Deep Dark Night
By Steph Broadribb
Rated: 5 stars *****
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.
She is a member of the crime-themed girl band The Splice Girls.
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, which inspired her Lori Anderson thrillers.
She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens.
Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, was a finalist in the ITW Awards, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts. The sequels, Deep Blue Trouble and Deep Dirty Truth soon followed suit.
My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland, was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.
Fearless Florida bounty-hunter Lori Anderson travels to Chicago to trap the head of a notorious crime family, in a high-stakes, nail-biting mission that sees her trapped in one of the city’s tallest buildings during a blackout…
A city in darkness. A building in lockdown. A score that can only be settled in blood…
Working off the books for FBI Special Agent Alex Monroe, Florida bounty-hunter Lori Anderson and her partner, JT, head to Chicago. Their mission: to entrap the head of the Cabressa crime family. The bait: a priceless chess set that Cabressa is determined to add to his collection.
An exclusive high-stakes poker game is arranged in the penthouse suite of one of the city’s tallest buildings, with Lori holding the cards in an agreed arrangement to hand over the pieces, one by one. But, as night falls and the game plays out, stakes rise and tempers flare.
When a power failure plunges the city into darkness, the building goes into lockdown. But this isn’t an ordinary blackout, and the men around the poker table aren’t all who they say they are. Hostages are taken, old scores resurface and the players start to die.
And that’s just the beginning…
‘A real cracker’ Mark Billingham
‘Fast, confident and suspensful’ Lee Child
‘Like Midnight Run, but much darker … really, really good’ Ian Rankin
I like that this is a book that is published to co-incide with International Women’s Month.
So compelling a suspensful thriller with a fast pace, this is. It is such a page-turner.
Who is Herron, whose identity is hidden.
From the off, I want to know what is lurking in the basement. What secrets can there be. I know, basements and you think of horror. This is however a thriller, so apart from instantly thinking “don’t go down there.” I am as curious as the kids wanting to go there, despite warnings from their parents in the prologue.
Readers then meet, FBI Special Agent Alex Monroe in Chicago and he has a particular interest in Cabressa and the valuable chess pieces he wants for his collection. When more pages are turned and read, the magnitude of these chess pieces become more apparent. They are far from the standard chess pieces and their value is incredibly huge. It’s the start of setting the scene, which is done fast. In comes Lori and JT. Lori needs Alex to be off her back and feels she may be forever in his debt, so she, working off the books, to try and nail Cabressa. Critten is far from pleasant and Lori gives as good as she gets back to him, with his bad remarks. I get the sense that Lori is written to be a strong woman, this much is clear in that she isn’t going to put up with any nonsense and can certainly stand up for herself. The sense of character that comes so quickly is testament to the writing.
After a tense game of poker, it seems that it’s quite a hot relationship between JT and Lori. It’s written well. It’s not at all cringeworthy, which is a good thing.
As locations need to be looked at and there are people to be met, there are gadgets to be used, just to add another layer.
High stake poker games are played, but even if you have never played before, you still get the sense of the importance of the games.
The setting, created by Steph with the family mob against the backdrop of the Skyland Tower is highly sophisticated and the tension is high. The tension is higher still when a chess piece is missing and all power at a vital moment fails and sees Lori in some trouble.
It gets even more interesting when over a tannoy system, people are told that in the company is a theif, a bankrupt, a killer, an illigitimate child, Herron so on. The change in atmosphere to one of paranoia, threat and entrapment becomes very apparent. The writing is really great and captures the mind’s eye perfectly and also leaves you needing to quickly turn the pages to see what will happen next. The fact that Herron is not known, also keeps the suspense going. There are more games and tales of untruths spun as the story goes on.
There’s low oxygen, a gun and no easy way out. All the while, the suspense is mounting.
After all the action, the end is rather satisfying and there is, within that last chapter a little bit of unexpected heartwarmth in how a home is described.