Written by Zoe Sharp — Riot Act is a tale of a damaged but strong woman thrust into events she initially tries to avoid. House sitting for a friend seems at first to be a simple favour, however as rampant property crime in the neighborhood turns more violent, self-defense expert Charlie Fox finds she is unable to simply sit on the sidelines. By intervening she’s drawn into a larger scheme that threatens her life and those of those she cares for.
The characters in Riot Act are well drawn and complex. Charlie has a history of victimhood and regret, as well as a habit of attracting trouble. Sean Meyer is a man with whom she has a poorly understood, but ultimately painful past. He carries his own damage, regrets and anger, and their shared past both binds them and sets them apart as they deal with events.
The escalating violence, both personal and environmental, drives the action as Charlie seeks to uncover what is behind the attack on her temporary neighbour, and the death of a teen. The search for answers leads to trouble, injury and guilt over mistakes she makes and trust she puts in the wrong people. And yet in the end Charlie finds those she can rely on, and those behind the acts are brought to justice, though not necessarily through the legal system.
The author has states in notes included with the eBook that the seed of the idea for this story was the reception an Asian shop owner received, and that she was uncertain if the rioting would seem plausible today as this book was written years ago and originally published in 2003. Since then not only has it been republished for Kindle, but the escalating violence and social tensions in the UK only seem to have made the story more relevant and plausible.
Riot Act has a quick pace, snappy dialog, and enough action and tension to draw you along. The main characters are deep and demonstrate a bravery born of determination to do what they feel needs to be done. Support characters also show enough facets of themselves to keep the reader guessing about the underlying mystery. Combined, this creates a satisfying read. The book comes at a great price on Kindle.
CFL Rating: 4 stars