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Finley’s Last Chapter [fiction]

“Hi, my name is Finley,” she writes on the scrap of paper with a broken pencil Georgia gave her earlier. “You can blame Georgia for this, for what I am about to write, it was at her suggestion. Well, insistence, that I write it all down, how we came to this moment in time—” She pauses and looks out across the ink black darkness, straining to see anything moving, but sees nothing. It’s all gone quiet.

Too quiet, the incessant shelling having stopped a few hours earlier. No one knows what it means. Was it the proverbial calm before the storm, or maybe the eye of the storm? Did it matter which? The small pockets of resistance fighters, like her small group, were losing the war. She isn’t even sure what it is they are fighting for anymore.

Survival? That was a joke.

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Deep Blue Trouble, by Steph Broadribb


Author: Steph Broadribb
Publisher: Orenda Books
ISBN: 9781910633939
Genre: Thriller/Suspense


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.


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!

The Cuban Affair, by Nelson deMille


Author: Nelson deMille
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781501183959
Genre: Suspense


Daniel Graham MacCormick—Mac for short—seems to have a pretty good life. At age thirty-five he’s living in Key West, owner of a forty-two-foot charter fishing boat, The Maine. Mac served five years in the Army as an infantry officer with two tours in Afghanistan. He returned with the Silver Star, two Purple Hearts, scars that don’t tan, and a boat with a big bank loan. Truth be told, Mac’s finances are more than a little shaky.

One day, Mac is sitting in the famous Green Parrot Bar in Key West, contemplating his life, and waiting for Carlos, a hotshot Miami lawyer heavily involved with anti-Castro groups. Carlos wants to hire Mac and The Maine for a ten-day fishing tournament to Cuba at the standard rate, but Mac suspects there is more to this and turns it down. The price then goes up to two million dollars, and Mac agrees to hear the deal, and meet Carlos’s clients—a beautiful Cuban-American woman named Sara Ortega, and a mysterious older Cuban exile, Eduardo Valazquez.

What Mac learns is that there is sixty-million American dollars hidden in Cuba by Sara’s grandfather when he fled Castro’s revolution. With the “Cuban Thaw” underway between Havana and Washington, Carlos, Eduardo, and Sara know it’s only a matter of time before someone finds the stash—by accident or on purpose. And Mac knows if he accepts this job, he’ll walk away rich…or not at all.


They sure nailed this one when they pegged it ‘Suspense’. I was kept in suspense right through till page 374 before anything happened, which means Folks that right up until page 374, nothing happened.

I mean, nothing interesting that is!

Talk about building suspense, huh! You would have thought there was something special about this book that it took sooo long to get where it was going. So long, in fact, it’s taken me nearly 3 weeks to finish reading this plodding, sorry excuse for a novel.

Let’s start at the beginning with ruggedly handsome ex-military, Daniel ‘Mac’ MacCormick now living in Key West, Miami. Mac—the captain of a pleasure fishing boat—is approached by Carlos, a lawyer who, we are told is a hot-shot with anti-Castro groups based in Miami, offering Mac a ten-day fishing trip into Cuban waters. But with a twist, if he agrees, he will be paid 3 million to help Carlos and his group smuggle out $60 million right from under the Regime’s nose. Cue beautiful young Sara Ortega, a Cuban American, and the mysterious Eduardo Valazquez, and we have the ingredients for a great Cuban soap opera and, as the story unfolds, this is exactly what this feels like.

The paper-thin characters are so cliched it’s a joke. At one point, when Mac and Sara inevitably fall into the sack for the obligatory sex, I did wonder if the author was writing himself a little wish-fulfillment, given the characters had only known one another for less than a week. I mean, really?

The premise of this novel—if you read the back cover blurb—is one of action, adventure, intrigue, and yes, suspense. However, the execution (and I tell you, by the end of reading this convoluted drivel, I felt like I was at an execution) was one long drawn out exercise in mundanity. deMille has Mac and Sara traipsing around Havana with a sightseeing group from Yale—yes, Yale—their flimsy cover while in Cuba. And, in between the endless moments of false jeopardy, we’re inundated with one after another info dumps on the political climate of Cuba, and it’s sordid history. And don’t get me started on the endless references throughout to Hemingway, his work, and life. It became redundant really fast!

Add to that, the whole plot lacks any sense of credibility whatsoever. Midway through all the sightseeing Mac and Sara do stop at a prison where, we are told, a number of American service men died and were buried. A flimsy sub-plot ensues with our protagonists coming into possession of the remains of the dead to repatriate back to America. But like the rest of this novel, we never get to see ‘how‘ the bones are recovered, as everything happens off-stage. Everything is a mysterious slight-of hand. In other words, it was probably too much effort on the part of the author to actually show the ‘reality’ of digging up bones from a maximum security prison, even if this is Cuba we’re talking about, where guards can be bribed.

The dialogue is about the standard of an American soap opera, cliched and, at times, vulgar. Some of Mac’s quips and asides, which are supposed to be witty and funny, came across as making this 35 year-old ex-military vet sound juvenile. Sara, in support, seems to have very little to say beyond feeding the right lines to Mac, and instantly falling in love with him at the right moment. The only character who seem to have any sense of reality about him, is Jack, the grizzled Vietnam vet who crews Mac’s boat.

All-in-all, the standard of writing was uninspired and lacked plausibility, and the characters were trite flimsy cliches and, as such, it was impossible to care about who these people were and what happened to them. Meanwhile, the paradise setting of Cuba wasn’t used for more than a historical backdrop, and seemed a missed opportunity.

Two-thumbs down!