Title: DEEP BLUE TROUBLE
Author: Steph Broadribb
Publisher: Orenda Books
Single-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT—Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything—alive and kicking.
Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row.
Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson “The Fish” Fletcher, and JT walks free. Following Fletcher from Florida to California, Lori teams up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up, Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything.
WHAT I THOUGHT
Steph Broadribb does it again. She’s followed up a hugely successful debut novel featuring bounty hunter, Lori Anderson, and goes one better—knocking this out of centre field for a sure-fired home run! It’s difficult for any author to follow up a debut novel and score lightning in a bottle once, but twice? Oh, yeah, trust me when I say this one is electric from beginning to end.
Broadribb’s sophomore novel picks up a few days after where the first one ends, and just keeps on going at full-throttle. The pace and tension never give up, never stop, and make for a fast, nerve-jangling read. As Lori puts it all on the line for her daughter and love, JT.
Along with a few returning characters, FBI agent, Malone, whose pressuring Lori on one side, and JT now banged up in prison awaiting trial, we meet Red, a retired PI who’s a voice of reason to Lori. And fellow bounty hunter, and his team, Dez McGregor. At first, Lori locks horns with McGregor and the idea of working in a team—at Malone’s insistence—but, in the end, after a botched raid into Mexico to capture Fletcher goes sideways, both begin to trust and respect each another. But not without a few bumps in the road. Not to spoil it for readers, we know from book one how strong willed and single minded Lori can be, and working with others has never been in her skill-set, which just adds to the tension.
Throw into the already charged mix Fletcher’s mistress, Mia, and her volatile gangster-associate husband, and you have several subplots and tightly woven threads, that unravel and tighten as Broadribb leads us on a merry chase. Unlocking clues along the way and blindsiding us, the reader, never mind Lori.
The dialogue is smart, snappy, tense, and spot on, while the characters themselves are as real and flawed as they come. Brittle, tough, antsy, everyone is hiding a personal secret. Secrets that are slowly revealed through out, which just add great layers to the cast, who you can readily identify with. Yes, even Fletcher and Mia who, in the end, are two star-crossed lovers who you can at least sympathize with, in part, due to their circumstances.
Broadribb, gives everyone a complexity that you don’t often see and does it with ease. Her characters pop along with the story, that leaves you breathless as we ride along on Lori’s emotional roller coaster ride—racing from Florida to San Diego, Mexico and back. Leave your tourist guides at home, and strap on your body armour, this is going to get rough.
Can she figure it out, can she find the strength get the job done, and can she put all the fragmented pieces together in time? You bet your damn life she can.
Up there with the best of them, Steph Broadribb is one to watch for. Don’t miss out on some great writing, join the fan club now!
Rating: 8.5 / 10