchercon is held in a different city/state every year (even making it over to the UK several times) it means that the starting point has also always been different.

But, this time around I knew I wasn’t going over to Bouchercon and work-in-progress projects are beginning to pile up. So, doing another blog tour, ably organised by the fearsomely efficient Ayo Onatade, seemed like a good choice.

I’m told that sometimes authors rely on their blogger hosts doing a series of reviews but I hesitate over this way of doing things. What happens if one of the reviewers involved really doesn’t like the book? After all, I would have thought they have far too many books on their teetering TBR piles to read it first, just to make sure.

So, I prefer to do guest posts and articles on topics related to the book, mixed in with a few reviews where blogger/reviewers are happy to do them.

Read the whole of this blog over on Murder Is Everywhere.

BAD TURN Blog Tour – Day9 – HEroes vs SHEroes on Chapter In My Life

For Day 9 of the Blog Tour for the launch of BAD TURN, I’m with the superb Sharon Bairden of Chapter In My Life. For this, I wrote a guest post on HEroes vs SHEroes, particularly in those old thrillers where the women were more decorative, shall we say, than useful.

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Bad Turn, the latest in the Charlie Fox series from the brilliant Zoë Sharp. And I think we need to give praise to that cover! Isn’t it stunning!

Thanks to Ayo Onatade for inviting me to take part. I’ve got a cracking guest post lined up for you all.

Guest Post

HEroes vs SHEroes

BAD TURN: Charlie Fox #13

Zoë Sharp

I’ve always loved to read thrillers, starting back with Alistair MacLean, Ian Fleming, and Arthur Hailey and reading just everyone in the genre from there onward.

The only problem I found was with the women portrayed in those old books. They tended to be a bit on the passive side. And even today, if you read action/adventure novels, you still come across female characters who seem to have no role other than to be rescued by the hero, scream in a firefight and tend to the wounded.

I wanted to read about women who would do their ownrescuing. If they screamed in a firefight it would be more by way of a war cry, and they would be more likely to deal outwounds than have to deal with them, thank you very much.

That was when the character of Charlie Fox really started to come to life in my head. I wasn’t sure, when I first began to write about her, that other people would have the same desire to read about such a strong, no-nonsense heroine. Fortunately, they did and still do—BAD TURN: Charlie Fox #13 is just out. So far, the series has seen Charlie go from teaching people to defend themselves in a northern English city to working for a top New York close-protection agency. Although, this time out her employer—as well as her motivations—are a little harder to fathom.

It bugs me a little that I have to use the word ‘strong’ to describe Charlie. To me, she’s a capable woman who happens to work in a very male-dominated field. To succeed, she’s got to be not simply as good as the men, but demonstrably better. There’s no reason why she can’t be as skilled with weapons or why she can’t have the same mind-set as the guys she works alongside. No reason why she can’t fight on equal terms, either.

Read the whole post over on Chapter In My Life.

BAD TURN Blog Tour – Day8 – Jen loves a good thriller

Today is Day 8 of the Blog Tour for BAD TURN, and today is another review stop, this time with the excellent Jen Lucas of Jen Med’s Book Reviews. And wow, what a great review! I’m thrilled by her take on the character and the story.

Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for the thirteenth Charlie Fox nove from Zoë Sharp, Bad Turn. My thanks to Ayo Onatade for inviting me to take part and to the author for providing an advance copy for review.

My Thoughts

Oh how I do love a good action/thriller story, and one with a strong female lead is always an added bonus. Charlie Fox has to rate up there as one of those brilliant characters I can’t wait to hear more about. She is strong, determined, principled, sometimes helped along by a little luck, but more often than not saved by her own quick thinking and ultimate skill. I may have been late to the party, but I’m enjoying catching up. So when I heard that there was a new book on the horizon, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. And what a book it is.

Everything has changed for Charlie and when we meet up with her again she is down on her luck. Out of a job, she is living the . relative quiet life as a house sitter. Quiet that is, until she happens upon an ambush in the middle of nowhere and finds herself caught up in an unexpected gun fight. One thing leads to another and Charlie’s quick thinking and fast action leads to a job offer that she cannot afford to turn down. But nothing is quite as it seems with either Charlie, or the woman she is employed to protect and what follows is a mixture of mystery, action and high tension thrills that kept me hooked from the start to the finish of the book.

I really love the character of Charlie Fox. Author Zoë Sharp has created such a believable and, ultimately, likeable character that you absolutely want to go on an adventure with her. She is not infallible, capable of making the same mistakes as any other woman on the planet, especially when it comes to her feelings, but she is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to her skills in protection and defence. You can tell the author’s own experience, training and research has been put to perfect use here, giving you just enough explanation to put you, as the reader, in the heart of the action, but not so much as to bore you with the detail. It makes the action sequences more thrilling. Heightens the tension as you can practically feel every blow, hear the ticking of the cogs as Charlie works out how she is going to get out of the mess she is invariably in.

Read the whole of the review over on Jen Med’s Book Reviews.

BAD TURN Blog Tour – Day7 – Karen Cole Highly Recommends!

My Day 7 stop on the Blog Tour following the publication of the thirteenth Charlie Fox crime thriller, BAD TURN last week, is with the splendid Karen Cole at Hair Past A Freckle. Karen read the book to review for today’s post. I always wait for the verdict with bated breath…

I think it’s safe to say she quite liked it!

I’m thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for Bad Turn today, many thanks to Zoë Sharp and to Ayoola Onatade from for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

I loved the previous Charlie Fox story, Fox Hunter and have been eagerly awaiting her return in Bad Turn. This is the thirteenth book in the series but Zoë Sharp certainly hasn’t let her protagonist stagnate and I was looking forward to discovering what she would be up to this time around.

At the start of the book she has reached a crossroads in her career having quit her job in close protection with Armstrong-Meyer. Unfortunately the position also came with an apartment—and her former boss, Parker Armstrong had rubber-stamped her Green Card and firearms licence. Having been essentially blacklisted from the world of close protection, she is house—and cat—sitting in rural New Jersey. However, trouble has a habit of finding Charlie and when she becomes involved in the attempted kidnapping of Helena Kincaid, the wife of billionaire arms dealer, Eric, she quickly realises she has little choice but to accept the position she is offered working with the Kincaids as Helena’s protection.

It soon transpires that although the world of arms dealers is a shady one, the major players had at least reached an agreement to not involve their loved ones in their dealings. Therefore, the foiled ambush on Helena could trigger a war between some very dangerous people. Helena’s response to her new bodyguard is intriguing and not what I expected at all. After a terrifying encounter which resulted in bloodshed on both sides, it would have been understandable for her to be grateful for the reassurance of a highly trained companion but the situation with Mrs Kincaid isn’t that straightforward. At first she isn’t a particularly likeable character but revelations about her upbringing and her past experiences help to explain her attitude and I thought the relationship between the two women was absolutely fascinating.

Read the rest of Karen’s review on Hair Past A Freckle.

BAD TURN Blog Tour Day6 – Changes Through the Series

Today is Day 6 of the Blog Tour, and I’m over at By The Letter Book Reviews, the guest of the marvellous Sarah Hardy. I’m talking about changes that have taken place through the series.

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I’ve always said that when you write a continuing protagonist in a long-running series, you have to make a choice right from the beginning how much you’re going to allow them to change.

Keeping them static does have its distinct advantages, I must admit. For one thing, it doesn’t matter which book a new reader picks up first, as they’re not going to encounter any big spoilers for earlier stories. It’s also a lot easier for the character not to age significantly, although I think most readers accept that book-time works at a far slower rate than real time.

When I began writing the Charlie Fox series, I knew right from the outset that Charlie herself was going to develop and grow from book to book. Part of the fascination with the character for me is being able to set her personal as well as professional challenges in each story. I like to take her on a personal journey—one that she will learn from and grow in some way—quite apart from the dramatic events of the book.

At the beginning of the series, in KILLER INSTINCT, Charlie was not yet working as the close-protection specialist she later becomes. She was still very much an amateur when it came to her involvement with crime. By that I mean that she didn’t work for any kind of agency, private or government, who were paid to investigate. She gets caught up in events and has to deal with them as best she can to find a way out, protect the people she cares for, and to survive. It turns out to be very good training for what comes later.

Charlie is a little more raw at that point in her life, she’s still looking for direction and purpose after being kicked off the Special Forces training course she’d fought her way onto, and then being thrown out of the army altogether. At the start of that story she’s on the way back up from her lowest ebb, and I included a nod to her then-job working nightclub security in the latest outing, BAD TURN.

Read the rest of this article over on By The Letter Book Reviews.

BAD TURN Blog Tour Day5 – Talking Location with TripFiction

Day 5 of the Blog Tour for BAD TURN and today I’m the guest of the terrific Tina Hartas at TripFiction, recalling my visit to rural New Jersey and why I felt the state made a great location for the opening scenes of the book.

New Jersey may be the sixth smallest state in the US but it certainly punches above its weight when it comes to a reputation for corruption and crime. After all, it was home to Tony Soprano, and while I acknowledge that the Soprano family home on Stag Trail Road was fictional, North Caldwell NJ was not. What better state to locate my own international arms dealer with possible ties to the darker side of the trade?

Before I got out and started exploring, all I had really seen of the place was the inside of Newark Airport, parts of Jersey City, and the train ride under the Hudson to Penn Station. I admit that these areas were probably not really New Jersey’s best side, although the view across the river from Jersey City to Manhattan Island was quite something.

It was a pleasure, therefore, to rent a car and drive out west from Newark into the rural farmland that makes up so much of the state. I passed signs for places that I’m used to seeing at home in the UK—Bedminster, Tewksbury, Bloomsbury and Hampton—just not in that order.

Once I got off the main 78 highway, I found myself on winding roads bordered by woods and fields. The traffic thinned almost to nothing. And my mind, as it tends to do, turned to thoughts of…ambushes.

Read the rest of this post over on TripFiction.