[Originally published on It’s a crime! on June 27, 2008. Re-issued due to site page issues.]
Charlie Fox, ex-Special Forces soldier turned bodyguard, storm-troops into her seventh outing in rip-roaring style, in what transpires to be her most personal of missions. From previous cases, we know that there is no love lost between Charlie and her parents, her father Richard Foxcroft in particular. He has never approved of having a trained killer for a daughter, believing that this will ultimately lead to her own destruction. Indeed, so great has his disapproval been in both her choice of career and of partner, she has long since shortened her name from Foxcroft to further disassociate themselves as family.
In Third Strike, we find Charlie and her partner – both personal and business – based in New York, caught in a spiral of destruction in which her eminent surgeon father stands to lose either his reputation or his wife. Great though he feels the threat to be, he still chooses not to seek help from Charlie, although he, too, is in New York when news breaks of his plight. An ironic touch here – Charlie learns of her father’s potential fall from grace whilst working out on a treadmill with the television news on as background. After an almost fatal injury in her previous mission, which could so easily have proved Foxcroft right in his belief of the damage she would cause herself, it is during the body-strengthening physio she is undertaking that she realises that she is the one who can help the very person who despises the work she does.
As Charlie and her partner, Sean Meyer face opposition from her father, the very man they need to help, they have an uphill struggle trying to discover why someone is out to disgrace Foxcroft. When eventually they glean enough information to realise that her mother is potentially in very real danger, they race back to England with guns blazing in an attempt to win the first battle, in this most personal of wars. Third Strike by title, but the seventh strike in what is proving the most addictive of series to emerge from the current English contingent of crime writers. Imaginative plots and a new location each time keep the series fresh and varied; the jacket blurb promises ”super-charged action and a high speed plot”, and Third Strike more than fulfils. If you are already a fan, you will love this new instalment; if Zoë Sharp is a new name for you, miss this one at your peril, as they say!