A price on her head. A secret worth dying for.
Just 48 hours to expose the truth…
Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.
With North due in court in forty-eight hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family. Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined.
In this race only the winner gets out alive…
Brimming with tension, high-stakes jeopardy and high-voltage action, and a deep, emotional core, Deep Dirty Truth is an unmissable thriller by one of the freshest and most exciting voices in crime fiction.
Many thanks to author, publisher and blog organiser for the extract of Deep Dirty Truth being shared today on booksaremycwtches.
Deep Dirty Truth
Lori Anderson Book Three
I never saw it coming. Got totally blindsided. That’s the God’s honest
See, we’ve gotten ourselves into a routine of sorts – me, JT and
Dakota. Living all together in my two-bed apartment at the Clearwater
Village complex, playing our version of house. It’s still a little
awkward, with each of us taking time to find our rhythm in the shared
space of each other’s lives. But, you know, all that domestic stuff? It’s
starting to feel real good, kind of natural. I should’ve known something
bad was lurking around the corner, and some kind of evil was about to
storm in and mess it all up.
Because that’s what happens when you’ve a dirty secret in your past,
and a price on your head from Old Man Bonchese – the head of the
Miami Mob crime family – because of something he’s discovered you
did ten years back. Someone you killed: a lying, cheating, murdering
mobster. Thomas ‘Tommy’ Ford; my wife-beating, son-of-a-bitch
First they thought JT was responsible. Nearly had him killed a
couple of months back – multiple stab wounds, busted ribs, punctured
lung and a heart attack. But he’s strong. A fighter. And he’s convalescing
But they wouldn’t let it go. Word was they’d got new information
and were now gunning hard for me; raising the bounty, getting every
low-life, bottom-feeding asshole to think they should chance their
As it was, they waited until September 19th to make their move. The
day started with a shared breakfast of bagels and cream cheese, followed
by me taking Dakota to school and leaving JT to do the dishes before
his physical therapy appointment. It seemed like a regular day; just like
the day before, and the day before that. But the schedule got changed
up. Our rhythm violently disrupted. And by 08:29 that morning our
world was shot to shit.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19th, 08:24
It’s mad busy outside the school, and I can’t squeeze the Jeep into the
drop-off area, so I continue along the street a ways before finding a
spot that’s clear. I glance in the rearview mirror at Dakota as I shove
the gear into park. She’s fiddling with her cellphone, brow creased and
front teeth biting her lower lip in concentration, playing whatever
game is the latest craze.
‘Come on, honey. You don’t want to be late.’
She nods, but doesn’t look up. Jumping out, I run around to her side
and open the door. She puts the cell into her bag and I gesture for her
to get out. She’s got a coy expression on her that usually means she’s
revving up to ask something.
She takes her time unfastening her belt and gets her bags together
real slow. Clears her throat. ‘So JT said it would be okay, Momma, and
you know how much I love the Tampa Bay Rays.’
Her love of the Tampa Bay Rays is new. It started the moment JT said
they were his favourite local sports team, second only to the Yankees.
I lift her science project – a papier-mâché model of the planets in the
solar system – out of the trunk.
She dangles her legs out of the Jeep. Her knee socks are scrunched
around her ankles, her shoes are new, but the toe of the right one is
already scuffed. ‘So can I?’
They’ve been talking about it the last three weeks. JT wants to take
her to a ballgame at Tropicana Field and she’s keen to go. I want them
to have some father-daughter time, even if we haven’t yet told her that
JT is her father, but I’m worried the trip is too soon. Not for their
relationship, that’s doing just fine, but for JT’s health. He’s still healing,
and although the external bruises have faded now, he’s no way close to
being back to full strength. Standing for any length of time makes him
dog-tired and he still can’t walk any kind of distance.
Dakota sits on the edge of the seat. She pushes her strawberryblonde
bangs out of her eyes and looks up at me through long lashes.
‘But why only maybe? Why not yes?’
I smile. She’s persistent. Determined, just like her momma. ‘How
She frowns. ‘It’s better than no, I guess.’
I laugh. ‘Yes, it is. Now, scoot.’
She grins, and slides out of the Jeep. Swinging her bags over her
shoulder, she takes the science project and trots towards the school
gates. I stand on the sidewalk in the morning sunshine, leaning on the
trunk, and watch her join the flow of kids rushing into school. She’s
been through so much in the past year, yet she seems happy. She’s been
abducted, seen men die and been in fear of her life. That’s stuff no nineyear-
old should ever have to experience.
As Dakota reaches the school gate she turns, waves and disappears
I watch her, daring to hope the psychological scars are fading. The
guilt that what happened to her was because of me, because of my job,
remains heavy in my chest, and I know I’ll never forgive myself for it.
But I have to push through. Move on and stay focused on the future.
We all do.
On the street close behind me, a vehicle brakes hard, pulling me
from my thoughts. I hear a door slide open and glance over my shoulder,
glimpsing a van with blacked-out windows that’s stopped, butted
up against my Jeep, blocking me in.
I start to turn. ‘Hey, what are you…?’
Two men with shaved heads jump out of the vehicle. Hands yank
me backwards. Fingers dig into my shoulders and hips, pinning my
arms. I kick back, fighting hard, but they’re pulling me off balance. I
can’t get any power into my blows.
The voice in my right ear is low, menacing. ‘You keep wiggling,
you’ll only die tired.’
I pay their warning no mind. As they haul me across the blacktop
I’m screaming, bellowing, frantically looking for someone who can
help. But there’s no one; the other parents are inside the school gate,
out of sight and oblivious. I’m too far away.
‘Let me go … get your goddamn hands off—’
Tape is slapped across my mouth, silencing my shouts. Trapped
inside, my screams and curses echo in my head. Rough hands hood
me. The black material turns the world around me dark.
Then I’m off the ground, lifted up and back. I’m still fighting,
punching, bucking against them, but I’m outnumbered and they’re
too strong. I’m losing the battle. Seconds later they release me. Gravity
drops me onto the floor of the van. Pain shoots through my hip, my
knee, my elbow. My face hits something solid and I hear my jaw crack.
I taste blood in my mouth.
The door slides shut. The engine fires, and we’re moving.
Less than fifteen seconds from start to finish.
I doubt anyone even knows I’m gone.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19th, 08:31
Panic never helped no one, and I’ll be damned if it’ll get the better
Heart punching in my chest, double-speed, I take stock of the situation.
I’m on my back – not a good position as it leaves my stomach
exposed, my vital organs vulnerable to easy damage, so I arch my back,
turn myself over.
My captors have other ideas. One grabs me, pulling me across the
van floor. I kick hard at them. Feel my toe connect and hear a grunt.
The moment of triumph doesn’t last. I feel more hands on me, flipping
me onto my side and clamping me still. My arms are yanked behind
me and I feel tape against my skin, binding my wrists, then my ankles.
Next moment they’ve gotten me hogtied. They’re are fast, practised
and methodical. This isn’t their first time.
So I make a choice and quit fighting. Conserve energy. But I’m sure
as hell not giving up. I’m harvesting data; every sound, every bump in
the blacktop, every gradient in the terrain, is a clue about where they’re
I close my eyes. Listen real hard. At first I mostly hear the thump of
my pulse gunfire loud in my ears, but as I force my breathing to slow,
clearing my mind of panic, more sounds start to register.
The muffler’s rattling and the air conditioning is dialled up high.
I hear low voices, male, up front. I can’t make out their words, but I
can tell that there are two of them. Wondering how many others there
are, I move about the van floor, act restless and try to push myself up
with my elbow. Rough hands on my shoulders and my hips force me
down hard. My face slams against the floor. Pain shoots through my
A third hand presses down on me. The same voice as before snarls in
my ear, ‘Quiet down, bitch.’
I don’t appreciate his tone, but I’ve got me my answer: there are two
people riding in the back with me, so with the pair up front that makes
four in total. Four guys sent to grab one woman.
Numbers like that tell me these people take no kind of chances.
We come to a stop, at an intersection I’m guessing. Over the blowers
of the air conditioning, I hear a blast of Miley Cyrus. It’s to our left,
likely coming from another vehicle. Then the van’s engine guns hard,
and we take a left, leaving the music behind.
I need to get my bearings but it’s tricky without any visual references.
I think back to the route we’ve taken, run through each of the
turns made since leaving Dakota’s school. I feel about-faced, but figure
we’re maybe going north-east. Heading out of town. Question is why;
is this a random snatch, or am I their target?
Right now, there’s no way to know for sure.
My captors are silent. The blacktop is smooth, the turns minimal.
The van coasts on at a steady speed, doing nothing that might attract
I concentrate on my breathing. Try to ignore the musty stench of
the hood, the oppressive gag of the tape and the sweat running down
my back. I push away thoughts of Dakota and JT, and the fear that I’ll
never see them again. There might be four of these guys, but I’ll never
go down easy. I’ll wait it out, looking for my chance to fight back.
Minutes later the van brakes and we start to reduce speed.
I flinch as a hand grips the back of my neck. ‘No noise, no tricks.’
We’re almost at a stop. I hear the buzz of a window being lowered
and the clatter of coins hitting metal. The hand around my neck
‘Have a nice day.’ A woman says from outside the van. There’s a
pause, followed by an electronic ping. Then we’re moving again.
The window buzzes back up and the pressure on my neck releases. I
know where we are. The woman was in a teller booth. We’ve just passed
through a toll.
My captors used coins – they don’t have a resident’s sunshine pass
that would’ve allowed them to use the lane for automated toll payments,
and that means they’re most likely from out of town.
As the van reaches cruising speed two things are real clear: we’re on
the freeway, and we’re not in Clermont anymore.
Not a car jacking.
Not rape, at least not yet.
Then what the hell is it that these men want with me?
Again I run through the turns we’ve taken since leaving Dakota’s
school. I concentrate hard on the direction we’re taking along the
freeway. I think about the enemies I’ve made during my time as a
bounty hunter, and the threats I’ve gotten since. The realisation of
who could be behind this slithers up my spine and into my mind like
I clench my fingers together. Grit my teeth beneath the tape.
I’ve seen the faces of the two men with shaved heads, and I’m clear
about what they’re capable of. If I’m right, if these men work for who
I think they do, then my situation is way worse than a random abduction.
If I want to live, I have to figure out a way to get free. I need to be
ready. Stay vigilant for any opportunity. Because one thing’s for sure:
these men are playing this game for keeps.
If they get their way, I won’t get out of this alive.
Orenda Books16 Carson Road
London se21 8hu
First published in the UK in 2019 by Orenda Books
Copyright © Steph Broadribb 2018
Steph Broadribb has asserted her moral right to be identified as the author of
this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any
form or by any means without the written permission of the publishers.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Typeset in Garamond by MacGuru Ltd
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon cr0 4yy
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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. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at http://www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. 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. Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories and a finalist in the ITW Awards, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts, and the sequel, Deep Blue Trouble soon followed suit. My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland, was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.
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