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How can Charlie Fox protect the daughter of a rich Long Island banker when the girl seems determined to put them both in harm’s way?

With the life of her lover, Sean, still hanging in the balance, former Special Forces soldier turned bodyguard, Charlie Fox, throws herself into her only means of escape—her work.

On Long Island, the playground of New York’s wealthy and privileged, she is tasked with protecting Dina, the wayward daughter of rich businesswoman, Caroline Willner.

It seems that an alarming number of the girl’s circle of friends have been through kidnap ordeals, and Charlie quickly discovers Dina is fascinated by the clique formed by the earlier victims. Is that why she seems to be going out of her way to invite capture?

Sticking close to her client at parties aboard luxury yachts, glittering events at the local country club, and out horse-riding along the exclusive sands is all part of the job for Charlie, but she’s concerned that Dina’s thrill-seeking tendencies will put both of them in real danger.

And just as her worst fears are realised, Charlie receives devastating personal news—the man who put Sean in his coma is on the loose.

She is faced with the choice between her loyalties to her client and avenging Sean. Charlie has an impossible decision to make.

Can she live with the consequences?

454 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 10, 2011

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About the author

Zoë Sharp

75 books458 followers
Zoë Sharp spent most of her formative years living aboard a catamaran on the northwest coast of England. She opted out of mainstream education at the age of twelve and wrote her first novel at fifteen. She became a freelance photojournalist in 1988 and started writing her Charlie Fox crime thriller series after receiving death-threats in the course of her work.

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5 stars
329 (43%)
4 stars
291 (38%)
3 stars
115 (15%)
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19 (2%)
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10 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 83 reviews
Profile Image for Best Crime Books & More.
1,092 reviews174 followers
September 8, 2017
At the end of the last book, I think most readers and fans were in shock (me included) as Charlie’s partner was shot and left for dead and who knew what would happen. What actually happened is worse than I expected as Sean now lays critically ill in a coma, unresponsive and looking like no change will happen anytime soon. With Sean critically ill Charlie finds solace in her work as she takes her latest assignment to protect Dina the daughter of a wealth investment banker named Caroline Willner.

Charlie immerses herself in the job as she struggles to accept the fact that Sean’s condition is out of her hands. Although Charlie can adept to many situations she hadn’t banked on being drawn into a world where twenty something Dina runs with the wealth party crowd. Thankfully Dina has a softer side and we see Charlie work her magic and start to understand Dina a little more whilst making her safety her number on priority. It becomes clear early on that the kidnapping threat is a real one to the wealthy crowd and before long Charlie starts to uncover that some other of Dina’s friends had recently been kidnapped and lived to tell the tale. As she gets to know more of Dina’s friends it becomes apparent that all is not as it seems on the surface.

The storyline was a good one but seeing Charlie interact with her boss Parker and her personal struggle with her emotions over Sean was the real hook for me in this book. Parker is a great character and frankly I wondered whether the outcome of this book may be slightly different with regards to him (damn you Zoe Sharp)! Zoe Sharp doing what she does best meant the ending of this book leaves an “OH NO… what now” kind of moment. Of course, that equates in the real world to me just moving straight on to book 10 in the series (there are SOME benefits to being slightly behind with a series after all) and not having to wait for the next release.

I literally turned the last page and am now nearly done with book 10 and about to go on to book 11 which is a Novella. I can’t quite explain why I love this series so much but I truly do. I think this along with the Ryan Lock Series by Sean Black are my two favorite long standing series. Zoe Sharp also doesn’t like to do what readers expect which I love. Forget assumption with this author, she won’t necessarily go for the happy ending that’s for sure. What I can tell you is that this series is gripping, with characters I love and I would hugely recommend it to anyone.
Profile Image for Elizabeth A..
320 reviews29 followers
March 7, 2012
Even though she’s extremely good at it, close-protection specialist (that’s bodyguard to you and me) and ex-special forces soldier Charlie Fox nevertheless has a bit more fighting experience than she’d prefer. This is especially true following the disastrous results of her last job, in Barry Award finalist for Best British crime novel Fourth Day, the repercussions from which she is still sorting through.

There’s no rest for the highly skilled and in-demand, however, and Fifth Victim once again finds Charlie in the thick of things on assignment. At least this time the surroundings are a little nicer, as Charlie is hired by wealthy investment banker Caroline Willner to guard her twenty-year-old daughter, Dina.

Seems there have been three kidnappings amongst the über-rich Long Island crowd, and even though each victim was returned when their families paid the ransom the kidnappings have become increasingly violent with each subsequent event.

Keeping a headstrong twenty-year-old safe would be a challenge under any circumstances, but it borders on an outright nightmare when that twenty-year-old runs with a crowd that has access to fast cars, limousines, fancy yachts, Lear jets, thoroughbred horses and pretty much anything else their hearts desire… and they’re used to getting their way. And far from being scared at the prospect of being kidnapped, Dina and her friends, including the three who were already taken, seem to actually be getting a perverse thrill out of the events, a development which both bothers Charlie and sets her radar on high alert. What exactly is going on in The Hamptons?

Author Zoë Sharp has never had a problem tossing Charlie off the deep end into action, and Fifth Victim is no different. Kidnappings – both successful and not – car chases, hand-to-hand combat, a motorcycle wreck, double-crosses, bribes, murder, and gunplay all make appearances before all’s said and done. What’s always set Charlie apart from the typical action/thriller protagonist, however, is the depth of her self-reflection; Sharp has not merely created a female Rambo, but has shown Charlie to be a truly complex person who has not only been shaped by the events of her past, but who continues to evolve in response to the circumstances life throws at her, and does so with both biting humor as well as grace… and often under fire.

Very reader friendly, Sharp writes the series in such a manner that the plot of each book is self-contained and each can be read as a standalone, but at the same time there is an undeniable – and very satisfying – overall arc to Charlie’s personal development that runs through the books for those who do read them in order. So whether you want to jump in with the most recent release or go back and start at the beginning, I highly encourage you to get acquainted with Charlie Fox. She may have a bit of hard bark on the outside, and she’s earned it, but once you get to know her you’ll understand why those of us who love the series are such relentless champions of both Charlie and her creator.
Profile Image for RachelW (BamaGal).
746 reviews68 followers
August 18, 2018
Interesting story, if rather implausible. What was really going on with the kidnappings was no secret; but I don’t think it was meant to be. It was all about the getting there and the twists and turns thrown in to keep the reader on their toes. As for the personal turn in Charlie’s life, I didn’t like it. Sharp couldn’t be bothered after all these books to properly develop Charlie and Sean’s relationship and know she’s tossing in the possibility of a love triangle? Just no…

This series gets better by the book. I’m firmly hooked, and vested in Charlie’s life and adventures. I don’t know whether to thank Linda or damn her for getting me hooked on this series! At least I know I have a few books to go before I have to start waiting for a new one to come out.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,144 reviews1,849 followers
October 13, 2014
This is the first Zoe Sharp book I've read and the first Charlie Fox book I've read... pretty good.

I generally like the idea of body guard characters and once this one got started it was fairly interesting.

Again as I've said before I think you'll spot a lot of what's behind this book. I was drawn in and yet repelled. The book, the plot was good...some of the characters however ticked me off royally.

The story does have a strong (and for me annoying) strain of romance. I could have lived without that. That part of the story brought about a certain amount of yawning.

That said this is a nice thriller. I think most will enjoy it.
Profile Image for Woman Reading .
434 reviews286 followers
January 25, 2020

4 Stars for kidnappings and personal dilemmas

The major plotline of Fifth Victim, book #9, can be read and enjoyed as a standalone. But some events in Charlie’s personal life are tied too tightly to events in the preceding books for me not to say it would be helpful to read the series starting with at least book #7 Third Strike .

The main story involves a series of kidnappings of the rich and indulged offspring of the super wealthy that live in the Hamptons, New York. Fifth Victim is the first Charlie Fox novel set amongst several billionaires, who do live and think in a way that is foreign to “ordinary mortals.” When you have enough money to buy anything, including immunity from criminal prosecution, your idea of fun can be pretty original, especially when it means flirting with death. One of the kidnapped victims is Manda Dempsey, mentioned previously in the short story Postcards From Another Country . Noting that 20-year old Dina has taken up with a crowd of bright, young things, including all 3 kidnapped victims, her mother Caroline Wilner selects Charlie as a bodyguard for her daughter as a precautionary measure.

The cliffhanger from the preceding book Fourth Day looms overs Charlie in this novel and she is losing hope for Sean’s recovery. Parker persuades her to accept the assignment as a distraction during her vigil for Sean. In response to a question from Caroline, Charlie replies that she would be willing to die to protect her daughter. In a silent addendum Charlie notes that she may be a bit more willing than usual. Flashes of a younger Charlie appear as she is restless and a tad reckless, albeit she’s now equipped with a couple of years’ experience with aggressive hostilities. As the kidnappers adopt more violent tactics (bystanders’ bones get broken, bodyguards get shot…), Charlie meets them commensurately in the risk level of her efforts to thwart them. The kidnapping story is a satisfying, page-turner mystery filled with action.

Since no one is immune from the vicissitudes of life, the surprising events of Fifth Victim occur in Charlie’s personal life. The first is that Charlie crosses the Rubicon. Charlie is British, which means she grew up in a country that has a very firm stance against violence. Britain ended capital punishment in 1965 and banned handguns in 1997; its murder rate is only about one-fifth of the United States’. And then there’s her father with whom, despite the lack of closeness, has influenced her with his doctor’s sanctity of life position. But Charlie discovered her superior marksmanship ability as a teenager and has been wrestling with her killer instinct since her army days. Even after the brutality of the attack and the public character assassination she endured during her expulsion from the army, Charlie has never sought to avenge herself by killing her attackers. She knew that it would be murder and just tried to get pass those ugly memories. Charlie did make exceptions in her struggle with her ability to kill, such as killing in the heat of the moment to protect her principals or herself. Indeed, Charlie has gotten up front and very personally to kill, no weapons other than herself required. And yet, Charlie crossed the Rubicon in Fifth Victim and I wonder whether this will be a temporary or a permanent change. Read to find out what she did, I won’t spoil it for you.

Another surprise in Fifth Victim is the way that Charlie’s personal life gets more complicated. Parker has developed feelings for Charlie. Hmm, what kind of trouble could ensue from that if Sean recovers, given the friendship and partnership between the two men? If you have read the synopses for the next couple of books then you may not be surprised.

0) Trial Under Fire 🌟🌟🌟🌟½
1) Killer Instinct 🌟🌟🌟½
2) Riot Act 🌟🌟🌟🌟
3) Hard Knocks 🌟🌟🌟🌟½
4) First Drop 🌟🌟🌟🌟
5) Road Kill 🌟🌟🌟🌟½
6) Second Shot 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
7) Third Strike 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
8) Fourth Day 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Profile Image for Nancy.
2,143 reviews70 followers
February 11, 2021
I was pleasantly surprised by a good plot,
good description and short chapters.
Charlie Fox is an intriguing executive bodyguard and is the main character ..
a female in a male-dominated career.
A bit too gritty for me .. but if I happen to get my hands on another CF book or my library has one to loan .. I will definitely read it ! (Worldwide Suspense owned by Harlequin. First published by Pegasus.)
Profile Image for Harry.
319 reviews402 followers
August 4, 2012
Being interested in reading series mystery/detectives I ran across Zoe Sharp during my aimless wandering through book worlds online. I admit, reading the reviews I was skeptical as to whether or not I'd like this book for the simple reason that I'm interested in a particular type of hero (principled but tempted by physical violence, alone in the world by choice but always tempted to abandon this lifestyle). Female main characters usually do not fit this model if my previous reads are any indication. And so I considered that books written from the viewpoint of Charlie Fox, a female protagonist, might or might not interest me.

Having said that, the character of Sean Meyer did interest me. And so I dove into the Charlie Fox mystery/thrillers.

Ms. Sharp did a nice job of incorporating my particular interest, not just in the character of Sean Meyer, but also in the female protagonist. Charlie Fox is in the business of security, protection, and self-defense. That too went a long way into my choosing to read this series. Constantly weighing her principles against Sean Meyer vs. the various antagonist you will encounter in this series, Charlie Fox comes across has both hard boiled and vulnerable, hero and unwilling victim, intelligent and driven by desire.

As with all series books, read them in order! And if you've read this review of Charlie Fox than you've read them all. Ms. Sharp remains consistent in terms of interesting plots, depth of character to warrant a blanket review of the entire series.
Profile Image for Lizzie Hayes.
381 reviews22 followers
August 31, 2012
‘Fifth Victim’ by Zoe Sharp
Published by Allison & Busby, March 2011. ISBN: 978-0-7490-0932-8

With her partner Sean Myer lying in a coma, ex-Special Forces soldier Charlie Fox takes a job as a bodyguard in Long Island, protecting the young daughter of an Investment banker, following a spate of kidnapping amongst the wealthy Long Island set. Whilst Charlie takes to her employer, the formidable Caroline Willner, the daughter Dina is a rebellious teenager who insists she doesn't need a bodyguard.

As Charlie accompanies Dina to various parties she meets three of the kidnap victims, all in Dina's set. All eventually returned home safely after a ransom was paid. They seem unfazed by their ordeal, and Charlie begins to suspect that what initially looked to be a straightforward job could have complications. For Charlie's instincts are telling her that not all the people she meets are what they seem. Could someone in this rich and privileged set be involved?

Charlie is a marvelous heroine, with a flawed past. Interestingly Parker Armstrong comes more into focus in this book than in the earlier ones, which had me speculating!

As ever the writing is good and the characters well drawn. The book moves at a cracking pace towards a surprise ending with a jaw-dropping twist that has me eager for the next book. Not to be missed,
Lizzie Hayes
Earlier books in the series are, Killer Instinct, Riot Act, Hard Knocks, First Drop, Road Kill, Second Shot, Third Strike and Fourth Day

503 reviews27 followers
February 2, 2012

The best so far in this "thriller" series featuring Charlie Fox. Sharp has made Charlie a much more fully realized and mature character at this stage which makes a more enjoyable read (versus all "action").

Charlie is an ex-Special Forces who works as a "close protection" bodyguard. In this case she is assigned to protect a spoiled rich brat 20-something amidst a string of kidnappings of spoiled rich brats in The Hamptons.

Naturally, she is called on to protect her charge, but ultimately to unravel the kidnapping plot. Lots of action, but not over the top.

Part of what makes her more mature/fully realized is that her partner/lover Sean is in a coma (stemming from their previous adventure). She is out on her own and handles herself well.

Points off for the ending which seems tacked on and clumsily attempts to sew up extraneous threads.

This can easily be read as a standalone.

Sharp continues to improve/mature as a writer and I'll continue to pick up her offerings.
Profile Image for Kathy.
412 reviews4 followers
October 19, 2014
I listened to the audio version and feel it was well done. I've not read any others in the series and am not sure whether or not I will pursue others. The story was good. One element that I could not wrap my head around, though, was the guilt that the protagonist voiced in so many circumstances. I don't know if this would have been as obvious when experienced in the text version. You know the narrator is good when the really irritating aspects of characters get to you. There is no backstory that Charlie is Catholic or Jewish (that's supposed to be a joke) so what is with all the guilt in this character that is otherwise a strong competent female? My reason for not pursuing more in this series is the melodramatic thread that ties the series together. It is ridiculous and seriously detracts from an otherwise nicely done bad guys/good guys story.
Profile Image for Gary Van Cott.
1,446 reviews8 followers
November 16, 2014
3.5 stars. This was a free library kindle book and I didn't have anything else on hand to read. I prefer to start series at the beginning.
WHAT I LIKED: The characters and the way the author has a little cliff hanger at the end of each chapter. Also, it was different as most of the books I read are police procedurals. WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I don't like first person. I think it makes books too wordy and slows down the action and for whatever reason I thought it it happened in this book. At about 75 percent of the way through the book the author suddenly mentions a villain from a previous book and after the main case is wound up he becomes the focus of most of the final pages. I think the purpose of this was to create a cliff hanger at the end of the book. Completely unnecessary in my opinion. Perhaps the author is overfond of cliff hangers.
Profile Image for Skip.
3,351 reviews414 followers
January 25, 2016
Charlie is deeply depressed as her partner Sean remains in a coma from a near-fatal head shot. Her boss Parker asks her to become a bodyguard to the daughter of a wealthy Hampton's socialite after a series of unreported kidnappings/ransoms. Things quickly turn deadly as the wealthiest ends up dead. Charlie is able to detect that the victims are not so innocent, but her charge (Dina) is grabbed and Charlie races against the clock to save her life. End of the book has a couple of surprises, relating back to the prior book, Fourth Day.
Profile Image for J.F. Penn.
Author 45 books2,149 followers
August 29, 2013
Charlie Fox is a close protection bodyguard and in this book, she's called in to protect a rich heiress in a community of the super-wealthy. Young people are being kidnapped, held for ransom and in some cases tortured, and Charlie's aim is to prevent Dina being taken. But when one of kidnappings go too far, the stakes are suddenly much higher than before.

Written in first person, you feel like you're there with Charlie, her sense of humour is dry and she's totally kick-ass, but not reckless, which I love in a heroine. The Charlie Fox series is fantastic.
Profile Image for The Cats’ Mother.
2,130 reviews139 followers
April 14, 2013
Another brilliant thriller in the Charlie Fox series, this one has her assigned to protect a rich young woman on Long Island after a spate of kidnappings amongst her peers. With Sean in a coma, her boss Parker is more involved and Charlie is torn by her developing feelings for him. This was a fast read with a sort-of cliffhanger ending, so I'm glad I've got the next one lined up, but then I'll have to wait for them as they come out!
Profile Image for Gloria.
2,091 reviews38 followers
January 21, 2012
I don't know how I've missed seeing this author for the last ten years, but this is a great series. This is the 9th and most recent book. Strong female protagonist, lots of romance suggestiveness but never really goes there, sharp plot twists and definite suspense. All good. No sex; violent, but not graphically so.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,782 reviews14.2k followers
March 3, 2012
3.5 Plenty of action as Charlie Fox is hired to be the bodyguard of a wealthy teenage girl after a spate of kidnappings from families of others in the same set. Charlie still has unresolved issues from her last case, leaving her emotionally fragile, but still found Parker and his hovering a bit annoying at times. All in all a good read.
Profile Image for Cathleen.
1,091 reviews39 followers
December 31, 2011
Sharp once again proves herself my absolute favorite adrenaline author. Focused storytelling, fascinating heroine, keen dialogue, and an overall thrilling ride.
1,292 reviews29 followers
March 1, 2012
Lots of action in this latest Charlie Fox book. Like Charlie, though I was a little irritated with how often her boss had to come consult on developments. When's the next one due out?
Profile Image for Linda Hepworth.
891 reviews4 followers
October 5, 2021
Charlie Fox, an ex-Special Forces soldier and now a “close protection specialist”, is hired by Caroline Willner, a rich business woman, to act as bodyguard to her twenty year old daughter, Dina. Several of Dina’s friends, all of whom are from families living in a wealthy, Long Island community, have recently been kidnapped and held to ransom. Before long it becomes apparent to Charlie that, whilst the young people aren’t as innocent as they at first appear, the threat to her charge is certainly real.
A friend passed this book on to me and although I don't feel as enthusiastic about it as she did, I did find it a reasonably engaging and easy to read thriller. The plot was full of twists and turns (although I did guess the identity of the perpetrator relatively early on!), and the story-telling was fast-paced and at times quite dark and violent – although some of the violence seemed rather gratuitous. For the most part the characters were well developed and felt quite credible, if somewhat stereo-typed. I thought that Charlie Fox was quite well portrayed – a complex, flawed personality rather than an unbelievable “Wonder Woman”! The author’s combination of personal experience and careful research adds a certain authenticity to the developing plot.
It was clear throughout the story that it is one of a series but there were enough pointers to Charlie’s previous exploits and experiences to make it possible to read this one as a stand-alone novel. The cliff-hanger at the end is obviously designed to encourage the reader to look-out for the next in the series, but I have to admit I feel no inclination to do so as I prefer thrillers which have more psychological depth.

267 reviews
December 7, 2019
With her significant other Sean in a coma from a bullet wound to the head, Charlie Fox dives into her work as a protection specialist. She is hired to guard Dina, the daughter of separated rich parents, from becoming the next victim of kidnappers who are preying on the children of the elite in the Hamptons. Complicating matters is that none of the families of the victims contacted the police or FBI, preferring to pay instead, and that Parker, her widowed boss, is becoming more and more a mutual attraction.

Picking up soon after the last book, Fourth Day, left off, this novel is again told from Charlie's point of view, putting her in the midst of the action. There is plenty of action, along with suspects galore to complicate her efforts to keep Dina from being abducted and to find out who is behind the crime spree.

This series is one of my favorites and I would recommend that if you dive into it, start with First Drop, and read them all in order. Fifth Victim can also stand on its own two feet as a great mystery read. Very highly recommended.
Profile Image for Sarah.
2,996 reviews45 followers
May 17, 2017
Charlie Fox is back to be being a close protection specialist in this novel--to a rich young lady who is danger of being kidnapped, since other young adults of moneyed background have been taken lately in her neighborhood. Charlie is distracted because her boyfriend Sean isn't in the picture (no spoilers here), but she manages, of course, to take care of the problems. Good lead-in to the next book though--off to request it through interlibrary loan now!
Profile Image for Elizabeth Edwards.
4,996 reviews9 followers
September 26, 2019
i got to go into a thrift shop in KS ... found 6 books ... for like gosh was it .25 cents a piece? i think that was, what it was??! this was one of the six i did pick ... cool cover ... the book cover got me ... what a read. Finding the right book on Amazon is tough ... different cover ... hope i got the right one??! great read ... new to Zoe's writing. well done. will read more soon enough. check her out!! ( ;
Profile Image for Debi.
78 reviews
August 4, 2022
I almost put this down before I had read too much as I’m not keep on a bunch of Uber rich kids and their parents who believe the kids need a body guard. I kept on as I do like to find an author who has written many books. (She and I are both from England).
I can’t say it was my favorite book of all time, but as the book picked up about a third of the way through, I will read a couple more before switching to something else.
Profile Image for A.J..
411 reviews5 followers
January 3, 2023
Best yet- don't miss it!

All the action we love in this series plus tension of worries about family... Plus horses (my personal favorite subject to read or think about). This has to be my favorite of the series. Think Jack Reacher as written by Felix Francis, & perhaps that would be close to the atmosphere of this novel. Zoe Sharp keeps improving and sets a very high standard. If you haven't read this series yet, what are you waiting for?
Profile Image for iamgaarden.
188 reviews3 followers
June 11, 2023
Charlie's next bodyguard job is to protect a young woman from becoming the next kidnapped victim. It might sound like a cliché plot, but Zoë Sharp has a talent for breaking clichés into bits and pieces and reconstructing them into something unexpected, unpredictable and complex. Add to it that book 8 and 9 (this one) really puts Charlie under pressure and I'm all here for this sort of character development. I've already ordered the rest of the series :)
Profile Image for Richard Wagner.
Author 4 books16 followers
June 1, 2020
what a turkey! i started this as a fun guilty pleasure. didn't expect much from it, but even that bar was too high. the thing is, there's moments of really good writing here. that is till it devolves into schlock. the main character, Charlie Fox, is a mess. one moment she is a hard as nails, take no prisoners professional; the next she's an indecisive, second guessing twit. sheesh.
Profile Image for Tracy Irwin.
Author 1 book
February 28, 2021
Well after the last book ended on such a cliff hanger I shouldn't have been so surprised that this one ended up on one too! Love these charactors, even if the stories are a little implausible sometimes! #onelinebookreview #goodreads #lovebooks #kindle #booksofinstagram #booklover #bookstagram
49 reviews
October 9, 2019
Another good one in the series.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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