Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb

Steph Broadribb is probably best known for her blog, Crime Thriller Girl, but that is going to change soon as more read her debut novel Deep Down Dead on Orenda Books. The excellent crime novel begins Lori handcuffed in what appears to be a police station of some kind. Lori is just trying to keep it together as she tries to get something for the story they are asking her to tell, a story she knows she has to tell the cops.

The story is a simple one. Lori has to drive from Florida to West Virginia, pick up a potential bond jumper and get back in three days time. Okay, at this point we know this is not going to turn out to be that simple — if it was then we wouldn’t be reading the book. I don’t want to give too much away with the plot other than Lori has to bring her nine-year-old daughter along for the ride. The action in Deep Down Dead rips along, not only do the characters barely have a chance to catch their breathe, the readers have the same problem. Broadribb’s grasp of writing fast-paced action is first-rate and nimble.

The way those men stared made me feel real naked. Straight-up predators they were. Bailey must have gotten his information wrong. There was no way this house was inhabited by an elderly widow; it was a loveless place with bare-bulb lighting and cracked plaster walls, and Merv’s boys didn’t seem inclined to give JT up that easy. I figured there were two ways things could go. With Dakota waiting in the car out front I had to make sure both ended in my favour.

Gunner looked past me, towards the pup, and nodded.

What happened next flowed real fast. Overeager to obey his master and get started on me, the pup closed his grimy fingers tight around my shoulders and pulled me back towards him. Well, manhandling a girl from behind without invitation is just plain rude.

I thrust my weight rearwards, accelerating fast, using the momentum to throw him off balance. He staggered back. Advantage: me. Whipping round, I slammed the side of my clenched left fist into his temple and followed it real quick with a right-handed punch to the throat.

One-two, the pup hit the floor before he’d barely registered the blows. The semi-automatic fell from his grip. I guessed he was weaker than he’d acted. From his wide-eyed expression and the wheezy gasps he was making at my feet, I reckoned he’d just realised that too.

I kicked his weapon out of reach and spun to face the others.

If you happen to pick up Deep Down Dead, you will see a plethora of blurbs singing out praises for Broadribb’s novel and they are not lying. Deep Down Dead will be one of the better crime fiction books you’ll read in 2017. Broadribb has written a great road trip thriller as Lori, her prisoner and her daughter flee both the cops and criminals chasing them.

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