Sharp Shooter

Tara Sharp, Book 1

Marianne Delacourt

ISBN 978-1-922101-29-7 (print)

ISBN 978-1-922101-30-3  (ebook)

Cover design by Catherine Larsen

Published by our crime imprint, Deadlines, May 2016


Tara Sharp should be just another unemployable, twenty-something, ex-private schoolgirl ... but she has the gift—or curse as she sees it—of reading people's auras. The trouble is, auras sometimes tell you things about people they don't want you to know.

When a family friend recommends Mr Hara's Paralanguage School, Tara decides to give it a whirl - and graduates with flying colours. So when Mr Hara picks up passes on a job for a hot-shot lawyer she jumps at the chance despite some of his less-than-salubrious clients.

Tara should know better than to get involved when she learns the job involves mob boss Johnny Vogue. But she's broke and the magic words 'retainer' and 'bonus' have been mentioned. Soon Tara finds herself sucked into an underworld 'situation' that has her running for her life.

Sharp Shooter is a hilarious, action-packed novel and Tara Sharp is Triple F: Funny. Fast. Feisty.

Also in the Tara Sharp series:


Book 2: Sharp Turn

Book 3: Too Sharp

Book 4: Sharp Edge



About Marianne Delacourt:

Marianne Delacourt is the pseudonym of a successful, award winning Australian sci-fi fantasy author who is sold throughout the world. Sharp Shooter is set in Perth, where the author grew up. The next book in the Tara Sharp series is Sharp Turn. Marianne now lives in Brisbane.


Twitter: @mdpierres


“Light, fast-paced, humorous, and yes, sharp, this Perth-based series is a lot of fun to read. As the cover declares, Delacourt has created a heroine Janet Evanovich fans will love—only this lanky lady is pure Aussie. You’ve not met anyone quite like her.”—Tara Moss’s Book Club—13th Street

“Australia’s Marianne Delacourt delivers the laughs and action with her sassy, unorthodox PI Tara Sharp...” —The Herald Sun

“Tara Sharp is a gust of fresh air in the local crime fiction scene. While it is wonderful that our more literary crime writers are finally getting the attention they deserve, there’s still plenty of room for fast-paced commercial female-oriented Australian crime fiction. And Marianne Delacourt (aka sci-fi writer Marianne de Pierres) has certainly nailed that brief.—The Australian Bookseller and Publisher.

“Marianne Delacourt’s heroine – Perth PI Tara Sharp – invites comparison with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, and there’s no doubt if you’re an Evanovich fan you’ll enjoy this. Sharp, however, has the added wrinkle of being able to read peoples auras, as much a curse as a blessing.”—Scoop Magazine

"Great summer read in the vein of Stephanie Plum - only better!"—Jean E Christopherson, Amazon

"This is truly a book you cannot put down. Keeps falling in it and comes out smelling like a rose. Makes one wish they could meet Ms Tara. What a women, one in a million, a detective with principles, ethics, morals and a way with words. You will meet many strange characters in this land of Australia. Many times you will want to say, "stop don't do that" ... she does it. My heroine. Memorable."—William P Hulley, Amazon

Read a sample from Sharp Shooter

Chapter 1

I stared across the desk at the psychiatrist and tried not to fiddle.

Betsy Waller was a school friend of my mother’s, whom I’d known since I was a kid. A no-nonsense type of shrink. Her office was polished floorboards and cherry veneer clean, her leather chair bigger than my bed. Certificates smothered the walls.

She’d been asking me questions for nearly an hour, and by the way her forehead was now wrinkling, I could see she’d reached her verdict.

Tara is nuts. Or, maybe, Tara is NUTS.

She closed her folder, slipped her Brendan O’Keefe spectacles up onto her head, and peered at me. ‘Tara, I will only say this once so please heed me. You are NOT, as you call it, “nuts”. You are, however, possessed of a … talent. You have an extraordinary sensitivity and overdeveloped emotional intelligence.’

‘But how do I stop it?’ I moaned. ‘I mean, it’s ruining my life. I just got sacked because of it. I can’t have a normal conversation with anyone. I know when they’re lying. I see auras around things. Your pen…’

Bets twiddled the sleek, gold Parker between her fingers. ‘What about it?’

‘It’s glowing orange. Like you.’

‘Me? I have an orange aura?’

I nodded. ‘Subtle, though. Like autumn leaves—not a carrot.’

She managed a weak smile. ‘Well that’s a relief. But what does it … mean?’

‘People transfer their stronger emotions onto their possessions sometimes. Is the pen a gift from someone you really care about?’

Betsy flushed and dropped the pen onto her blotter.

‘The auras aren’t just colours either, Bets, they have texture and shape. They tell me about the person: if they’re happy or miserable. Hell, I think I even know when some people are going to die.’

Bets pursed her lips at that and did an admirable job of NOT looking at her hands to see if they were glowing orange.

‘I don’t normally do this, understand?’ she said at last. ‘But I’ve known you since you were little and I’ve been in this game for many years. The longer I’m in it, the less convinced I am that we live in as scientifically rational a world as we’d like to think.’

I gave a mock-gasp. ‘You’ve turned New Ager.’

She laughed at that, and slid the O’Keefe’s back down into their normal position on the bridge of her prominent nose. ‘Perhaps.’

Silence ensued as she wrote something on a piece of paper and slid it across the desk. ‘I know a fellow who might be able to help you.’

I read it aloud—‘Hara’s Body Language Inc.’ I looked back at her helplessly then read on. ‘A body language and psychic business?’

‘That’s right, dear.’ She bent her head back to her work. ‘Say hello to your parents for me.’

Dismissed, I wandered to the door, dazed. It wasn’t at all what I’d expected. A script for something perhaps, or the six months of counselling my parents had urged on me and offered to pay for but—


I stopped and turned back towards her hopefully. ‘Yes?’

‘Don’t mention this to anyone. Understand?’ she said, a whiff of anxiety evident beneath her professional mask. Her deep orange aura flickered too.

I forced myself to smile. ‘Sure, Bets.’

‘Good girl.’


I left Bets’ office and drove Mona, my beloved Holden Monaro, home along Stirling Highway, past the designer furniture shops and real estate offices.

I love Perth. My city is a woman with so many moods and angles: dazzling, conceited, sheltered, and sometimes downright stuffy. As I turned off the highway towards my parents’ house in Eucalyptus Grove and drove along a quieter road, she felt a tad disapproving, like she was saying, ‘Get your act together, Tara.’

Since I’d been sacked from my last job, I’d had to move into my parents’ converted garage until I could afford to rent again.

Unemployed and living back at home. Looooser!

I parked the car on the curb outside number 25 Lilac Street and walked down the side of the house to my flat, thinking about my empty bank balance and my lack of job prospects. Staving off the beginnings of a good bawl, I made myself a black tea.

My flat comprised an all-in-one kitchenette, sitting room and bedroom. Toilet and shower were outside, across a bricked patio. Not ideal, but better than returning to my childhood bedroom and having to observe my mother’s insane rules on … everything.

After I’d finished the tea, I took a deep breath and rang the number Bets had given me.

‘You come over tonight, Ms Sharp,’ said Mr Hara, after I’d explained who I was and how Bets had recommended I contact him.

‘Err, I guess so?’ I was a bit taken aback at the speedy invitation. Still, it wasn’t like I had anything else to do. ‘What time?’

‘After dark. You come to the back. Knock twice. Soft knock…’

‘You got touchy neighbours?’ I asked.

‘No. My wife is a jealous woman. She doesn't like me talking with females alone.’

I laughed, a little nervously. Mr Hara sounded a bit trippy. What was Bets thinking? And how had she come across him? I hoped he wasn’t a former patient of hers. ‘Errr … well … maybe—’

‘Maaa. Maaa.’ His laugh was like the sound of a newborn lamb. ‘Kidding! Come at 7pm. I'll be waiting for you.’

‘Mr Hara?’

‘Yes, Ms Sharp?’

‘Why am I coming to see you, exactly?’ I know that sounded silly but I wasn’t really sure why Bets had referred me to him.

Mr Hara gave the lamb laugh again. ‘Well … if you're any good, maybe I'll give you a job.’

The magic words.

Tara should know better than to get involved when she learns the job involves mob boss Johnny Vogue. But she's broke and the magic words 'retainer' and 'bonus' have been mentioned. Soon Tara finds herself sucked into an underworld 'situation' that has her running for her life.

bookauthor: Marianne Delacourt
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