23rd April 2017
Gallows Drop by Mari Hannah, crime thriller set in Northumberland (“a real hanging suspense”) ...
Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb, thriller set in the United States.
Deep Down Dead is an all American thriller. A real page-turner, full of pulsating action. It sucks the reader in from the very start through to the nail-biting conclusion.
It is all about a peculiarly American phenomenon – the bounty hunter. Bondsmen (for a fee) offer to post bail for a suspected criminal. The bail, though, is forfeited if the suspect does not turn up for a court appearance. If they attempt to vanish (as a fair number do…) before the appearance, then the bondsman employs a bounty hunter to track them down and bring them in. The bounty hunter earns between 10% and 15% as his or her fee – it can be very lucrative.
Lori Anderson is a Florida based bounty hunter. Her 9-year old daughter, Dakota, has leukaemia (currently in remission) and she has to pay her overdue medical fees. She begs her bondsman, Quinn, to give her a job that will earn her $15,000 to bring back a fugitive from West Virginia. There are, though, two issues. The first is that she cannot find a baby sitter for Dakota (she will have to come with her on the trip), and the second is that the fugitive she is going to pick up is a guy called JT – whom she has not seen for ten years, but who used to be her mentor (and also her lover…). We sense this is not one that will go smoothly, and it doesn’t.
After a small diversion (no more for fear of a spoiler), the three of them begin the journey back from West Virginia, with JT cuffed and tied in the back of Lori’s Silverado. Then it all goes seriously wrong… What follows is a heart-stopping chase through Virginia and Georgia down into Florida – with bad guys a plenty in attendance. JT has offended both the very dubious owner of half of Florida’s theme parks and also the Miami mafia. They are each out to silence him – and to use Lori and Dakota to get to him.
Deep Down Dead is an absolutely great read. It is remarkably and sensitively written. Apart from the build-up of tension (and the blood and guts that come with it), the book also covers the relationship that grows between the three of them and the very natural fears of Lori as she places her daughter in danger.
You would think that such a book has to have an American writer, but Deep Down Dead does not. Steph Broadribb is a Buckinghamshire lass who (and this is the relevant bit) grew up partly in the States and actually trained as a bounty hunter in California. She clearly knows her stuff…
Deep Down Dead is a debut novel. The end of the book sets up the sequel. I hope it is as good a read when it appears.
Tony for the TripFiction team
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