Orenda Books, 10 January 2019
PB, e 277pp
Today I'm joining my first blogtour of 2019, for Steph Broadribb's third Lori Anderson thriller, Deep Dirty Truth. I'm grateful to Orenda and to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour and especially to Steph herself for sending me a PERSONALLY DEDICATED copy of the proof (see picture, left).
This might be a good place to confess that I'm a fully signed up member of #TeamLori so this might not be the most objective review on the world. On the other hand I wouldn't be reviewing this if I didn't think it was amazing.
Right, what do we have here? First, some backstory. Lori Anderson, single mum to daughter Dakota, works as a bounty hunter in Florida. It's a dangerous living, but she needs to earn as Dakota is in remission from leukaemia and needs ongoing treatment. Recently things have been particularly difficult because her work, and her history, have brought the attentions of the Miami Mob, ruthless killers who want revenge for Lori's killing ten years before of her abusive husband, a Mob lynchpin. But she's also got together again with Dakota's father, legendary bounty hunter JT, also wanted by the Mob - so there's that.
All of this unfolded in the first two books, Deep Down Dead and Deep Blue Trouble, and I won't say any more about the detail of what happened because spoilers - if you haven't read these books you should, so go and do that, right? If you have, you can carry on.
So where were we? Back to Deep Dirty Truth, I think.
Broadribb doesn't mess around with her opening. Going about her normal business in the opening chapter, wishing a couple of pages, Lori's been abducted, bound and hooded and slung in the back of a van. The head of the Mob, Old Man Bonchese, wants to make her an offer (that she can't refuse, naturally). She's to "rescue" one of his men, Carlton North, who's in FBI witness protection. Succeed, and her debt is written off. Fail and she's dead.
As are Dakota and JT.
It's a daunting task, taking Lori into immense danger while stoking up her fears for her recently united, oh-so-fragile family.
And Lori, being Lori, swallows the danger, lays her plans, and sets to work.
One of the things I adore about these books by Broadribb is her portrayal of this capable, determined woman, Lori. The closest character I can think of as a comparison if you haven't read the books (in which case you shouldn't be reading this, should you?) is Villanelle in the BBC's Killing Eve series. Not in the sense that Villanelle is a deranged killer - Lori is the very opposite - but in the practical, dauntless competence she shows. (And yes, she is breaking inside, not least at the danger to her family, but the job's got to be done, OK?)
Sorting this means she needs to discover that deep, dirty truth of the title - a truth that'll put all her troubles of the past ten years in a new light...
In a sense this is a classic template for a thriller - there are echoes of The Thirty Nine Steps, for example - a protagonist who's cut off suddenly from her own life, forced to live by her wits and with only limited time to put things right. Not by any means a new idea. Yet just as in music, so here the constraints of a classic form show Broadribb at the top her game, keeping this pacy, relentless novel rattling along at almost breathtaking speed and building tension on tension as the bodycount increases.
It's very much a Lori focussed story - while we do see what's happening with JT and Dakota, and there is some action for them, that's quite subsidiary (though I think the consequences may matter in future books - there is some definite Feelings stuff going on for Lori and JT...) making for a very linear plot, which also stokes the atmosphere considerably.
In all, a superb addition to the Lori canon.
You can get Deep Dirty Truth from Hive Books, Waterstones, Blackwells or Amazon as well as lots of other places. And the blogtour continues until the end of January - see the poster below for the list of brilliant bloggers taking part!