The Short Jot: My Review of The Short Drop

By Douglas Soule on January 17, 2016 from Book Review via

Political pandemonium, politicians’ prejudices, government gangsters--all this and more can be found not only in the United States, but also in Matthew FitzSimmons’ first novel, The Short Drop.
Gibson Vaughn isn’t your typical hacker--he doesn’t live in his parent’s basement. In fact, the premise of his former basement haunts him, for that was where his father committed suicide.  Gibson had a difficult time after this incident. He became hostile and erratic--even for a fifteen-year-old--and his behavior led him to prison after he revealed information on the illegal activities of future Vice-President Benjamin Lombard, who was a family friend to Gibson. This leaked information backfired when it was discovered that it was Gibson’s own father-- Lombard’s chief of staff-- who performed the incriminating deeds.
Now, more than ten years later, he is an ex-Marine, has an ex-wife, a daughter, and is anguished by the disappearance of his childhood companion Suzanne Lombard, the Vice-President’s daughter. She went missing when Gibson was in the Marines, sent there by a merciful judge so Gibson could avoid prison. With the vice-president’s wrath lurking overhead, despite his credentials Gibson has to undergo the American tradition of job searching. Divorces can be expensive, especially when you are still in love with the person you cheated on, and there is a daughter involved. So when Lombard’s former security chief approaches him, offering money and the opportunity to locate Suzanne without his prior boss’s knowledge, Gibson accepts.
What follows is a story that dragged me along like a freight train without brakes. The characters have more layers than a Chipotle burrito and more flaws than something you'd eat from a fast food restaurant. Their mediocrity in some areas and expertise in others create realistic characters that are catalysts of entertainment, creating both humorous and tense interactions that never failed to keep me on my toes (even though I was sprawled on the couch).
And if the story isn’t crazy enough, a bad assassin is thrown into the mix. This volatile introduction leaves readers--and many characters--breathless. This threat, along with that of a hired military company, creates a perpetual danger, a hair-raising fear present even during the peaceful scenes. It’s like a pair of predatory eyes constantly watching you through the text, yearning to pounce.
Hacking, unlike the keyboard mashing seen on entertainment programs such as CSI, is really a long, boring process. It's like watching a television program--hopefully not CSI--with more commercials than content, little payoff compared to the time spent dully eye-fondling the screen. Yet author Matthew FitzSimmons actually makes it fun and intense, like the programing in The Matrix, but without being entirely unrealistic. By abstaining from drilling the reader’s brain with methods of computer code, we are left in awe of Gibson’s knack for hacks, enjoying the premise despite not understanding the technicalities of it.
This book also dives into moral dilemmas pertaining to torture, the right to kill, political corruption, and well-kept diners (you’ll understand once you read it). The literary dexterity in which these subjects are approached is impressive, doubly so due to the fact that this is the first published work by Matthew FitzSimmons--isn’t that a fun last name? Works of fiction like this can inform of modern day issues and all the while manage to be an engrossing read to a wide audience.
Reading The Short Drop was like being a dehydrated man only allowed a single drop of water; I thirsted for more. The story ended superbly, making me desire seconds. A comfort can be found in this book populated with kidnappings and killings. Intriguing characters and a multi-dimensional plot prove that bestsellers from the “Mystery, Thriller & Suspense” section don’t have to follow the same generic storyline. In a market dominated with ghostwritten books allegedly by famous authors such as James Patterson, The Short Drop is a cuisine of originality, offering tastes of a talented author’s diction. 

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