Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.
Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.
For most of us, 2017 promises to be another busy year and as such, time is a precious and valuable commodity. Finding time in our busy schedules full of meetings, media projects and time at the gym to pick up a book is becoming rarer than finding a good candidate for the US Presidential Elections, and we all know how that’s recently turned out! I’ll probably be blacklisted from his next press conference for that comment but if it’s good enough for CNN then it’s good enough for me!
So when I had the chance to pick up Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb I tentatively opened the book and began reading her debut novel. That’s the thing about debuts, you never know what you’re going to get – a little Forest Gump moment – but I didn’t run, I didn’t eat chocolates, I just read and read! Safe to say I devoured it!
From the very first chapter Lori had me hooked. It’s always good to find a book with a colourful female lead and Lori is certainly that. A single mother, hard as nails and a protagonist that doesn’t like guns but has a penchant for pepper spray and stun guns, her personality drives the book!
Things become personal when she’s given the job to collect a fugitive she knows better than most and when they pull up to a gas station in the middle of nowhere things begin to go from bad to worse. It becomes a battle of wits, the temptation to jump in with both feet over caution plays on her mind and Steph plays this part out well.
For me the highlight – or lowlight – of the book comes at the theme park – Winter Wonderland – where we begin to discover the terrible things that Emerson and his cronies have been up to. In parts it’s quite an emotional read and one that certainly raised the blood pressure and anger for this reader. Children are at risk and with the protection the big boss enjoys both in and out of the theme park, it’s almost impossible to bring him to justice. It’s an excellent passage in a book that hardly comes up for air.
There was a moment in the book – towards the end – that I wondered whether it would become clichéd or not but fortunately thanks to good writing and great imagination it didn’t. I can’t and won’t say too much here as it would give the game away but suffice to say the author didn’t fall into the trap that so many do.
With an exciting narrative, a fluid read and colourful characters you’ll like and hate in equal measures, Deep Down Dead is a fantastic book. It will certainly be interesting to see where Lori’s next job takes her.
- Paperback:320 pages
- Publisher:Orenda (5 Jan. 2017)