RogerBW's Blog

Third Strike, Zoe Sharp 15 October 2014

Seventh thriller in the series about Charlie (Charlotte) Fox, former soldier and current private bodyguard. Charlie's estranged father turns up unexpectedly in the USA, and seems to be bent on professional self-destruction under the eyes of the media. Why?

Well, the answer's pretty obvious really, and fortunately we're not kept hanging around too long waiting for Charlie to catch up. But after some early action there's a long slow burn of investigation of a drug company with an experimental therapy that may be going horribly wrong, or rather of attempts at investigation which mostly turn up nothing. The action scenes feel deliberately spaced out through the book, giving us just enough to keep us going to the next one; I wish Sharp would simply admit that she's not very good at writing non-action scenes, and stop using this padding.

Mostly this plot is an excuse to have Charlie's parents on stage for most of the book, which one would hope might finally resolve some of the issues between them and Charlie. And maybe this has happened, and maybe it hasn't; things are pointing in a positive direction by the end, particularly in terms of Charlie's father starting to understand the sort of person she is and Charlie herself starting to grow up a bit and accept that while he may be a pompous arsehole her father does still turn up at her bedside when she's been shot… but Sharp's got form for discarding welcome developments in future books in order to tell the sort of story she prefers. I fear I'm losing my faith in her willingness to fulfill the big promises she makes, because if Charlie were actually happy then… actually, would that be so bad? Can't a bodyguard be allowed to be happy rather than alternating "oh, I've been shot, I hurt" with "oh, I have no emotional maturity, I will agonise for ages over telling X about Y"?

It all goes by agreeably enough, but doesn't leave much in the way of a lasting impression. Followed by Fourth Day.

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