Here's my review for another kindling: Killer Instinct by Zoe Sharp
I am a female motorcyclist and occasional karateka who lives in the north of England: I therefore couldn't resist downloading this book.I picked this up as a special offer freebie, but in my estimation it's well worth the three quid it would normally cost, so long as you like detective fiction and you can cope with the triggery bits.
Charlie Fox is a very well-realised character. She has an authentic voice, and the immediacy and quirks of her dialogue were all very familiar to me. The precision of the author's descriptions of motorcycling are matched by the delightfully eccentric descriptions she uses for characters - the one springing to mind is the minor character whose cleft chin hangs off his face "like a small pair of buttocks".
Charlie's initial characterisation, as a rape survivor who still has some elements of self-blame, was hard for me to cope with, but principally because it was so well done. There are few rape survivors who don't blame themselves to some degree, and Charlie's initial reaction of learning self defence and then teaching it to others is an understandable one, even if I have some political qualms about putting the responsibility of preventing rape onto the victims, rather than the perpetrators. Charlie's growing refusal to let herself be a victim, and her determination to help herself and others, are a tough but rewarding read.
Her growth throughout the story feels genuine and evolutionary, rather than forced as some Tough Female Leads (TM) can seem. Through the course of the book I really grew to like and respect her as a person; her thought processes are well-detailed, and her moral dilemmas resonate strongly. By the final passages I was almost literally cheering her on.
The plot of the story isn't massively original, and I'm a devourer of detective fiction in all media, so I had most of it worked out well before the revelations, but bits of how we get to the end still came as surprises. It's a reasonably good crime thriller plot, but nothing more.
In summary then: the plot is merely good, but the characters, especially the lead, are outstanding and the descriptive passages are a delight. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who likes detective fiction, but with a warning that there are some triggery passages in there for rape and domestic violence survivors.