Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Zoë Sharp's "Die Easy"

Zoë Sharp’s crime thriller series features former British Special Forces soldier turned bodyguard heroine, Charlie Fox. Sharp’s work has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Barry, Benjamin Franklin, and Macavity Awards in the United States, as well as a CWA Short Story Dagger.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to Die Easy, the latest book in the Charlie Fox series, and reported the following:
Die Easy finds Charlie Fox professionally at the top of her game, but with her personal life in ruins. Her lover, bodyguard Sean Meyer, has woken from a gunshot-induced coma with his memory in tatters. A celebrity fundraising event in post-Katrina New Orleans should have been a chance for them both to take things nice and slow. Fate, however, has other ideas when an ambitious robbery explodes into a deadly hostage situation. And this time Charlie can’t rely on Sean to watch her back…

Page 99 comes right at the end of chapter twenty-two, after the pair have survived a helicopter crash that was far from accidental. It is an important moment in the story, as it marks the first time the newly distanced Sean reaches out in any way to his forgotten former love, and she is forced to explain to him why she does what she does.

From Page 99:
Now, I shrugged, hunted for words I didn’t have and suspected probably did not exist.

“I do it because … it’s who I am,” I said at last, and saw a frustrated gesture forming at what he assumed was a throwaway answer. “No, let me finish, Sean. You told me once that I was perfect for Special Forces—that Colonel Parris was a fool to let me go. But he did let me go—with a boot up my backside to help me on my way.” I still remembered that conversation with Sean, every word of it. OK, so I’d had to pull a gun to get him to sit still long enough to listen. But listen he did—in the end.

Looking at his face now I knew he had absolutely no recall of it.

I sighed. “Close protection is about the nearest I can get to that life and still live with myself.” I tried a smile. “The nearest I can get without ending up in prison, that is.”

I remembered, too, a lecture from my father some time ago. After Sean and I had reunited, after I’d headed down the road which led me here. Up to that point, the deaths on my hands had all been judged justified. But what would happen, he wanted to know, when it all became so easy—so second nature—that I took a life I couldn’t justify?

“If you stay involved with Sean Meyer you will end up killing again,” my father said. “And next time, Charlotte, you might not get away with it.”

“Out there today, pinned down in that crashed helo with the fuel pouring out of it and taking fire”—Sean shook his head as if to clear it—“I was fucking terrified, if I’m honest.”

“And you think I wasn’t?”

“If you were, you hid it bloody well.”

“Just because you couldn’t see it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t there,” I said. “Fear helps keep you alive—if you use it rather than let it use you. It’s what tempers recklessness, makes you think through an action, however briefly, before you do it.”

“I was close to losing control,” he admitted abruptly, unconvinced.

I reached out then, tentative, put a hand on his bare forearm and tried to ignore the fizz of contact through every nerve. Hairs riffled along my own arms, but the touch also set off a more basic chain-reaction that pooled in my belly. I tried to ignore it.

“Everybody with half a brain is scared under fire,” I told him. “What matters is how you deal with it.”
Learn more about the author and her work at Zoë Sharp’s website, blog, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Third Strike.

The Page 69 Test: Fifth Victim.

Writers Read: Zoë Sharp (March 2012).

My Book, The Movie: Fifth Victim.

Writers Read: Zoë Sharp.

--Marshal Zeringue