It’s always a great thrill to receive a review on one of my books from a fellow author. This one came in a few days ago from US mystery author, Randy Overbeck. He emailed, opening with the words ‘I finished Fox Hunter and really loved it. Your best yet, I think.’
Here’s Randy’s review:
‘I’ve been a fan of thriller writer Zoë Sharp for years and have read several of her books, enjoying every one, especially the Charlie Fox series. Just to name a few, in First Drop, she took her readers on a dizzying roller coaster ride in the middle of an assassination attempt of a teen Charlie is guarding, and in Road Kill readers get strapped in for an electrifying ride atop a few sleek motorcycles when Charlie infiltrates a biker gang, almost becoming road kill herself in the process.
‘But in Fox Hunter, the latest in the series, Sharp has outdone herself. In this twelfth entry, Charlie Fox is sent on a mission to rescue—or apprehend—her old mentor and lover, Sean Meyer, who may have gone off the reservation and tortured and killed a man from their mutual past. A man Charlie has every reason to be glad is dead.
‘Her search takes her from the scorched landscapes of the Iraqi desert and up to the snowy mountains of Bulgaria. Along the way she encounters a Russian hit squad, an Iraqi teen raped and then disfigured and abandoned by her own family, black market antiquities smugglers and a former client, a major crime boss. One aspect that makes Ms. Sharp’s writing so sterling is her ability to transport the reader vividly to the settings of her narratives, whether it be the sights and smells of Disney World in First Drop or the twisting switchbacks of the Irish countryside in Road Kill.
‘In Fox Hunter, the scenes of the desert are real, I swear I could feel the hot sun and the grit of the sand in my face (and it was in the middle of a freezing January). Of course, my teeth practically chattered when I was riding alongside Charlie atop a snowmobile up the frozen slopes to a mountain fortress.
‘Did I mention that Charlie Fox is one tough broad? There’s a reason why Lee Child calls Charlie Fox a female Jack Reacher.
‘If you’ve not yet had a chance to discover this brilliant British writer, you’ve been missing some really great rides. And Fox Hunter would be a great place to start. But so would First Drop or Die Easy or Hard Knocks. You get the picture. By all means, if you want a thriller with a kick-ass heroine, add Zoë Sharp to your list of must reads.’
Nice review in Publishers Weekly for the new Sherlock Holmes anthology, FOR THE SAKE OF THE GAME. I have a Charlie Fox story included, which is my take on the HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, called ‘Hounded’.
For the Sake of the Game: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon
“This intriguing novel is a departure from Sharp’s acclaimed Charlie Fox thrillers, as this ‘standalone’ narrative has an opening that is as powerful as it is insightful and disturbing.
“Newly qualified Crime Scene Investigator Grace McColl and DC Nick Weston are called out to investigate a shooting. On the first time they meet, they consider that there is something more complicated about this case, something troubling.
“It seems that there is a killer stalking the Lake District; one who carries a Gun.
“Nick Weston’s past has brought him to Cumbria, transferred from London. He is not welcomed by his police colleagues. They are wary of him, as he is an outsider. Grace is also an outsider; committed to her job—she is an intelligent woman who has something to prove, as there is a shadow in her past, one that requires redemption.
“The working relationship and chemistry between Grace and Nick is finely drawn, with excellent characterisation and observation, making the reader ponder if this is the start of a new series.
“The secondary characters are equally well developed including Edith, a lonely, unloved—and in some ways an unlovable teenager; and then there is the deeply troubled Patrick.”
To read the whole review on Shotsmag, click here.
I’m delighted to get this review of DANCING ON THE GRAVE from crime writer Niki Mackay, author of the brilliant I, WITNESS. She said, “I haven’t updated my blog for ages, and I haven’t reviewed as I found myself in a bit of a reading slump! This absolute belter from Zoë Sharp put an end to said slump.”
This story, interestingly, starts with an animal death rather than a human one. A local VIP’s dog no less and this unusual crime is a catalyst straight into the action.
We meet Grace, a diligent CSI collecting evidence, then Detective Nick Weston. They realise early on that the weapon used ought not to have been available and both are determined to get to the bottom of it. A jagged tale of secrets and suspicion builds from this point. They are hindered by the powers-that-be but start to get taken more seriously when someone starts shooting and killing people, and it becomes apparent that the killer is a highly trained sniper.
‘Dancing on the Grave’ is a pacey, well-plotted crime novel with all the twists and red-herrings you would expect from the genre. It has an almost old-fashioned feel to it, and yet everything has a contemporary spin. I think this is achieved not just by the very current issue of shooter crimes, but also by Zoë Sharp’s obvious insight into human psychology and her exploration of themes such as PTSD, loneliness, neglect, and eating disorders.
Today is the very last stop on the #BlogTour for the latest standalone crime thriller, DANCING ON THE GRAVE. Today I’m the guest of Sean Talbot at Sean’s Book Reviews. Short and sweet…and long. He makes an interesting comment about the length of the book. What are your feelings on the subject? Is there an optimum length for a crime novel, or does it depend on the type?
This book was good and had a lot of intricacies in (the) plot. I like the main character and think it was well written.
(I was) concerned with only one thing and that’s the length of the book. It seems that more and more books have to be over 400 pages which to me is very long for a crime book. I prefer shorter reads where we get to the meat of the story right away.
Well, we’ve reached the antepenultimate day of the #BlogTour for DANCING ON THE GRAVE. It’s been a blast so far. And that continued when I read the following opinion from top reviewer LJ Roberts on It Is Purely My Opinion. Yet another call for this standalone to be the first in a new series…
Dancing on the Grave by Zoë Sharp
First Sentence: It was a bad day to die…a perfect one to kill.
Newly-qualified crime scene investigator Grace (McColl) is trying to prove herself after making a disastrous mistake on a previous case. Detective Constable Nick Weston has just been transferred to the Lake District after nearly dying during an investigation in London. Neither of them can understand why they’ve been called out on a dog having been shot except for the presence of a local (MEP)’s wife. Upon examining the dog, it’s clear the shooter wasn’t the local farmer. But why is there a trained sniper in the area, and who was the real target?
It is difficult to say much about this book without giving away spoilers. My best recommendation is to read it cold without having looked at any information about the plot, impossible as that may be. And so…
An excellent opening is one which compels one to continue reading. Zoë Sharp has accomplished that goal in spades with her new standalone which is a remarkable combination of police procedural and psychological thriller.
Read the rest of the review here.
Well, we’re on the home straight with the #BlogTour for the new standalone, DANCING ON THE GRAVE, and I’m delighted to be hosted, yet again, by gracious New Zealander, Judith Baxter, on her Books And More Books blog. I also did a Q&A with Judith over on her Growing Younger Each Day blog, on July 18.
If you have read any of my blog posts in the past, you will be aware that I am a fan of Zoë Sharp and a stalker of Charlie Fox the protagonist in her series. If you haven’t made contact with Charlie, I strongly recommend you do so now.
And now I have been given an advance copy of Zoë’s latest novel, a standalone called Dancing on the Grave.
“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: ‘Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.’” So says master storyteller, Stephen King.
And the opening line in Dancing on the Grave by Zoë Sharp certainly does this. Her opening line? It is a bad day to die…a perfect one to kill.
Read the full review here.
It’s my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for DANCING ON THE GRAVE by Zoë Sharp today, many thanks to the author and Ayo Onatade for inviting me and for my e-copy of the novel. Zoë has very kindly written a guest post about why she chose to set Dancing On The Grave in the Lake District and included some beautiful photographs which I’ll share after my review.
I loved FOX HUNTER when I read it last year despite not having read any of the other books in Zoë Sharp’s Charlie Fox series and so I was intrigued to read her latest standalone thriller, DANCING ON THE GRAVE. The book opens with a sniper about to take a shot; seconds later his intended victim has been killed—but he didn’t pull the trigger. This quiet corner of England is about to be shattered by a murderous rampage but first Crime Scene Investigator, Grace McColl has been called to examine the scene of what at first appears to be a straightforward case when a German Shepherd Dog is shot after massacring a field of sheep. Farmers are well within their rights to shoot dogs which are worrying their animals but the owner of this flock claims it wasn’t him and the evidence backs him up. Detective Constable Nick Weston is dispatched to the scene of the crime—and as the new face in the office, his colleagues omit to mention that the victim has four legs and a tail. This first meeting between Grace and Nick doesn’t have an auspicious start; she is cool and detached, he is hungover and angry. However, the pair quickly grow to respect one another, they are both outsiders and though he relies on instinct while she prefers physical evidence, they are both determined characters with pasts which mean they have something to prove as others wait for them to slip up.
Read the rest of Karen Cole’s excellent review here. And also my article on the locations behind the book:
A Plot Leads To a Plot—why I chose the Lake District setting for Dancing On The Grave: a standalone crime thriller
I ended up living in the Lake District more by chance than anything else. We’d been looking for land to build our own house, and when a plot came up in Mallerstang, part of the Eden Valley bordering the Yorkshire Dales National Park on the eastern side of the Lakes, I couldn’t believe our luck.
Previously, we’d lived in Kendal and whilst building rented a flat in Appleby-in-Westmorland, so I spent quite a bit of time in the surrounding towns and villages. The more time I spent there, the more I really wanted to set a book in that lesser-known area of the Lakes.
After the Washington Sniper attacks took place in the States in 2002, I’d been mulling over the plot involving a similar incident in a rural location in the UK. The wild areas of Orton Scar (which is how it’s known locally—officially it’s the Great Asby Scar National Nature Reserve) and Orton village itself with its distinctive white-towered church, seemed to cry out for dramatisation.
Read the rest of the blog post article after the review here.
Day8 of the #BlogTour for the new standalone, DANCING ON THE GRAVE, and yet another call for this to be the start of a new series, this time from Liz Barnsley at Liz Loves Books. This is giving me serious food for thought…
“A departure from the Charlie Fox series here in what I hope is the start of a new series from Zoë Sharp as I loved this and found the characters highly relatable.
“It is in trademark style an intriguing and pacy thriller, some emotive and socially relevant themes explored and a great mystery element with a headline feel.”
Read the rest of Liz’s review here.
…about DANCING ON THE GRAVE being a standalone novel. She’s rooting for this to be the first instalment in a series, and I keep saying I’m not ruling that out! Huge thanks to Jen Lucas for her thoughtful and thought-provoking review on Jen Med’s Book Reviews, which is Day7 of the #BlogTour.
Now I love me a good action thriller and if there is one thing that Zoë Sharp knows how to do (and trust me there are actually many), it is how to write a bloody good action thriller. Her Charlie Fox series is fabulous and her sense of pace, energy, tension and plain old-fashioned, top-notch storytelling is superb. Dancing on the Grave is absolutely no exception.
Now if you are of a sensitive nature and don’t like crimes against animals then this may not be the book for you as it starts in a rather gruesome way. Gruesome yes, but also essential as it sets us up for everything that is to come. It is a very clever and very effective opening giving us a hint as to what is about to happen but also leaving some ambiguity over who the sniper’s target may be and leaving us completely clueless over what their motives are too. But the ending of that opening chapter…well I certainly wasn’t expecting that. Massive curveball. Loved it.
It’s a tough review to write as I don’t want to delve much into story. You need to go on this journey for yourselves. The action is fast paced, the story moving between target and between characters as needed, and, as always, the tension that Zoë Sharp produces on the pages is spot on. Those moments of eerie silence echoing the laser-sharp precision of the sniper’s aim, the calming of their heartbeat just as we see an escalation of our own. It had me gripped from the start, desperate to know more and to find out who what why where and when.
To read the whole of Jen’s in-depth review, click here.