Zoё Sharp grabs hold of the reader's throat in the first sentence of the Charlie Fox debut thriller, and never lets go. I was caught with the opening sentence, "For the third time that morning I shut my eyes tight in the absolute and certain knowledge that I was just about to die." Sharp, and Charlie, surprise the reader from page one, and continue the suspense and surprise throughout this gripping book.

Charlie Fox is a British ex-army bodyguard, loyal and protective to a fault. She accompanies Sean Mayer, owner of an exclusive close-protection agency, to Florida to protect a software developer and his teenage son. Charlie views Trey Pelzner as just a spoiled, bratty kid, but he's her responsibility. When she and Trey are shot at while at an amusement park, and bystanders are shot, she knows she's in deep trouble. When she and Trey return to his house, only to find the whole household, including Sean, have disappeared, she knows they're in worse trouble than she thought. How do you deal with unknown gunmen, crooked cops, and the disappearance of your mentor? Who do you trust in a foreign country, when it's you and a fifteen-year-old against the world?

First Drop starts with a breathless feeling, and never lets up. As Charlie and Trey attempt to escape from unknown danger, they must continue to hide, steal a motorbike, shoot it out with dangerous strangers. When they find themselves on the news, Charlie realize they're endangering the few people willing to help them. Charlie never knows from what direction the danger might come. She only knows she must protect Trey, at any cost. From the first to last page, Sharp makes Charlie deal with twists and turns of fate.

Sharp's descriptions of spring break in Daytona, and the dangers of the Everglades are perfect. She creates a believable environment for Charlie, and makes Charlie Fox come to life. Gradually, she reveals Charlie's past and her motivation, her reasons for taking on a bodyguard job, and the ensuing responsibilities. Charlie Fox is a tough, kick-ass woman with the motivation to protect the defenseless.

Lee Child is quoted on the cover of First Drop, and appropriately so. Charlie Fox is cut from the same cloth as Child's Jack Reacher. She'll always put herself out there to protect her charge, even if she has to kill to do it.

Note of Interest: Zoё Sharp's second Charlie Fox thriller, Second Shot, is due out in September, and Sharp plans a whirlwind tour of the U.S. to promote the book. Hopefully, she'll be appearing at one of the Glendale Libraries that month, so if you're in the Glendale, AZ and Phoenix area, watch this blog. I'll post the details when arrangements have been made.

Zoё Sharp's website is www.zoesharp.com

First Drop by Zoё Sharp. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2004, ISBN 978-0-312-34169-5 (hardcover), 296p

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