The Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons

KK Conley Review

MF Short Drop

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This is the debut novel of Matthew FitzSimmons, and I couldn’t put it down. It has everything: legendary and damaged convicted hacker Gibson Vaughn, his childhood friend Suzanne, as close as a sister, who’s been missing for ten years, and a new clue to her disappearance. Oh, and the girl’s father has risen from senator to vice-president of the U.S. with an eye on the presidency.The pace is fast, and the dangers to the entire team that Gibson joins are life threatening.

Unlike a lot of books that have over-polished the first fifty pages and begin to disappoint on page fifty-one, this one picks up the pace. The writing becomes even better as the book progresses. Or, just maybe, I became so engulfed in the story that it seemed that way to me.

Some of the reviews imply that this book is political, but I did not find it so. This is not about a presidential race, but the campaign is used in the background to raise the stakes.

The sharp descriptions include:

(Gibson) still had a fairly heavy rep in the insular community that gave a crap about such things and doubted very much this would add to the legend of BrnChr0m. It was a bit like Al Capone extorting a kid’s lemonade stand.

Her hair was cast in a brittle perm that looked like the unholy union of a microwave and caulk.

. . . all of her plants required water or last rites.

I look forward to Mr. FitzSimmons’ next book.

Booklist Online Review Not Yet Available 

Washington Post Review

December 3, 2015
In this spiffy new thriller, information about a scuzzy politician’s missing daughter turns up just as he’s about to be picked for his party’s presidential nomination. But the least interesting character in “The Short Drop” is the candidate himself, Vice President Benjamin Lombard. He’s a one-dimensional cynic who’s running for president because “when else in human history could someone ascend bloodlessly to become the most powerful man in the world? It was the chance to be a civilized god.” Publicly, Lombard mouths trite platitudes about his vision for America even as he removes a Secret Service agent from his detail because the agent is taller than he is.

Now, Gibson is 28 and, understandably, a mess. An ex-marine — his enlistment was a condition for avoiding a long prison term — he’s a low-level IT guy living in a Virginia apartment with an “interior design courtesy of Franz Kafka.” Jenn Charles, the young security-firm operative who helps recruit Gibson for a special project, is put off at first by his hostile demeanor. But she soon gives in to his “rough-around-the-edges charm” and pale green eyes, and so will plenty of readers.

The project Gibson is all but blackmailed into taking on is following new evidence that may finally uncover Suzanne’s fate. Was she kidnapped and killed by a psychopathic pedophile, as the police believe? And how will this affect the presidential campaign? Will reopening the case bring the distraught dad even more sympathy during the presidential campaign? That’s what’s on the minds of Lombard and his single-minded staff.

There’s a good bit of police-procedural following of leads, but what makes a thriller a thriller is putting good people in jeopardy, and FitzSimmons has come up with a doozy of a sociopath to track and finally terrorize Gibson and his cohorts. Fred Tinsley had been a sniper in Sarajevo who once spent days lying in raw sewage waiting to take a shot at one of Milosevic’s killers. Now he’s a gun for hire, and the big question is who hired him and why.

Amazon Description

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.

4.7 stars out of 5, 2,000+ reviews withing 15 days of publication

Goodreads Rating

4.3 stars out of 5, 5,100+ ratings within 15 days of publication.

Matthew FitzSimmons’ Description

The disappearance of Suzanne Lombard has haunted Gibson Vaughn since he was a troubled teenager. Ten years later, he’s been given the chance to solve the mystery of what happened to his childhood friend and daughter of the vice president of the United States.

Where is Suzanne Lombard? The answer could reshape his future and alter the course of an election.