ABSENCE OF LIGHT: a Charlie Fox novella
A major earthquake sees ex-Special Forces soldier-turned-bodyguard Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox on a transport plane headed for the scene of devastation.
The way things are coming apart at home with Sean Meyer, she welcomes the chance to get away.
Tasked as security advisor to the specialist team at the centre of relief efforts, Charlie knows it won’t be easy. The team members are willing to put themselves in constant danger as a matter of course. But what kind of other risks are they prepared to take?
ZoŽ Sharp and Charlie Fox both kick ass
Best-selling crime author, Mark Billingham
As Charlie soon discovers, it’s not just the ground beneath her feet that cannot be relied on. Her predecessor died conveniently while investigating rumours that the team were on the take, Charlie’s been instructed to quietly uncover whether his death was as accidental as the official verdict suggests. If it was an accident, why are they so obviously lying to her?
Charlie must move with care through a shifting landscape to find the answers before there are more than just earthquake victims buried in the rubble. And when disaster strikes she will learn not only whom she can trust, but whether she can she survive the darkness that comes with a total absence of light.
From the author's notebook
For some time now I’ve been kicking around the idea of setting a book around the activities of a rescue and recovery team working as first responders after some kind of major natural disaster. It would be a fully international group, each with his or her very personal reasons for wanting to do this kind of work. I’d put together some character sketches and that was as far as I’d got.
Then in the summer of 2013 two things happened. The first was that I decided to write a novella featuring Charlie Fox and I needed a suitable situation for her to be plunged into that somehow felt different to the longer books in the series. I’d left Charlie and Sean’s relationship in a precarious state at the end of the previous instalment, DIE EASY: Charlie Fox book ten. I already had an idea of where the next book was going, but I wanted to bridge the gap between the two, and a novella seemed an ideal way to do it.
The second happening was hearing about an illustrated lecture being given by a friend, Home Office Pathologist Bill Lawler, at a local venue. The lecture documented Bill’s experiences with the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team which went out to New Zealand after the earthquake in Christchurch in 2011, to help recover, identify and reconcile the victims of that disaster. Hearing and seeing the fascinating details from such an expert clinched it, and ABSENCE OF LIGHT really began to take shape.
Obviously, Rescue & Recovery International do not exist, and in fact their brief is greater in scope than that of the standard DVI teams, but it’s the job of an author to take reality and ask, “What if Ö?” at every available opportunity. So, that’s what I’ve done here.
And while Charlie leaves the R&R team behind at the end of this book, I have a feeling that one day I might just return to find out how they’re getting on.