I really could just say, "You know that book that I (and just about everyone else) was so excited about a few months back? Well, the sequel is out now, and it's just as good, if not better. Everything I wrote before still applies." That'd be cheating, and not 100% accurate, but close enough I could do it with a clear conscience.
But let's see if we can give it a bit more justice...
When we left Lori, she was agreeing to work with an FBI Agent to bring someone in, in exchange for this, he'll help exonerate JT from the crimes he's been accused of. Lori has brought this particular escaped con in before -- Gibson "The Fish" Fletcher, a thief and convicted murderer -- and Agent Monroe assumes that should give her a leg up. This hunt takes her from coast to coast (and coast to coast), and even across the border. I'd like to think that her career before these last two cases was a whole lot more benign, because what she goes through in the couple of weeks recorded in these two novels is probably more than most people go through in their lives.
Lori brings a PI she worked with before to track Fletcher in to help with some background, and Monroe hooks her up with a group of bounty hunters that he has experience with. Lori and her PI get along well, and work together even better. The bounty hunters, on the other hand, just don't seem to want to work with Lori. The contrast between the people she's allied with in this hunt is striking and helps the reader get a real grasp of Lori's character. Every other character in this book deserves some discussion -- well, most of them do -- but I can't do that without ruining the book. Let me just say that I'd be glad to see everyone that survives this book intact in the future -- and maybe even some of those that don't.
This case is primarily Lori using her brain (and her PI's) to get her man -- yeah, there's some fisticuffs, some gunplay -- but this is about Lori being smarter than anyone else in the case. Similarly, in Deep Down, Lori takes some real physical punishment, but this time the punishment is more mental and psychological -- she doesn't escape without some serious bruising (at least...), but primarily it's the emotional stress and punishment she's given while on the hunt for Fletcher that will take its toll.
In Deep Down the threat to Dakota was obvious and immanent -- this time out, it's more abstract, theoretical. Lori's used a little money she just made to send her to camp. But if Lori can't keep JT out of prison (or worse), getting him as a donor to help treat Dakota's leukaemia is going to be near impossible. This is a nice change -- you can't have Dakota in constant peril, nor can you have Lori constantly distracted by her. Don't get me wrong, I don't want her to disappear, or be conveniently occupied all the time, but the reader needs it occasionally.
As for JT? Well, being in prison in a state where one of the major crime lords has a hit out on you isn't exactly easy. We don't get the flashbacks to his training Lori as much, but Lori is constantly returning to his lessons for guidance -- so his presence is felt throughout the book, even if he's locked up the whole time. That training is what ultimately helps her -- even if she has to ignore a good chunk of it, naturally, watching her decide when to ignore his training is painful, because she picks bad times and ways to do so. Lori is keeping something from JT -- which is going to come back to bite her. I get why she's doing it, and can sympathize -- but I know she's a fictional character and I know what usually happens to fictional characters who do this kind of thing. Am truly hoping that Broadribb is going ti zag here when we all expect her to zig -- but even if she zigs, I expect the execution of it to be better than my imagination.
It may seem like a little thing, or at least a strange thing to comment on in a post like this -- but I really appreciated the way that Broadribb worked in a recap of Deep Down Dead to the opening pages here. It's a lost art anymore, and I just wanted to take a second and say way to go.
One minor criticism: it was much easier to tell that this was a book written by a Brit writing an American.
This was a fast thriller, with a story that propels you to keep reading -- you'll read more than you should per sitting, because you just can't put it down. Broadribb writes like a seasoned pro, with panache and skill. Lori remains one of my favorite new characters for this year, and the rest of the cast of characters are just about as good. I can't wait to see what Broadribb puts poor Lori, JT and Dakota through next.