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Reviews of KILLER INSTINCT: Charlie Fox book one
'The bloody bar fights are bloody brilliant, and Charlie's skills are both formidable and for real.'
Marilyn Stasio, New York Times
'Charlie Fox came on strong in ZoŽ Sharp's early novels but, like a lot of tough girls, softened up with time. Now, thanks to an enterprising small press, we can catch Charlie in the rough. Originally published in 2001, KILLER INSTINCT finds this army-trained martial-arts expert on her first job, working security for a club in an English seaside town. Charlie looks like a made-for-TV model, with her red hair and motorcycle leathers, but Sharp means business. The bloody bar fights are bloody brilliant, and Charlie's skills are both formidable and for real.'
'If I could give this book a perfect 10, I would . . . smooth story telling, excellent story pacing, and credible characters . . . Simply outstanding!'
C J Ellisson, American author and reviewer, www.amazon.com
'I haven't read a traditional thriller novel in years, preferring my newer interest of strong heroines portrayed in urban fantasy novels. I like darker books, not books seeped in romance. Finding a good book is sometimes hard in a genre that mixes the two so much. After a while, those heroines with their supernatural powers and impossible skill sets often become cookie-cutter and formulaic, leaving a reader longing for something more believable, more *real*.
'Look no further than the heroine created by Ms. Sharp. You will quickly slip into her skin and see parts of yourself within her inner complexity. I felt like I walked the streets of Lancaster with her and felt the pain of her past that shaped her into who she is today.
'Charlie Fox is strong and a survivor through and through. She reminds me of Charlaine Harris' Lily Bard, in her popular woman sleuth Shakespeare series (one of two excellent mystery series she wrote before the one based on HBO's True Blood). While Fox's adventures are more bloody, more violent, and more heart stopping than Bard's, my comparison is more due to the smooth story telling, excellent story pacing, and credible characters, which makes the portrayal of these fictional women very real and very believable.
'I raced through the pages eager to see where the writer would take us and how Fox would pull through. Very rarely do I give up an entire day of my life to a book. This one was the exception. I loved it so much I immediately bought a copy for my father and plan to buy the others in the series as well. Ms. Sharp has a fan in me for life and I can hardly wait to read what other adventures she dreams up for Charlie Fox. Simply outstanding!'
'a fascinating look at the introduction of this protagonist . . . as compulsively readable as the later entries in the series . . .'
Gloria Feit, Spinetingler Magazine
'Just having read ZoŽ Sharpís eighth and newest book, Fourth Day, the latest in the Charlie Fox series, I had the additional pleasure of reading the very first book in the series, Killer Instinct. In fact, this was the first novel published by ZoŽ Sharp, in 2001, and now issued for the first time in the United States. It is a fascinating look at the introduction of this protagonist, two years after she was ďasked to leaveĒ the British Army after a traumatic incident that left her physically and emotionally scarred
'Now twenty-five years old, Charlie teaches self-defense to classes of women, many of them victims of abuse and residents of a Womenís Refuge. Shockingly, within a short time frame, two such residents are raped and murdered, with no clue as to the perpetrator. Not yet the proficient ďclose protectionĒ operative she will become, Charlie is nonetheless very capable, using the skills learned in the Army though still without the Killer Instinct of the title.
'Charlie also takes on a part-time job as part of the security staff at the New Adelphi Club, in nearby Morecambe, quite taken with its charismatic owner, but finds it more challenging than anticipated, in unexpected ways. When there is a third killing, Charlie becomes convinced that there is a connection to the club, if not to the rape/murders as well.
'Just as compulsively readable as the later entries in the series, nonetheless I felt this book slightly weaker in two respects: The foreshadowing which ends the first two chapters, as well as the fact that I found myself at least a bit ahead of the protagonist, with the unsettling feeling of waiting for her to catch up. This is a small quibble. Reading the first in the series was delightful, and I am looking forward to the second, Riot Act.'
'. . . a sharp, punchy read . . . one of the most well-defined and convincing series protagonists Iíve encountered in a long time.'
Russel D McLean, Crime Scene Scotland
'Charlieís first appearance [Killer Instinct is the first in the Charlie Fox series] is a long cry from her later stateside adventures (I believe she first crossed the Atlantic in First Drop), set in Northern England, with Charlie teaching self-defence to women and recovering from her dismissal from the armed forces after a horrific sexual assault at the hands of several fellow officers. The novel finds Charlie getting involved in bouncer work for a shady nightclub and crossing paths with a serial rapist and murderer.
'The tone is removed a little from her later adventures, and there is a more "English" hint to Charlieís voice here (perhaps those years spent in the States smoothed out the accent some) which makes it feel very different to the novels that were to come. But itís a solid, very well written debut that shows a lot of promise which Sharp would later fulfil and possibly surpass. The urban English setting is nicely realised, and grimy enough to make the readerís skin crawl on occasion, particularly Charlieís work at the Adelphi Nightclub. And even so early in the series, the action is so well choreographed that you believe every bone crunching impact on the page.
'Killer Instinct is a sharp, punchy read; a brutally confident start to a series that would continue to evolve in the best possible ways. Busted Flush Press are going to be reprinting the early Fox novels over the next year or so, and youíd be well advised to check them out and get acquainted with one of the most well-defined and convincing series protagonists Iíve encountered in a long time.'
'ZoŽ Sharp's Charlie Fox is my favorite woman in the thriller genre.'
Lesa Holstine, Lesa's Book Critiques
'It's hard to review one of ZoŽ Sharp's Charlie Fox thrillers without referring to motorcycles. They're such a part of Charlie's life and the stories, that the phrases spring to mind immediately. David Morrell said "As action packed and streamlined as the Suzuki . . ." Mark Billingham refers to the "high-octane thrills." Killer Instinct is as sleek and fast as everyone says. And, it's a treat to welcome back Charlie Fox.
'If you read First Drop and the other books in the series, published earlier in the U.S., you'll be pleased to finally learn of Charlie's beginnings. And, if you haven't read these books, start with Killer Instinct. It will give you the chance to watch Charlie gain strength and confidence in herself.
'Charlie Fox is still in England in the first book in the series. Killer Instinct tells her backstory. She's been expelled from Special Forces, suffered public humiliation, and, even worse, suffered from the disbelief of her staid parents. She always was rebellious, but, now, she feels rejected by her parents, and refuses to talk to her mother. Charlie's no longer willing to be a victim, so she teaches self-defense to women at a shelter, hoping they'll move on from being victims.
'Unfortunately, Charlie picks the wrong night to visit the New Adelphi Club with a friend, Clare. There's a fight with a woman, Susie Hollins, who competed at karaoke, and Charlie is forced to defend Clare. Charlie's defense lands her a job as security at the club. Is it the new job, Susie's murder, or a laptop that starts the out-of-control spiral in Charlie's life? Somehow the New Adelphi Club seems linked to everything.
'Charlie Fox has already been through the worst experience of her life. Now, it's time for her to show she can deal with violent men and move on with her life. The instincts that would have helped her had she stayed in Special Forces are crucial to her survival as someone threatens and taunts her. One small fight in a club, one woman's murder, will become a threat to too many others if Charlie doesn't learn who is behind the crime wave that seems to engulf her and those around her.
'I tend to read more mysteries than thrillers, but I always read ZoŽ Sharp's books. I appreciate Charlie Fox, a woman who has suffered, but rises above her past, willing to fight for survival. And, as you read these books, you realize Charlie always fights for those who are weaker, as she once was. But, she's no longer a victim. Charlie's an unusual character. If you haven't met Charlie Fox, Killer Instinct will introduce you to a woman just learning her own abilities and strength. ZoŽ Sharp's Charlie Fox is my favorite woman in the thriller genre.'
'Sharp deserves a genre all her own − if you are just discovering ZoŽ Sharp then you are in for a real treat.'
Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine
'When I hear of certain things I get an immediate response, Ice cream: Black Cherry, Peanut Butter: Skippy, Football: Green Bay, favorite soda: Root Beer. Well when I hear Thriller Writers ZoŽ Sharp is always one of the first names I think of. Why? Because she nails it, action with constant forward movement in the plot and characters who you really believe can kick ass.
'Killer Instinct introduces Charlie (Charlotte) Fox. Charlie is a woman who thinks on her feet, is deadly with weapons and can really handle herself. Before Charlie evolved into the character she is today she was a woman making a living teaching self defense and was not exactly happy about it. She finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation because she is actually a logical suspect. Itís her wits and skill that will keep her safe and out of jail.
'Sharp is part of a very small group of writers who actually talks the talk and walks the walk. She really knows this stuff and so when she writes it, it feels more real than most non fiction books. Sharp deserves a genre all her own. This book, more than most being published deserves to be in print again and if you are just discovering ZoŽ Sharp then you are in for a real treat.'
'As action-packed and streamlined as the Suzuki the main character, a self-defense expert, rides. ZoŽ Sharp has an apt last name. She delivers yet another sleek, sharp thriller.'
David Morrell, author of First Blood and The Shimmer
'Charlotte (Charlie) Fox is one of the most vivid and engaging heroines ever to swagger onto the pages of a book. Where Charlie goes, thrills follow and in Killer Instinct, ZoŽ Sharp keeps them coming hard and fast.'
Tess Gerritsen, author of Ice Cold
'If you're looking for an author who can deliver high-octane thrills every time and a character who is NOT to be messed with, you've found them. ZoŽ Sharp and Charlie Fox both kick ass.'
Mark Billingham, author of Death Message
'Charlie Fox is a heroine you can root for, a rare combination of coolness, strength, and heart. Get to know her from the very beginning with this impressive debut. Charlie Fox and ZoŽ Sharp aren't messing around.'
Alafair Burke, author of 212
'Charlotte (Charlie) Fox could give Cotton Malone a run for his money, but I think he'd enjoy every minute of it. Killer Instinct is spicy, smart and entertaining. ZoŽ Sharp has a gift for place and character, making it seem as familiar as your own backyard. She draws out every emotion in the reader with some stylish prose. Well done.'
Steve Berry, author of The Paris Vendetta
'Anyone with a brain wants Charlie Fox for the girl next door. Funny, compassionate, and with moves that can − and do − kill, Charlie is the indelible creation of the remarkable ZoŽ Sharp. A kick-ass great read, Killer Instinct debuts Charlie in a tale of greed and lust that will keep you riveted from page one.'
Gayle Lynds, author of The Book of Spies
'Charlie Fox is tough, compassionate, and kicks ass to protect others − how could anybody not love her? ZoŽ Sharp is a master at writing thoughtful action thrillers, and Killer Instinct is no exception. Read it!'
Meg Gardiner, author of The Liar's Lullaby
'The only person more kick-ass than professional bodyguard Charlie Fox is her creator, ZoŽ Sharp. These books are the best thrillers I've read in a long time, with tension sharp as a razor's edge and the undeniable air of authenticity to the action. If you've been missing Sharp, you've been missing out.'
Russel D McLean, Crime Scene Scotland
'One of the best crime debuts for years.' Janice Young, Yorkshire Post
'You have to kiss an awful lot of frogs before you meet your prince − and the same goes for crime debuts. But sometimes there's a gold nugget in all those hills of wannabe Ruth Rendells, and this is it. It possesses a maturity of style, a confidence and a plot flow which would do credit to far more experienced names. One of the best crime debuts for years.'
'Killer Instinct moves at a cracking pace . . . ' Chris Vaughan, MSL Magazine
'At last, a capable, attractive, self-sufficient strong and believable heroine. Charlie Fox is a girl of our time, and she rides an RGV250. It's crime fiction, set in a slightly seedy seaside town. Charlie's day job is teaching self-defence to women, but she has a shady past which is only gradually revealed as the story develops. A serial killer is stalking the Lancaster area, and when our RGV-riding heroine accepts a job on the previously all-male security team at a local night club she is drawn into a web of deceit and drug dealing, which culminates in a fight for her life.
'Killer Instinct moves at a cracking pace, with well drawn, believable characters and a plot that involves the reader from beginning to end.'
'an exciting . . . entertaining first novel.' Sunday Telegraph
'ZoŽ Sharp has got the balance just right . . . ' Jayne Bennett, South Wales Argus
'Charlie is a strong leading lady with a love of motorbikes who can hold her own in a male-dominated environment. Which is just as well, given the nature of the crime involved. Killer Instinct is the literary equivalent of a Sunday TV drama − a plot that's easy to get into, not too complicated and yet has you desperate to know what happens next. ZoŽ Sharp has got the balance just right in this, her debut novel. Let's hope she can keep the standard up.'
'A lively first book from Sharp, written with assurance and panache . . . a pacy read with a fresh and defiant heroine.' Cath Staincliffe, Manchester Evening News
'an exciting crime novel' OK! Magazine
'not only entertaining, but great fun.' Julia Burrows, Nottingham Evening Post
'ZoŽ Sharp's Killer Instinct introduces feisty heroine Charlie Fox (ex-army), a motorbike enthusiast who teaches self-defence for women in and around Lancaster . . . Charlie's a fighter − and she fights. These fights are brilliantly described. Despite all the violence much of this book is not only entertaining, but great fun.'
'Sharp mixes humour and action . . . ' Luke Croll, Murder & Mayhem Book Club, USA
'Killer Instinct is a very British, home-grown mystery. Sharp mixes humour and action, making Charlie Fox an interesting and appealing protagonist. Her interaction with the other characters works well, and her wry humour will bring a smile to the reader's face. Throughout the novel, Sharp drips information about Fox's past, and she clearly has material for more stories . . . I look forward to reading Sharp's next novel.'
'This is a very polished work . . .' Barbara Franchi, www.ReviewingTheEvidence.com
'This is a very polished work, even though it is a first novel. Charlie's back story is told with a minimum of fuss, we meet her friends, and even her family, and learn what happened to her in the army. I read Riot Act, the second in the series before I read this one, and can truly say that these can be read as stand alones or in any order. Sharp is an author to watch out for.'
'the pace is fast but never lets itself go . . .' Fiona Shoop, Shots Magazine
'Ignore the cover, this book is actually good. Enter Charlie Fox, feisty and able to beat any man at his own game. Or is she? Can the self-defence teacher and club bouncer protect herself or will her curiosity land herself − and those she loves − into deadly danger? With a rapist on the loose, a murder, drugs and fraud, the pace is fast but never lets itself go and Sharp takes the time to create a believable world of trendy clubs and inner city angst as the city tries to rebuild itself but can never escape a past of self-destruction, no matter how glossy its new exterior. This is a well-written book with good characters and a likeable lead in Charlie Fox. Watch out for ZoŽ Sharp . . .'