The Short Drop - Matthew FitzSimmons

What a great read. Every once in a while, you try on a new author & find a true gem. That this is a debut novel makes it all the more remarkable.

 

Gibson Vaughn has had a tough life. His mom died young, his dad committed suicide & after hacking into then Senator Benjamin Lombard's emails, he was sent into the marines. But what haunts him to this day is the disappearance of 14 year old Suzanne Lombard. Gibson's father worked for Sen. Lombard & Suzanne was like his little sister. Ten years on, Gibson spends his days job hunting & worrying about mortgage payments for his ex-wife & daughter. 

But the past isn't done with him. Enter George Abe. He was Lombard's security chief in the old days & complicit in Gibson's conviction for hacking. So it's more than a little ironic he now wants Gibson's help.

George runs a security business & has been contacted by someone who says they know what happened to Suzanne. Their cyber name is Wr8th & George needs Gibson's expertise to track & verify the information. The chance to learn Suzanne's fate (plus a hefty salary) eventually convinces Gibson to sign on.

And so it begins. What follows is a smart, intricate & action packed story with numerous twists & turns. There is a large cast & with the exception of Gibson, you're never sure whose side these people are on. At several points it seems clear who the "bad guys" are. Then the author lets loose with a reveal that blows your theory out of the water. 

All characters are layered & sharply drawn. Stand outs include George & his 2 senior investigators. And by unanimous decision, the "Makes my skin crawl" award goes to Fred Tinsley, a reptilian hit man. 

But the story's heart & soul is Gibson. He's a smart, likeable guy who finds himself on a deadly journey of discovery. His whole life has been shaped by the events of his childhood & what he learns about Suzanne & his father rocks his world.

This is an addictive read & there's never a dull moment. The plot is like one of those Russian dolls where each discovery made by George & his team leads to another layer. Chapters alternate narrators so you're privy to the noise in their heads. At times, we know more than some of the characters & this adds to the rising tension. The final bombshell makes all the moving pieces click into place & the conclusion is both satisfying & poignant.

 

It's not often I truly have difficulty putting a book down but I NEEDED to know what became of Suzanne. And so it slides onto my top ten list for 2015. I could go on but if you're a fan of smart, well written suspense you should stop reading this & get your paws on a copy ASAP. 

You're welcome.