*I have swapped #BlogTour dates with the lovely Ayo from Shotsmag Confidential, due to being in hospital, apologises to the author & publisher*
Fox Hunter by Zoe Sharp
The dead man had not gone quietly … There was a time when I would have given everything I owned to be the one responsible for that.’
Charlie Fox will never forget the men who put a brutal end to her military career, but she vowed a long time ago she would not go looking for them.
Now she doesn’t have a choice.
Her boss and former lover, Sean Meyer, is missing in Iraq where one of those men was working as a private security contractor. When the man’s butchered body is discovered, Charlie fears that Sean may be pursuing a twisted vendetta on her behalf.
Sean’s partner in their exclusive New York close-protection agency needs this dealt with—fast and quiet—before everything they’ve worked for is in ruins. He sends Charlie to the Middle East with very specific instructions:
Find Sean Meyer and stop him. By whatever means necessary.
At one time Charlie thought she knew Sean better than she knew herself, but it seems he’s turned into a violent stranger. As the trail grows more bloody, Charlie realises that unless she can get to Sean first, the hunter may soon become the hunted.
THE IRAQ WAR AND CHARLIE FOX
I deliberately did not set out to put Charlie Fox down into the middle of the Iraq wars. For a start, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that led to the Gulf War took place in 1990-1991, which is rather early for Charlie to be involved unless she enlisted in the army as a very young girl soldier. The second major Iraq War with Western allies, which ended in the fall of Saddam Hussein, finished in 2011, by which time Charlie had been back in civvy street for some time.
Considering the way time can be stretched and compressed in the world of a book, though, there’s no reason she couldn’t have played an active military role in any of the conflicts of the late 1990s or early 2000s. After all, when Robert B Parker wrote the first of the books to feature his classic private detective, Spenser, (THE GODWULF MANUSCRIPT, published in 1973) the character was described as a veteran of the Korean War of 1950-1953. This would have made Spenser a somewhat elderly (but still remarkably agile) man by the time the fortieth novel in the series, SIXKILL, came out in 2011, a year after Parker himself died at his desk. However, because book-time was in play Spenser was able to remain ageless to the last, existing in a kind of floating ever-present.
I deliberately did not want to place Charlie into a full-blown military situation in my latest book, FOX HUNTER, as that period of her life belongs in the past. I know Lee Child has returned several times to Jack Reacher’s service as a military cop, but I have already made it clear that Charlie’s time in uniform did not end well, and I didn’t want to take her back there.
Not yet, anyway.
I do intend to return to Charlie’s army past in the project I’m currently working on, which will be a prequel to the series. It will detail not how she came to be thrown out of Special Forces training, but what she had to do in order to be chosen for it in the first place.
But that, as they say, is another story.
For FOX HUNTER, I wanted to take Charlie to the Middle East in general—and Iraq in particular—but in more contemporary, post-war times. I wanted to explore the roles of women in this uncertain and shifting landscape, both those working in the male-dominated profession of the private military contractor, and those living day-to-day amid the threat of violence and retribution. In this situation, Charlie is both an outside observer, able to empathise only too well with victims, and very much an active participant.
By focusing down onto individual stories rather than global themes, I hoped to portray a broader picture of this troubled area, where good and evil are rarely clear cut, and everyone has their own idea of what it means to behave with honour. Somehow, that felt easier to write in such an unsettled location. Having said that, as I read the news reports at home every day I think this story could have been transported back here just as easily.
We live, as the Arab curse has it, in interesting times …
Zoë Sharp was a photojournalist for almost twenty-five years before she quit to write fiction full time. She loves to travel—and has done so by all means including horseback, camel train, motorcycle, yacht, skidoo, and steam locomotive, as well as by more conventional forms of transport. She has so far achieved well over a million words in print, and there’s no sign of her stopping any time soon. www.ZoeSharp.com