Item description for Phoenix: A Detective Karen Sharpe Mystery by John Connor...
"A first-rate thriller with a terrific climax."-The Sunday Telegraph (London)
"Grisham did it in America, now a British criminal lawyer debuts with a suspense-packed thriller."-Peterborough Evening Telegraph
"John Connor's debut novel Phoenix starts as just about the most impressive police procedural that I've ever read-and one of the most authentic."-Morning Star
Karen Sharpe is a tough-talking, hard-drinking woman. Too drunk to leave her house, she had her sergeant meet an informant for her, and he was killed. Beset by guilt, she is determined to find the killer.
John Connor was a senior criminal lawyer within the Crown Prosecution Service.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.25" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 0.76 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 2008
Publisher Bloody Brits Press
ISBN 1932859381 ISBN13 9781932859386
Availability 0 units.
More About John Connor
Dr John Connor is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of New South Wales.
John Connor was born in 1966 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University College, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra Univers.
Reviews - What do customers think about Phoenix: A Detective Karen Sharpe Mystery?
Promising start that peters off. Nov 19, 2004
DC Sharpe expects to be drunk on at least one particular night of the year and to wake up rotten with the aftertaste of memories meshing into her nightmares. When one of the victims of a double murder turns out to be her chief officer, Karen is called in to view the crime scene and assist with the investigation. Detective Sergeant Leech has been executed, and not in a tidy fashion so the investigating officers accept that his former partner would look more than a little upset and queasy after viewing his body. But it's not a squeamish stomach or a grieving heart that is worrying Karen Sharpe.
Karen was meant to be at that midnight rendezvous, meeting with a young female informant who was the other victim of that night. DS Leech had gone instead, due to Karen's drunken state and was killed. Was he murdered in place of her, and for what reason? Detective Chief Superintendent John Munro places Karen on the investigative team, hoping that she can help provide evidence to bring about a conviction on a local drug dealer that they have in their sights. Karen knows this is not a dealer or an ex boyfriend of the deceased informant out for revenge. It has to do with her own past, people she still fears, and how far she has come to re-invent herself.
Interesting that this is the first novel in an expected series for two reasons. One; the ending is quite ambiguous and two; the lead character in DC Sharpe is not what you would expect in a recurring lead. Sharpe is a strong, driven woman with a past that was essential in providing the needed twist in "Phoenix". It's difficult to see, from the shrapnel lying about at the end of this novel where the character will go and on which side of the law she will be walking. With baggage, or without?
"Phoenix" starts off brilliantly as a detailed police procedural then wings off to the left with as the possibility of terrorism is introduced into what would seem a drugs related murder investigation. The two sides of the story never quite seem to meld successfully, and the secondary plot seems an afterthought in addition to the first to add some snap. Lots of supposedly smart police doing very dumb things don't help to wind up the tension which comes too late into play to be effective.
Promise here for some good reading in future works with this writer but sadly "Phoenix" falls just shy of being what you'd describe as a gripping read.
Introducing Karen Sharpe May 26, 2004
If this were just a simple murder investigation, solved through the police procedural method of grinding out the facts until the killer was unearthed, then I would have listed it among the countless books of the genre where it would be lost and forgotten by next week. What makes PHOENIX stand out from the crowd as a memorable thriller is the introduction of Detective Constable Karen Sharpe. In his debut novel, Jon Connor has produced a strong mystery with an even stronger protagonist.
Karen Sharpe is a tough talking, hard-drinking woman. She breaks the mold as far as most of the female protagonists that I've come across go. She strikes me as a cross between Ian Rankin's Detective Inspector John Rebus and Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch. The similarity comes from her total disregard for the wishes of her superior officers which is matched by her near pathological desire to work alone.
Our introduction to Karen comes as she is suffering from a hangover after drinking herself into oblivion the night before in an effort to cope with an unspecified anniversary. From early on we understand that there is a lot more to Karen Sharpe than first meets the eye.
Detective Sergeant Phil Leech of the West Yorkshire Police Department's drug squad is found shot in the head in his car in a remote field on a South Pennine moor. Leech is Karen Sharpe's superior officer and was working as her partner at the time. She can vaguely remember a late night phone call urging her to an important meeting that had to do with a case they were working on, but she was too drunk to leave her house. Leech went in her stead. Consequently, she is beset by guilt with the thought that the person with the bullet holes in their head could very well have been her.
A major taskforce is set up, code named Phoenix, and is headed by Detective Chief Inspector John Munroe. He appears to be a very compassionate man who takes it upon himself to help Karen through the shock of having to identify her partner at the murder scene, not that she appears to need to be mollycoddled. He then decides to include Karen on the taskforce due to her knowledge of the case that she and Leech were working on before he was killed.
The investigation conducted by the West Yorkshire Police is probably the most procedural police procedural I have ever read. What I mean by this is that the actual breakdown of tasks are described in great detail at the start of the operation, more so than in most other police procedural mysteries that I have read. Plenty of detail is given in the areas of gathering evidence at the crime scene, viewing CCTV footage, following terrorist connections to eliminate the possibility that it was a Provisional IRA hit. We really knew that every avenue was being explored by the police.
Karen Sharpe breaks away to conduct her own investigation, blithely ignoring the tasks given to her by her Sergeant. There is a constant aura of mystery about Karen's past, glimpsed occasionally through the strange direction that she takes the case. She seems to know about suspects and facts that help her move her investigation forward, yet she doesn't really know how she knows about them. There is a definite sense that something big is going to be revealed about her before this case is solved, effectively luring me to the ending with the promise of a surprise.
The interaction between DCI John Munroe and Karen Sharpe is particularly interesting as their relationship develops beyond the professional. Although he holds a position of power over her due to his rank, it is Karen who rules their relationship, not only mentally but physically too (which comes as a major shock to Munroe, let me tell you).
The only problem I had with the book was the size of the team used to investigate the murder. The team of over 50 officers seemed unfeasibly large to me, compared to the size of the small town in which the murder was committed. It was difficult to believe that there were so few other crimes being committed that this kind of manpower could be committed to a single investigation. Admittedly, it was a fellow police officer who was murdered, but still it seemed a little unrealistic.
Jon Connor weaves an intriguing mystery that branches out into a much more complex plot than I first expected. Giving the story a solid edge, he has created a strong protagonist and has revealed enough about her past to make her a fascinating character, but I get the impression that he has held back more about her that will be revealed in future books.