The Short Drop by Matthew Fitzsimmons Reviewed
This is a hell of a debut.
14-year-old Suzanne Lombard went missing ten years ago, and the media has yet to let it go. But the disappearance that has made Suzanne a national sweetheart is much more personal to Gibson Vaughn. He grew up with Suzanne Lombard, the daughter of a powerful state Senator, and she was like a little sister to him. Her disappearance haunts him still. But when Vaughn is approached by an old enemy to use his hacking skills to look into Suzanne’s disappearance, he is understandably skeptical. What can be gained stirring up old ghosts after 10 years? But new evidence has been found and Vaughn’s skills will be invaluable in finally finding answers. What Vaughn uncovers, however, is that many of the things he thought he knew for certain are not at all what they seemed. And there are plenty of dark secrets surrounding the Lombard family—secrets that could get him killed.
Gibson Vaughn is an empathetic and likable character—he lost his father to suicide, went after the man responsible, and found himself facing either prison or a stint with the Marines. His background creates a perfect blend of someone who is honorable and served his country with distinction, but is also willing to work outside the law to do what is necessary. And despite Vaughn’s time in the Marines, FitzSimmons keeps the scope of Vaughn’s involvement in the investigation reasonable and within Vaughn’s skill set. Vaughn is a computer hacker, not necessarily someone with a lot of operational SWAT training, and as such Vaughn’s partners try to keep him tied to the computer instead of in the field—smart and realistic storytelling. Of course Vaughn is also smart, and manages to investigate things on his own, using his instincts and what skills he does have, propelling the narrative forward and building suspense.
There are a lot of moving parts in this complicated story, but FitzSimmons keeps those parts moving with such grace that it seems effortless. And the way those parts all come together will leave you breathless. Somehow FitzSimmons manages to keep narrative tension and pacing without sacrificing beautiful and insightful writing—in addition to being a thriller, THE SHORT DROP is also a moving story about family and loss. This is a difficult book to put down once you’ve started—the story and unexpected twists will grab you, and the excellent pacing won’t let you go.
Erica Ruth Neubauer