Welcome to the nbmagazine.co.uk stop on the blog tour for Deep Dark Night by Steff Broadribb!

Here’s a little info about the book:

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…

And about author Steff Broadribb:

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 www.crimethrillergirl.com

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.

And here’s Paul Burke’s review of Deep Dark Night:

“ …Chicago is
One town that won’t let you down
It’s my kind of town”

Chicago is a place Lori Anderson doesn’t want to be right now, why would she, she should be with her little daughter Dakota in sunny Florida. It’s only her obligation to the FBI that keeps her in the windy city, she’s the lynchpin in their latest operation against the mob. Of course, last year her home state Florida wasn’t so cool either, see Deep Dirty Truth (2019). That’s been sorted mostly, the catch is it was only with the help of Special Agent Alex Monroe – so this is a quid pro quo. Not to say that Monroe is OCD about it but he gets his rocks off busting mafioso top dogs and the man Lori is helping him catch is Cabressa, the one that got away. Incidentally, making Monroe look like a dick in the process and costing him a promotion. Monroe’s hold on Lori is pretty tight because she wouldn’t go up against the mob and all that entails if she had a choice. For Lori, it’s classic rock and hard place, except it’s not so much getting caught between them as permanently camping there. Maybe one day that may change but for now. . .

I like Lori, it’s easy to admire her ballsy upfront attitude but she’s got savvy too, real heart, a born survivor, prey turned predator. When the chips are down she’s your gal and the chips are falling as you read this. The old TV shows, I mean really old, used to have cliff hangers, the hero bound and gagged, hanging over the edge of a cliff with a bomb tied to their tail and the clock ticking, doomed. Of course, he, it was always a he, survived, how is that possible? What clever solution emerged in the gloom? “With one bound he was free.” Why waste time on explanations? You may think I’m rambling but here’s the thing: Lori often finds herself trapped, no way out, that is until Broadribb’s ingenious plotting comes to the fore and Lori manages to execute a clever plan and walk away whole(ish). Deep Dark Night sees her in deeper do do than ever before. It’s really going to take something to get out from under this time.

You know what it’s like, the more you tell kids not to do something the more it appeals to them. So the warnings against going into the basement, dark, damp, rat-infested were just futile. Mostly, the snooping around is harmless but not today, none of the kids will forget today. As soon as they break in the door they realise something is wrong, that smell for a start, cleaning fluids and something rotten, putrid, dead. That’s when they see the guy tied to the chair, he’s dead alright. Hawk, being kind of responsible, says they’re going to have to report it, then he steps closer to the man for a better look and that’s when he screams.

Cloud Gate, Millennium Park, Chicago (you know ‘the Bean’ Kapoor). Lori Anderson is waiting for her contact, all she knows is he’ll be wearing a Chicago Bulls cap and carrying a Starbucks take away cup (other brands are available). FBI Special Agent Alex Monroe is somewhere in the background, as is her partner, JT. And, as we know, Dakota is in Florida. This job will square her with Monroe and she can go home. Lori is approached by a guy in his forties, he introduces himself as Critten. Lori has something to sell, the gold chess set from the 1986 Vegas legends game, worth a cool $1.35M. Nobody, but nobody, covets that more than Critten’s boss, Mr. Cabressa, head of one of the most violent crime families in one of the most violent cities in America. Lori is prepared to let Cabressa have it for $800,000, cash, a steal, which it is of course – stolen. Lori shows Critten one of the pawns while he quizzes her on how she came by this rare treasure. Of course, at no point does she mention the FBI, so the truncated story she feeds Critten is that she took from a guy who took from the guy who owned it and no she didn’t kill him, he was already dead. Lori is hoping Critten will buy this but he suddenly asks her if she works for Herron, that throws her, she has no idea who the hell that might be so that’s what she tells him. He hands the gold pawn back and walks away. Shit.

Back in her hotel room Lori, JT and Monroe are kicking over the traces of a failed sting, getting stolen goods into Cabressa’s hands. Monroe isn’t giving up that easily though and Lori feels obligated. She asks him about Herron. Apparently a new player in Chicago, behind several consignments heists and club robberies, a serious thorn in the side of Cabressa but not their concern. All is not lost, Lori receives a text: DuSable Bridge, 30 mins, bring the pawn, be alone. She can just about make it, she sets off with JT following but not too close and that’s when it all starts to go pear-shaped, for the first but, definitely, not the last time.

Eventually, Cabressa agrees to a deal but this isn’t going to be straightforward. He’s arranged an exclusive poker game for Friday night suite 6311, Skyland Tower, the exchange will take place there. Even with the FBI in close proximity Lori knows that this is as dangerous as life gets outside a war zone. There are just two problems. One of Lori’s own making, the other is that someone else, some one with a grudge, someone who wants revenge, knows about the game and is intent on playing the winning hand. Losers do not get to walk away. Tensions are rising then a power cut puts the building into lockdown. This is going to be a Deep Dark Night.

This is a thriller that can be read as a stand alone, the relationship between Lori and JT and Monroe is sketched out well enough for that but it would be a richer reading experience armed with the knowledge of one of the earlier books. I really liked Deep Dirty Truth (#3) in which you get the reunion of Lori and JT and the meshing of her future relationship with Special Agent Monroe properly laid out.

Deep Dark Night is fast paced, gutsy, elegantly plotted and thoroughly entertaining. This is perhaps the cleverest plot of the four novels and the style is a little more polished, this is an accomplished thriller. Broadribb is on top of her game with this one and I’d love to see where Lori goes from here. Lori is a breath of fresh air, the usual macho misogynist bullshit and tropes have no place here.

My kind of novel, Deep Dark Night is.

Paul Burke 4/4

Deep Dark Night by Steff Broadribb
Orenda Books 9781913193171 pbk Mar 2020