Deep Down Dead, by Steph Broadribb – book review

Steph Broadribb has a new book out, and my review of it is here. As Deep Dirty Truth is the third book featuring kick-ass bounty hunter Lori Anderson, I decided I had better warm up by reading Deep Down Dead, the first in the series, and speed-reading its sequel, Deep Blue Trouble, which I previously reviewed. I wrote at that time that I had found myself reading Deep Down Dead too slowly, because the language was rhythmic enough for me to speak it out loud, and blogging deadlines had caused me to abandon it in favour of Blue. I’m glad I gave myself the time to enjoy it properly this time. 

Cover of Deep Down DeadGiven the choice, you should definitely read these books in order. Down Dead gives us Lori Anderson’s back story as we learn how she has found her vocation as a bounty hunter and what it means that she is now hired to bring to justice Robert James ‘JT’ Tate. It’s an assignment that goes wrong almost immediately, professionally and emotionally. The relationship between Anderson and JT involves utter devotion and a wilful determination on both sides to mistrust and unacknowledge that devotion. The dynamic between the two is done real nice, as Anderson would say: there’s never any indication that she is not the prime protagonist yet a theme of the relationship is that she is the pupil to JT’s teacher. That’s important, in order to give Anderson a professional vulnerability and some depth to go with undoubted sass. I wonder at times whether this undermines a little the concept of a highly skilled female lead, but I guess it is a factor of a male-dominated trade. For an obviously excellent and well-respected bounty hunter, she makes oodles of mistakes: that’s partly because of the personal worry that arises from things that happen during the thriller, but it’s also, I suspect, because what is normally an instinctive way of acting becomes more self-conscious when trying to remember JT’s rules for engagement.

In my review of Blue I mentioned that Anderson would make an excellent Bond, and that parts of the book remind me of Goldfinger. I think that Down Dead is equally cinematic. It has set piece confrontations, chases (on foot and in specialist vehicles like the best films), even a kind of villain’s lair and there’s plenty of suspense. It’s Diamonds are Forever and Live and Let Die. There’s a relentless energy on the page, but all the running and jumping energises the reader. This is a thriller worthy of the name. I really enjoyed it.

The end of Down Dead carries straight on to Blue. I notice some slight differences in the protagonist’s use of language but then the dynamics of the second book are very different. Spoiler alert: Deep Dirty Truth continues this development. But do read this one first, would you?

Get Deep Down Dead here (affiliate link).

Thanks to Orenda Books for the review copy.

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