Second Shot from Zoë Sharp is a Charlie Fox thriller and what a thriller it is too. This is the sixth novel in the series and here Charlie is charged with providing bodyguard services to a recent lottery winner Simone, mother of four year old Ella. Simone is estranged from her partner Matt and is hell-bent on finding her ex-SAS soldier father with whom she lost contact when a child. Simone needs protection as her now tempestuous relationship with Matt following the lottery win makes her life and story wonderfully delicious fodder for the hunt-as-a-pack tabloids. Someone has become quite close to locating Simone's father in the States, but he then dies in suspicious circumstances and it appears that her father wants to remain resolutely hidden, up to a point. When the action moves from London to Boston, Charlie discovers that Simone makes a difficult subject, as she simply cannot grasp the risks she's under…
This is an easy read and a page turner of a novel; the plot competes heavily with the strong characterisations and tetchy relationships to drive you forward. Even minor characters are strong and well drawn. There's a perfect old school City private banker. There's a father-in-jeopardy not about to allow his child to be taken out of his life for good. There's a father who can only function as he does at work: controlling and with clinical precision.
At the centre, there's an engaging, sometimes sweet but always typical four year old caught up in what becomes a maelstrom of events. And it's seeing the impact on young Ella that brings home the reality of the impact of crime on innocent victims.
Like all good crime novels, Second Shot also tests perception versus reality, removing another layer of the onion as the chapters are read. Is all what it seems? Well, you have to read it to find out. Like Charlie, you'll feel protective of Ella and develop a bond with her; she's as strong on the page as she would be in flesh and blood and she grabs you emotionally. At the end of this novel you'll want her to be safe. Is she? Again, you have to read to find out and I hope that you do.
Zoë Sharp has garnered a great following in the US for her novels and it's now time that the UK's crime readership contingent joined the bandwagon in legions. Well, you wouldn't want to miss out, would you?