Monday, January 7, 2008

Zoë Sharp's "Second Shot"

Zoë Sharp's professional writing career began in 2001 with Killer Instinct, the first Charlie Fox book. This novel was followed by Riot Act (2002), Hard Knocks (2003), and First Drop (UK 2004; US, 2005), which earned a nomination for a Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel. The fifth Charlie Fox book is Road Kill (2005), and the latest is Second Shot. Another Charlie Fox book, Third Strike, will be out in summer 2008.

Sharp applied the "Page 99 Test" to Second Shot and reported the following:
Whether page 99 of my Charlie Fox crime thriller, Second Shot, gives you a real insight into the rest of the book, partly depends on which version of it you read. The layout of the UK and US editions differ a lot - the UK book is 396 pages, but the US one is a slender 278, even though the story is exactly the same give or take some differences in spelling. So, in the UK Second Shot, page 99 has Charlie accompanying the woman she’s protecting, Simone, and Simone’s young daughter, Ella, on a tour of Boston, stopping off at Boston Common for what seems like a harmless walk in the park.

In the US Second Shot, however, the story is much further advanced. Simone has already met up with the man claiming to be her estranged father, Greg Lucas, and she and Ella have travelled up to his home in New Hampshire, despite Charlie’s misgivings on the subject. By page 99, Ella is just getting to know her step-grandmother, who is letting her mess around in the kitchen, making cookies under Charlie’s watchful eye.

But do either of these pages give you a real feel for the book? Honestly? No, I don’t think they do. A page or two further on in the UK book and Charlie has to rush Simone and Ella away from a man who approaches them while they’re building a snowman on the Common. A page earlier in the US book, and Charlie’s on the phone with her boss, Sean, who’s back in London, learning all about Lucas’s violent past as an SAS instructor. Either of those, I would have said, would give you a better idea of Charlie’s character and how protective she feels towards her principals. This is particularly true of four-year-old Ella, who becomes the focus for all Charlie’s bodyguarding skills as the story reaches its conclusion.
Read an excerpt from Second Shot and learn more about the author and her books at Zoë Sharp's website.

--Marshal Zeringue