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Connor, John - 'Phoenix' (Unabridged Audiobook) read by Maggie Mash
Audio Cassette (2005) Publisher: Story Sound ISBN: 1859038360

PHOENIX introduces West Yorkshire based police officer DC Karen Sharpe and the series begins in 1996.

Sharpe and her sergeant Phil Leech are a drug unit investigating small time criminals Coates and Varley. Leech has coerced Coates's girlfriend Fiona Mitchell into being an informant. Leech, Mitchell and Sharpe meet in a pub on the night of 8th April and afterwards Leech runs a very drunk Sharpe home. He canít understand her behaviour but neither he nor the reader knows why Sharpe blots real life out every year on that specific date. It's a ritual which saves Sharpe's life as later that night a terrified Mitchell calls Sharpe and asks her to meet her at 'The Reservoir' but Sharpe is too incapacitated to drive and puts her onto Leech.

The next morning a hungover Sharpe is called to a crime scene on the moor where she identifies the bodies of Leech and Mitchell. The officer in charge, John Munro, adds Sharpe to the team which will be running 'Operation Phoenix' to find the murderer of a police officer.

As the hangover fades Sharpe realises that she has some leads to follow which she doesnít share with the rest of the investigation squad and as she probes further she comes to understand that she and not Leech was the target that night and she knows who the killer is.

I haven't met a character quite as unlikeable as Karen Sharpe in a long, long time. She's cold, unemotional, a sociopath even, who acts outside the rules of police behaviour, however as she says, "judge me by my results" and she certainly scores highly in that department.

As the story progresses we learn titbits of Sharpe's past and that something major happened to her before she moved from London to Yorkshire. Finally the back-story is revealed in a highly emotional scene and Sharpe loses her cool before regrouping for a thrilling finale on the fog-shrouded moors.

I really enjoyed listening to PHOENIX and Maggie Mash gives a splendid performance while running the gamut of English, Irish and Scottish accents and she has the clinical Sharpe nailed. I'm pleased to see that she has already recorded #2 THE PLAYROOM.

Extremely gripping, this is a fast paced tale and the tension in the final scenes was unbearable. The Pennines setting was well brought to life and I think we have lots more to learn about Sharpe and indeed her colleague John Munro who is attracted to Sharpe. I look forward to catching up with them soon.

Karen Meek, England
March 2006

Karen blogs at
Euro Crime.

last updated 23/03/2008 20:52