Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb @crimethrillgirl #BookReview

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong.

The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past. Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

Breathtakingly fast-paced, both hard-boiled and heart-breaking, Deep Down Dead is a simply stunning debut from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.

Sometimes I need somebody to come along and give me a shake or a prod with a sharp stick so I'm reminded to read the brilliant book that's been waiting patiently on my shelf for months. This is never more true than for Deep Down Dead, a book I've been meaning to read for ages. The upcoming publication of the sequel, Deep Blue Trouble finally spurred me into action though - I ended up reading it in a day and now I've finished kicking myself I'm able to share my review!
I read Deep Down Dead on Christmas Day and it may be the reason why our Christmas Dinner was a little later than planned... I was so completely gripped by this exhilarating debut, from the intriguing prologue through to the very last page. The plot is fast-paced, thrilling and with the sorts of twists and turns that meant I had to put off cooking the vegetables while I just read a few more pages to find out what happened next. I don't tend to watch many action thriller films but if they were more like Deep Down Dead then I would, there's a definite cinematic feel to the book, the vividly realised locations on what turns out to be the road trip from hell, the explosive fight scenes that had me on the edge of my seat, and the complex relationship between Lori and JT makes this a superlative thrill ride.
The absolute highlight of this novel though has to be its central character, Lori Anderson. Once a stripper trapped in an abusive marriage, she is now a skilled bounty hunter. It's worth pointing out here that Steph Broadribb took her research into bounty hunters very seriously - so much so indeed that she actually trained as one herself! Lori, then is a formidable woman to come up against. However, she's far more than an action figure with boobs; both the reason for her becoming a bounty hunter in the first place and what drives her to take on jobs such as this one mean she is also so very real - a working woman and single mother who will do what she has to in order to protect her daughter. Her motive for accepting this assignment is to raise funds for Dakota's medical bills in her continuing fight against leukaemia, and after her daughter is snatched she will stop at nothing to rescue her. She might be strong, resourceful and more than a match for most of the men she comes up against but she's also confused, scared and desperate. It's this nuance of character that makes her so completely believable and gives the book its heart. Her relationship with JT is handled with similar skill; their previous relationship was passionate but ultimately doomed and Lori feels she needs to keep up the barriers between them now in order to protect them all. When Dakota is kidnapped however, she is forced to work with JT again and I loved seeing the mutual respect between the pair despite their messy history. JT many have once been her mentor and he's definitely a man of few words but he understands what she's now capable of, and as they realise they now have to work together they become very much a partnership rather than him becoming the hero ready to save the day.
As they learn the reasons behind the danger they find themselves in, they realise their enemies are coming at them from more than one front and this really ratcheted up the tension as they face separate. lethal threats. The antagonists, particularly those responsible for taking Dakota are truly terrifying individuals and the plot involving the theme parks is sinister and heartbreaking.
Deep Down Dead really is one of those books that just seems to effortlessly combine all the right ingredients for a first-rate thriller; top quality, hard-hitting action that never lets you forget just what is at stake;  characters that you care about; an immersive sense of place that means you can almost feel the Florida sun beating down on you, and a totally authentic writing style that fits perfectly with Lori's character. That there is even some black humour laced within the plot is just the icing on the cake. Thankfully the sequel, Deep Blue Trouble is published this month and I'll be reading it very soon, I can't wait to find out what lies in store for Lori next!

Deep Down Dead is published in the UK by Orenda Books and can be purchased here.

About the Author

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Deep Down Dead is her debut novel.

Twitter - @crimethrillgirl
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