Author: Zoë Sharp
Murderati Ink, 2011 (previously published)
I've read lots of mysteries & thrillers with female protagonists. But Zoë Sharp's Charlie Fox is . . . different. She lives in Lancaster, England, a small city situated along a river in the northwest of England, not far from the Lake District. This is a new setting for me, and it's always refreshing to read about a new place.
A motorcycle-riding, ex-member of the British military, the woman formerly known as Charlotte Foxcroft teaches self defense courses to women. One evening she tags along with her best friend Clare to a new club. There's an altercation, and Charlie's skills are observed by the club's owner, the mysterious Marc Quinn. Soon after, Marc asks her to work for him as part of the club's security detail. Charlie can use the extra money, so she agrees to work a few evenings a week. However, on her first night working at the club, she immediately feels unwelcome by the all-male security team . . . and it just goes downhill from there.
First, one of the women at the club that night is assaulted and murdered. This is followed by a string of other incidents, including more murders -- and threats to Charlie. As things become more personal, we learn that Charlie was attacked during her time in the military and suffered all sorts of losses as a result. The reason she teaches self-defense to women is so they won't have to be a victim, like she was so long ago. Charlie no longer defines herself as a victim. But does that give her the killer instinct? Her underlying struggle with this question is one of the things that makes her a unique female protagonist.
There are lots of red herrings and false leads, and things don't always turn out like you think they're going to. The last pages are so filled with action, I couldn't stop reading although it was way past my bedtime.
But my favorite thing about Killer Instinct was . . . Charlie. She's a tough cookie, with bit of marshmallow in the inside. She makes me want to get a motorcycle and a pair of leather pants, and to take up martial arts. And I'd definitely want her to have my back, if I was ever in any kind of trouble.
I'll be reading more of this series!