Close protection specialist Charlie Fox finds herself south of the border in a country devastated by a massive earthquake in Sharp’s latest (Die Easy, 2012, etc.).
While working to unmask the killer of a man sent as personal protection for an earthquake Rescue and Recovery team, Charlie meets a colorful cast of suspicious characters: a quirky Australian pilot named Riley; burly Joe Marcus, who served 20 years in the Marine Corps; Wilson, a Scot and former paratrooper; and a young girl, Hope Tyler, whose best friend is a yellow Lab with a talent for finding anything, including human beings, both dead and alive. One of the sponsors of the program isn’t satisfied with the explanations she received about how the man who once had Charlie’s job died and contracts with Charlie’s boss, Parker Armstrong, to determine the true nature of his death. She also wants to know whether or not the team she supports is on the up-and-up. Charlie, tough as gristle and relentlessly determined, ends up with some odd duties for a protection specialist—working orthodontic and forensic pathology in connection with the victims. But the real mystery is why the former protection agent was killed and who killed him. With a plot that encompasses everything from missing jewels to Hope’s true purpose, Sharp’s story is thin and not terribly satisfying. Charlie is her usual tough-talking, butt-kicking self, but this foray into the field—while displaying the author’s admirable adherence to fact and impressive research—feels both short and rushed, like a movie that’s just getting going when “The End” pops up. Readers may find the quasi-rape scene between Charlie and her former lover, Sean—it starts with him jumping her in a shower and ends with her forcing him to have sex—disturbing even though Sharp tries very hard to justify it.
Sharp pays meticulous attention to detail, but this novella reads as though the author’s grown weary of her own heroine's adventures.