RogerBW's Blog

Die Easy, Zoë Sharp 05 June 2020

2012 thriller, tenth in the series about Charlie (Charlotte) Fox, former soldier and currently private bodyguard. Charlie's on a new assignment, guarding an old client while he goes on a fundraising trip for a friend's charity. But she's not sure she can trust either her partner or her fellow bodyguards… Spoilers for earlier books in the series.

The basic problem with bodyguarding as a narrative core is that if you want to have exciting things happening your heroine has to go along with it when the principals try to do stupid things. Otherwise both bodyguard and principal are out of there at the first whiff of trouble, or the principal never gets to use that bodyguard firm again. That's been an ongoing niggle in this series, and it doesn't go away here.

The big change, which feels at first like a cheat, is that Charlie's lover Sean has woken up from his book-9 coma with a huge gap in his memories, so that his attitude's been reset to where they were in the very early books: he thought she was responsible for his having been thrown out of the Army, and now suddenly here she is being good at the same things he does and sharing an apartment with him… I thought that this might be the usual writer's error of thinking that established couples are boring and therefore throwing in a disruption, but Sharp's doing a better job than that. Yes, for much of the time Sean is the uncommunicative hard man that he was in those early stories, and one really wonders what Charlie saw in him back then; but it becomes apparent that he's becoming a slightly different person from the one he was first time round, and that is interesting, even if he has never in this series been anything like a sympathetic character.

Oh, and there's the actual mission. Which includes possibly the best helicopter crash I've ever read, and then moves on to the main action, which is basically Die Hard on a boat in the Big Easy. (Thus the title.) There's a certain amount of authorial hand-on-the-scales to keep Charlie disarmed for longer than is entirely reasonable, but naturally she works out what's going on and mostly saves the day. (Because Charlie never gets a complete success.)

I've said before that I think Sharp writes action better than other description, and I continue to feel that way; the story does drag a little at first, apart from that helicopter crash, but once we get on board the boat and things start going horribly wrong it all picks up pace and enthusiasm.

It doesn't hurt that Sharp gets details right. OK, I haven't been a bodyguard or worked with guns, but I know a certain amount about both from research and conversation; and Sharp isn't one of those authors who'd call an Uzi a machine gun or copy-and-paste a description from the catalogue of lethal toys.

It's been a few years since I read one of these; after Fifth Victim and the Fox Five short story collection I rather lost enthusiasm. But whether the books have got better or my taste has shifted, I enjoyed this one a great deal.

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Previous in series: Fox Five | Series: Charlie Fox | Next in series: Absence of Light and Other Stories

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