#DeepDownDead #StephBroadribb #review
Yes, I am so late to the party with this one it's embarrassing. Author Alex Caan recommended it as THE must read debut, as did so many book bloggers whose excitement and enjoyment of this novel was barely containable in the 140 characters they were restricted to in their abundance of tweets!
But better late than never! And I have to say, Deep Down Dead is down right brilliant. With such a catchy title and such a eye catching front cover, the story completely lives up to the promise of something full of pace, adventure and intense drama. This is an edgy debut that absolutely packs a punch. Broadribb's energy and vigour ricochets out of every sentence and every page.
The protagonist, Lori Anderson is tough and feisty. She is a bounty hunter in Florida but coming under more emotional and financial pressure as a single mum whose 9 year old daughter Dakota suffers from Leukaemia and the hospital bills are piling up high. Offered a job that she can not afford to turn down, she is left with no choice but to take her daughter along with her. It should be straight forward, it should be a way to make a 'fast buck' but things are never that simple......The fugitive she's assigned to haul back to court is JT, her former mentor; a man who has taught her everything she knows but also knows her murky past. Not only that, but a man who is involved with several very unscrupulous groups of people and criminal activities so it isn't long before the three day journey that should have been simple and straightforward becomes life threateningly dangerous.
The most important and impressive thing about this debut crime thriller is the character of Lori. I have never met anyone like her before. Even though I have little in common with her, I found that within a few pages I was completely on her side, part of her life and fully committed to following her story wherever it might take me. She's a breath of fresh air. She's brave, feisty and raw yet she's also vulnerable, under pressure and straightaway it's obvious from the dialogue with her daughter, she's a great mum who will always prioritise her daughter above all else. I liked her narrative voice which is punchy and full of energy.
"Course, I should have guessed just where my curiosity would get me, but right then I had no idea that the new life I'd built for myself and my daughter would be shot to shit inside of twenty four hours."
Lori speaks very directly to the reader and there is a real sense of immediacy in the writing which means the reader cannot help but get involved with her story and her character. I enjoyed the conversational style of the writing. I also liked that even though Lori is a tough woman with an unusual career, she is also sensitive, caring and insightful. Lori is the perfect balance of strength, resilience and drive with a troubled past and emotional present which makes her intriguing and exciting to read about but also convincing and believable as a person. I liked that even though Lori is caught up in a world of criminals, carries a gun and on the one hand is confident woman who is able to face the consequences of her actions and decisions, she is also not afraid to show her emotions or reactions. She is flawed and fallible. She is not weak or a victim, but she has to confront the ramifications of her actions and behaviour and work out how to resolve situations she unwittingly finds herself embroiled in. She's honest.
"It was because I'd broken his rules.... and it seemed he couldn't forgive me for that. .....I'd never felt more alone."
I liked that Lori kept hinting of the darkness buried in her past or of what adventure was to come - she's the queen of cliffhanger chapter endings!
"I should have stayed right there, or gone straight home. But I didn't."
I also thought the relationship between Lori and JT was very well written. The development of their relationship and the dynamics between them are well controlled and add a higher level of tension, suspense and depth. It's an intense, complex relationship and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the characterisation of JT as much as Lori and thought he was as intriguing and well developed as Lori. Broadribb is able to really bring her characters alive and strikes the perfect balance between fictionally fascinating yet convincing.
This novel is a good 330 pages long and although the story hurtles along at a rapid pace, it is full of detail and full of character development. It's a story you can invest in and reap the benefits from. It's a story that can completely take you away from the real world for a while and it was like watching an exceptionally good film or binging on a box set for the evening. So many brilliant reviews and quotes have already been made about this book it is hard to find anything new or original to say about it so I'm not going to try. I would just like to finish by borrowing the adjectives "hard boiled and heart breaking" though as I think this really captures the success and appeal of the book.
And Deep Down Dead is the first in a series - there was a sneak peak at book 2 at the end which was very tantalising! I'm absolutely sure there is a huge fan base already waiting for the next book in the series! Broadribb has made such an impression with her debut and it will be great to read any future instalments.
Deep Down Dead was published by Orenda Books in October 2016.
Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego - Crime Thriller Girl - she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.
Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens.
DEEP DOWN DEAD is her debut novel.
For more recommendations and reviews you can follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or check out my website www.bibliomaniacuk.co.uk