A Dangerous Low by Michael Stephenson
Benjamin Howard, an Assistant District Attorney of a major city, lives the dream. He has a beautiful wife, two adorable children, and the state’s highest conviction rate. On his way to a burgeoning political career, he recently announced his candidacy for Mayor. His life is perfect until he has an affair. The brief encounter goes awry. In a moment of fear, he kills his secret lover. What’s worse, his lover was the recently paroled leader of a notorious gang, Deandre Johnson—a man. Fleeing the scene, he takes Deandre’s bag and discovers it is full of money. If someone hadn’t recorded the incident maybe he’d escape scot-free. Now he must protect his family from those who want revenge, those who want the money, and ward off a blackmailer before his life unravels. A fast-paced crime thriller A Dangerous Low takes place over the course of one week and follows a couple’s descent into the lowest acts of self-preservation humans can muster.
I liked A Dangerous Low, I really did. The prologue started out strong, with a tense, high-stakes action, life-or-death scene. And then I read on and found out that everything happens in seven days, which I knew meant the story would be exciting and impressive.
The story is set in Atlanta, GA, and the protagonist is Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Howard, who is set to run for mayor. But he makes a major political mistake when he has an affair with a man. Benjamin accidentally kills the man, who turns out to be the leader of one of the biggest gangs in Atlanta. Ben’s actions haunt him the next seven days and quickly turn into a larger problem, one that threatens his and his family’s lives.
I thought the story was very fast-paced, and there is definitely a lot of intrigue. Michael Stephenson does an excellent job of crafting complicated sub-plots and showing most character’s motives.
The author is also good about planting clues that are not necessarily obvious at the time, but then make sense later. Several times throughout the book I had satisfactory “a-ha!” moments.
However, I felt this book could use a little bit more editing. There were a few spelling and grammatical errors that stood out enough to take me out of the story momentarily. Also, though Stephenson does a good job writing dialogue that fits with his characters, occasionally the way the dialogue was written for one character seeped into another character’s speech. This made things a little confusing at times.
Also, sometimes I think there was too much explanatory information. For example, occasionally via dialogue or a character’s actions I could figure out what a character was feeling, but then the next line would tell me what I was supposed to get out of it, instead of letting me figure it out on my own.
I believe A Dangerous Low is the first book in a series, and I think Stephenson has created a very strong set up. There are a lot of characters to contend with, and everyone seems to have a secret. In addition to gangsters, there are politicians, police officers, and other lawyers. Not all those secrets are revealed, though I’m sure they will come out later in the series.
The tension and love between Ben and his wife Sheneka was well done. Sheneka finds out an awful truth about her husband, so naturally there is conflict. But the couple is also thrust into some dangerous situations they must work through together, where they realize they are still in love.
There were plenty of chase scenes, where Ben and his wife got to fight their attackers in (pardon my language) badass ways. I’m interested in what happens next for these two, especially after Sheneka reveals her own secret to her husband.
Overall I think Stephenson is a good storyteller, who has a well-thought out storyline. A Dangerous Low is a quick, entertaining read—action packed but with bits of humor sprinkled throughout.
Genre: Thriller, Action
Published: July 1, 2012, 242 pages