Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Review of Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb (Orenda, 2017)

Lori Anderson makes her living as a bounty hunter in Florida, but is struggling to pay the medical bills for her sick, nine-year old daughter, Dakota.  Desperate for cash she heckles her boss into letting her chase down a major bounty.  There are two snags, however.  The bounty is JT, her former mentor and lover, and she needs to take her daughter on the trip.  She finds JT in West Virginia, but straightaway things start to go wrong.  The Miami Mob and a theme-park paedophile ring are also searching for JT and when Dakota is snatched by one of them the stakes skyrocket. Lori is not about to forfeit her daughter or the bounty without a fight.

Deep Down Dead is a crime thriller that follows the exploits of sassy bounty hunter and single-mother, Lori Anderson, in bringing back to Florida the person who taught her everything about her job, JT.  In tow is her ill daughter and a messy past with JT.  The key ingredients to the book are pace, action and tension.  Broadribb keeps the narrative hurtling along as her heroine grapples with JT, the Miami Mob and a paedophile ring working in the Winter Wonderland theme park.  What holds the story together, however, is an endless series of plot devices, many of which felt a little clunky, that stretched believability to the limit. Moreover, the relentless pace meant the tale lacked emotional depth and reflexivity beyond some confused feelings for JT and a desire to rescue the daughter.  Overall then, a Hollywood action thriller that zips along in a series of improbable scenes, propelled by a sassy lead character, a will they/won’t they romance, and fear for a kidnapped child.

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