Deep Blue Trouble, by Steph Broadribb – book review

DEEP BUE TROUBLE final cover.jpgDeep Blue Trouble is published today and we welcome the blog tour. Hello! And in the same way that protagonist Lori Anderson is aware that the clock’s ticking for her to deliver her side of a dodgy deal, I must gather my thoughts immediately and dig deep and find the truth about this book.

Here’s a twist: it wasn’t meant to be this way. About a month ago, knowing of today’s blog tour stop and wanting to be really prepared, I picked up the first in the Lori Anderson series, Deep Down Dead, which has been calling from the to-be-read pile for too long. I didn’t get very far, but the fault was not with Steph Broadribb. My problem with Deep Down Dead was that I found the language amazing: rhythmic and poetic, it demanded to be read out loud and rolled around the tongue. I still, badly, want to read Deep Down Dead but I need to be more disciplined. Deep Blue Trouble, on the other hand, I devour at a single sitting. The language is of no lower quality but is more direct and less musical and I will be interested to explore the character development in the first novel and see whether Lori Anderson’s experiences lead to a change.

Lori Anderson is a bounty hunter. Because of some stuff that’s described in Deep Down Dead, she has to apprehend a dangerous criminal. She’s given clue and counter-clue as to his whereabouts and can truly trust almost no one. Almost everyone else would walk away from the case, but Lori’s personal circumstances make her absolutely desperate to succeed.

Wow there are twists in this. We get quite a bit of much-needed exposition but the story moves at a hundred miles an hour. One twist had me annoyed (because hey it’s been done before) but within a couple of pages we were in quite a new direction. There are about ten endings and somehow that works because – given what’s happened – a single ending would have been far too bathetic.

The next James Bond?

In Lori Anderson, Broadribb gives us an amazing lead character. She’s tough and tender, she’s collected and impetuous, she’s brave and flawed. It’s a little curious that the majority of the book is written in the first person (not all of it is, which ought to matter but doesn’t) because you wonder who Lori would trust enough to tell her story to – though it works as we really feel as readers that we get to know her and every now and again Broadribb gets a chance to dial down the hectic speed which makes the whole thing seem more realistic. Lori has time to reflect on some of the consequences of her actions: she’s aware of the moral conflicts in her trade and I wonder whether this perspective will be developed further as the series progresses. Either way, I want far more of this excellent and multi-dimensional character, both in this series and outside it. Impossible though it may be, Lori Anderson would make a brilliant James Bond. A sequence in the book that reminds me of a scene from Goldfinger helps make the point.

This literary thriller is well aware of what’s come before it and I suspect there are lots of references I miss. As I write this, the world is watching Donald Trump’s ridiculous response to the Fire and Fury book by Michael Wolff. Has Broadribb given a particular character a particular name just to have fun with the sentence

Donald was telling the truth

Probably not. But a meeting with a character called Mia in a fifties diner, as a fairly clear shout out to Pulp Fiction, seems like more solid a spot. If you find others, do let me know.

I want to go back and read Drop Down Dead now. But you should read Deep Blue Trouble. Root for Lori Anderson.

You can get Deep Blue Trouble here.

Thanks to Orenda Books for the review copy. And check out the other stops on the blog tour.

Deep Blue blog poster 2018.jpg

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