Published by Orenda Books
Publication date 5 January 2017
Source – review copy
“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.
Breathtakingly fast-paced, both hard-boiled and heart-breaking, Deep Down Dead is a simply stunning debut from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.”
Lori Anderson is desperate for a big money job. A bounty hunter in Florida, she finds herself facing large medical bills after her daughter suffers leukaemia. Worried about meeting those bills and paying the rent she agrees to fetch a bail skip from West Virginia and to deliver him back in three days time. It seems a simple job, too simple for the high bail bond set. Then she finds out the skip is her former mentor. What could JT have got mixed up in that means members of a child exploitation racket and members of a different mob are after his head. And can they make it home in time?
The is a fast, frenetic pace to this story, the action never seems to let up, and neither does the tension. It drags you along, making the reader speed through the chapters to keep up with Lori and JT and their hunt.
There have been stories about female bounty hunters before, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum is a shining example. But don’t expect madcap family members and pockets of comedy with Deep Down Dead. This is a much grittier, darker tale. Lori Anderson is tougher, more hardened and tempestuous. She is a impetuous yet tries to be considered, has a tough exterior that hides deeper emotions. This amalgam of traits makes Lori emerge as a more concrete, rounded character. She is easy to envisage and in turn she enables the reader to easily imagine the other characters in the story.
The main characters are Lori and JT. This isn’t to say that the other characters who appear aren’t depicted well enough or are superfluous, far from it. It just means that the story is driven by these two main characters, most of the narrative is concentrated on them. The reader spends much of the story with them and as a result becomes more invested in their story. The other characters facilitate this, broadening out the story, bring danger and threat to Lori and JT, just as the reader becomes attached to them.
I’m not going to go too much into the story for fear of spoiling it. let me just say that it is an emotive one, it can only ever be emotive when the issue involves child exploitation. It’s very nature means that the reader is invested in Lori and JT, willing them to succeed in their bid for justice, the urgency of doing so all the more pressing.
Steph Broadribb trained as a bounty hunter in the USA and has spent some of her working life out there. This experience shows in Deep Down Dead. The language used feels authentic and doesn’t jar, clipped sentences and phrases used means the reader can hear Lori’s accent when they read and whilst I don’t imagine that Steph found herself in the same predicament as Lori, the fact that she has experience in bounty hunting comes across in the novel.
Deep Down Dead takes the reader on a tumultuous, frenetic ride one where the pace never lets up and the reader is soon caught up in Lori’s race to save the people she loves.
Deep Down Dead is the first in the Lori Anderson series. I am impatiently awaiting the next book from Steph Broadribb.