Title: The Short Drop
Author: Matthew FitzSimmons
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: 1 December 2015
A decade ago, fourteen-year-old Suzanne Lombard, the daughter of Benjamin Lombard—then a senator, now a powerful vice president running for the presidency—disappeared in the most sensational missing-person case in the nation’s history. Still unsolved, the mystery remains a national obsession.
For legendary hacker and marine Gibson Vaughn, the case is personal—Suzanne Lombard had been like a sister to him. On the tenth anniversary of her disappearance, the former head of Benjamin Lombard’s security asks for Gibson’s help in a covert investigation of the case, with new evidence in hand.
Haunted by tragic memories, he jumps at the chance to uncover what happened all those years ago. Using his military and technical prowess, he soon discovers multiple conspiracies surrounding the Lombard family—and he encounters powerful, ruthless political players who will do anything to silence him and his team. With new information surfacing that could threaten Lombard’s bid for the presidency, Gibson must stay one step ahead as he navigates a dangerous web to get to the truth.
Wow, what a ride. This book is like a roller-coaster. It has twists and turns all over the place, rockets through at a quick pace and at the end you are left wanting more. I tore through the book in only 3 or 4 days and I was disappointed that I had to put it down at times. That’s how good it is.
Matthew FitzSimmons’ first novel The Short Drop follows the story of former Marine and computer expert Gibson Vaughn as he attempts to solve the 10 year old mystery surrounding the disappearance of his close family friend Suzanne. As Gibson gets closer to the truth, he discovers that the circumstances around Suzanne’s disappearance aren’t exactly as they appear.
This book is pretty much a straight-up mystery with little bits of action thrown in for good measure. I’ve mentioned in other reviews that I think that a good mystery is one that makes me guess about how it will end all the way through but it turns out in the end that I am not even close, yet the actual ending makes sense. By that standard, The Short Drop is a really, really great mystery. The ending is unexpected but still makes sense.
There are a lot of characters in this book. That is probably my only problem with the book because at the start it takes a bit of effort to keep up with who is who. Ultimately with a cast of characters that large, it is going to be hard to really develop them all while also moving the story along. While Gibson developed throughout the story, I would have like to know more about Jenn and Hendricks especially and characters like Ben Lombard and Calista felt very shallow despite being important. That’s really my only complaint out of the whole 400 pages.
One of the things I really look for in a story is realism. When I read, I want to believe that it could actually happen. Admittedly the plot of The Short Drop becomes a little far-fetched as it progresses, but the way FitzSimmons writes made it feel real me. Even though the plot is a little “out there”, it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of it at all which is a testament to the way that FitzSimmons writes.
The only way I can effectively summarise The Short Drop is to say that I was legitimately surprised to find out that it was Matthew FitzSimmons’ first novel. Like everything else, writing is a skill that I feel gets better with practice and therefore most authors really improve as they write more books. However the fact that FitzSimmons hit it so far out of the park on his first try has me counting down the days until October when the second Gibson Vaughn novel Poisonfeather is due to be released.
Worth a read? The Short Drop has a little bit for everyone. It has action, it has mystery, it has an interesting plot and it has intriguing characters. So if you like books that include any or all of those features then you should read The Short Drop. More than 80% of the 11,500+ people who have rated it on Goodreads have scored it either 4 or 5 stars, so it is clearly a great book that is worth a read.