FOX FIVE: a Charlie Fox short story collection
FOX FIVE is an anthology (or should that be e-thology?) of stories all featuring ex-Special Forces soldier turned self-defence expert and bodyguard, Charlie Fox. Four stories have been published elsewhere in highly-praised anthologies and prestigious outlets such as Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
In 'A Bridge Too Far', we meet Charlie before sheís become a professional in the world of close protection. When she agrees to hang out with the local Dangerous Sports Club, she has no idea it will soon live up to its name.
'Postcards From Another Country' has Charlie guarding the ultra-rich Dempsey family against attempted assassination − no matter where the danger lies.
A finalist for the CWA Short Story Dagger, 'Served Cold' puts another tough woman centre stage − the mysterious Layla, with betrayal in her past and murder in her heart.
'Off Duty' finds Charlie taking time away from close protection after injury. She still finds trouble, even in an out-of-season health spa in the Catskill Mountains.
'Truth And Lies' is a brand new 11,500-word tale in which Charlie has to single-handedly extract a news team from a rapidly escalating war zone.
Also included: Excerpt from KILLER INSTINCT: Charlie Fox book one, Meet Charlie Fox, Meet ZoŽ Sharp, info on the other books in the Charlie Fox series.
Bonus material includes an excerpt from KILLER INSTINCT and a taster of each of the ten books in the Charlie Fox series to date.
Praise for FOX FIVE
'. . . about as good as it gets in the crime thriller genre. Sharp writes cleanly, cleverly and convincingly as she spins these tales . . .'
'This five-pack collection of short stories is about as good as it gets in the crime thriller genre. Protagonist Charlotte "Charlie" Fox is a truly memorable − not to mention formidable − heroine. Author Sharp writes cleanly, cleverly, and convincingly as she spins these tales of Charlie, ex Special Forces soldier turned "close-protection" bodyguard.
'The stories here are arranged in sequence and follow Charlie as she progresses from a time just prior to becoming a bodyguard to a point where her professional skills are honed to their finest − and must be, as they are put to the test in circumstances as explosively dangerous and up-to-the-minute as today's headlines. This range and growth allows us to see Charlie in a quieter, almost sleuth-like mode early on and then evolve into the calculating, ultimately cool − yet compassionate − protector she was born to be.
'Perhaps the strongest entry in this collection is focused somewhat less on Charlie than on a woman named Layla, a disturbed soul hell bent on a mission that Charlie, in the end, must try to keep from succeeding. The back story on Layla and her deceased lover Bobby is troubling, brutal yet hauntingly poignant.
'In the end, though, it is Charlie Fox and the stiletto-sharp (no pun intended) writing skills of ZoŽ Sharp that will stick with you after reading these stories. I was unaware of this excellent series (there are nine novels so far, a tenth due in 2012) before now; but you can damn well bet I will be seeking out more. Highly recommended!'
'The author, who has written, among other things, nine books in the acclaimed Charlie Fox series, has now published in e-book form what is termed an "e-thology," a collection of five short stories, and an excellent addition it surely is.
'The first, A Bridge Too Far, is, appropriately enough, the very first short story ever written featuring the ex-Special Forces soldier turned self-defense expert/bodyguard, Charlotte ["Charlie"] Fox, whose background further includes teaching self-defense classes for women before ultimately working in "close protection." The plot deals with members of a Dangerous Sports Club who engage in activities which justify its name. The action takes place on a morning in May in Lancashire, in the UK, described, in the author's typically wonderful prose, as an hour when "the last of the dawn mist clung to the dips and hollows [of the valley], and was quiet enough to hear the world turning." Lest this peaceful scene lull the reader, the tale concludes with a stunning ending.
'The second story, Postcards from Another Country, was the second Charlie Fox short story, fittingly, and deals with Charlie's employment by an old-money family, the titular country being "the world of the very wealthy." Close protection in that milieu is more of a challenge than usual, as Charlie finds when she is hired after a failed murder attempt on the male head of the family, whose members have come to believe that money is the answer to everything.
'The next tale, Served Cold, was nominated for the CWA Short Story Dagger Award in 2009. The only one in the collection where Charlie is not front and center, its protagonist is a waitress and stripper.
'In Off Duty, the fourth Charlie Fox short story, the incidents there recounted were originally intended for inclusion in the US edition of Book #6, Second Shot, but ultimately not used as such, and is a sort of lead-in to Book #7, Third Strike.
'Truth and Lies, the concluding piece, was written especially for this "e-thology." The reader is treated to author notes prefacing each short story, giving insights into its origins, as well as bonus material at the end, with biographical details on the author and her masterful creation, Charlie Fox, all of which just makes the reader look forward to the next novel in the series [working title Die Easy] that much more. Highly recommended.'
'In true Sharp style these short stories are succinct, thought-provoking . . . Charlie is a character I truly enjoy reading about.'
'I have read all Lee Child's Reacher books (in print) sometimes more than once, and honestly while the stories and situations boggle my mind and are really clever, my preference is still Charlie Fox. I've been a fan for several years ever since I found Riot Act and Hard Knocks (in the paperback section of my local library) and decided to take a chance on an author unknown to me − I'm so glad I did.
'In true Sharp style these short stories are succinct, thought-provoking, and for me fill in gaps and explain references throughout the Charlie Fox series. Charlie is a character I truly enjoy reading about; witnessing her development and understanding and acceptance of her background and skills just adds to my connection to the stories.
'Even though the books can be read as standalones, when I find a character I like, I want to read everything available − so I've entered the world of Kindle for PC. Although I'm definitely a dedicated real book person, I've enjoyed being able to change the background, contrast, and page display. The only downside is that I'm anchored to the computer − just as well these are short stories!
'I definitely recommend Fox Five, eagerly await Die Easy and in the meantime, am sorely tempted by the opportunity to purchase the entire Charlie Fox series as e-books.'
'Highly recommended for fans of strong female leads, action, and solid mystery.'
'Fans of ZoŽ Sharpís Charlie Fox series will not be disappointed in this e-anthology. For readers who have not yet met the character through Sharpís full-length novels, this anthology will be a perfect introduction. The stories work well as standalones, filling in part of the action between the books without giving away details that would spoil them.
'This collection includes five short stories: four following Charlie herself, and one following a character moving through Charlieís world. Throughout, Sharpís crisp, intelligent writing, clever turns of phrase, and brisk plotting kept me thoroughly engaged. I love books that have strong leading characters; itís what makes things interesting for me.
'Charlie is the very definition of a strong leading character. Sheís no-nonsense, smart, and tough. I love that she has both brains and brawn, but knows that brains should always come first. Sheís observant. Sheís able to improvise. She knows when to act. But most of all, sheís human. Charlie may encounter and participate in some very violent situations, but she never revels in the violence, and she always understands the cost. I think that the story ďTruth and LiesĒ perfectly exemplifies all the facets of this character that I love, so please check it out.
'Highly recommended for fans of strong female leads, action, and solid mystery.'