Friday, July 30, 2010

Great Exam With Trick Questions!

Just got this in an email - hilarious!

New High School Exit Exam, you only need 4 correct to pass -

(Passing requires 4 correct answers)

1) How long did the Hundred Years' War last?

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

3) From which animal do we get cat gut?

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7) What was King George VI's first name?

8) What color is a purple finch?

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Remember, you need 4 correct answers to pass.

Check your answers below ....


1) How long did the Hundred Years War last? 116 years

2) Which country makes Panama hats? Ecuador

3) From which animal do we get cat gut? Sheep and Horses

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution? November

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of? Squirrel fur

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal? Dogs

7) What was King George VI's first name? Albert

8) What color is a purple finch ? Crimson

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from? New Zealand

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane? Orange (of course)

What do you mean, you failed? Me, too.

Pass this on to some brilliant friends, so they may feel useless too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eurocrime Reviews Rough Justice

A great review of Rough Justice, the new Spider Shepherd book, has just gone up on Eurocrime - their website is at

Here's the review -

Leather, Stephen - 'Rough Justice'
Hardback: 544 pages (July 2010) Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton ISBN: 0340924934

Earlier this year when I reviewed the author's previous thriller, NIGHTFALL, in which he introduced his new hero "Jack Nightingale", I assumed that he was going to replace Leather's other hero figure, Dan (Spider) Shepherd who had featured in six previous books, but how wrong I was. Now in his 22nd book, ROUGH JUSTICE, which is again about Spider, Leather has written one of the strongest and most outstanding books of his career to date. Another real scorcher, in fact. So it looks like Leather is giving himself the task of writing two series books a year. I wonder whether he can keep up such a pace and do promotional book tours as well?!

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), have been asked by the Home Secretary to investigate a spate of vigilante crimes which have been occurring mainly in and around London. A number of criminals that have escaped conviction for legal technicalities are suspected of being given rough justice by a team of elite police officers who belong to a Territorial Support Group (TSG) - these are the police units that are sent in, usually in blue vans, to break up demonstrations or to support other non specialist police.

Spider, is asked for his next assignment to become a member of a TSG unit and to this end he is given a false identity as a policeman transferred from a different constabulary to Paddington, West London. He is equipped with a complete kit of warrant card, bank account and ancillary ID in his new name of "Terry Halligan" (very weird - but I promise you no payment changed hands!) and is given a flat in North London. He joins the squad and finds a real comradeship develops in working with them on a day to day basis. He feels very torn between identifying the criminals and supporting his new colleagues. A real crisis of conscience in fact, which must be resolved if he is to follow this through.

The story has an elaborate, modern, but very believable, multi-layered plot with the main strand being the investigation of the TSG policemen. There are three additional sub-plot lines occurring. Firstly, one of Spider's former SAS commanders wants revenge for the death of his son in Northern Ireland and he asks Spider to help him. Secondly, Spider discovers that his own son, Liam, has an illegal video on his mobile that could get him into trouble with the police and this causes Spider a lot of worry. The third plot line covers a colleague of Spider's in SOCA, who has to infiltrate a right wing extremist organisation, which has some crossover to the TSG story.

All in all this is quite a long book but the pages just flew by. The main plot had echoes of the Death Wish films with the late Charles Bronson. As usual with Leather's books, I read this book in about two days, it was so gripping I just could not put it down and I believe I'll probably include it in my five best reads of 2010. A very entertaining, easy read - though some of the scenes in it are very graphic - and I look forward to reading his future books in both series.

Terry Halligan, England
July 2010

I'm glad that Terry liked it, and that he spotted that I'd used his name! He has given me some great reviews in the past and I though he'd get a kick out of Spider using his name as his alias!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Just Had Another Good Review Go Up On Amazon!

Here it is, from one of Amazon's Top 100 Reviewers! He really got what the book was about, which was gratifying.

4.0 out of 5 stars Top notch and thought provoking, 15 July 2010

By N. Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Rough Justice (Dan Shepherd Mystery) (Paperback)

Having read all of Stephen leather's thriller and particularly enjoyed the "Spider Shepherd" tales, I am an established fan but I can honestly say that Rough Justice is as good as anything the author has written. Rough Justice works on a number of levels, it is a thriller that deals with the very grey areas between justice and revenge and also asks some uncomfortable questions.

Here we have Spider going undercover to expose some rogue Police officers who are taking justice into their own hands set within an environment that is perhaps overly politically correct and overly protective of the bad guys rather then the victims. Spider gets his own exposure to this in a scenario that is scarily (and sadly) true. In balance to this we also have Spider considering taking things into his own hands as a result of a terrorist attack....

This moves at pace but the author does a great job of giving all the characters real personalities amid excellent research. The banter and process of the Police team that Spider works with felt spot on, as did their varying attitudes and frustrations. I sense that Stephen Leather is no fan of the "Nanny State" (a theme repeated in his other recent book, Nightfall), and it would be hard to argue with him based on the themes in this book. But this is a thriller and it works very well at that level, you get a sense of the tension and the pressures of working undercover and the difficulty of maintaining two identities. As a reader you are likely to change your mind about what is acceptable and what is not, or at the very least you will pause to think about your views of right and wrong.

There are some significant changes in this novel as well, and a possible change of direction for Spider, it's an interesting one although it may well take future books into a direction already quite well populated and away from the unique(ish) undercover scenario we have become used to. And there are still some things to be resolved........

A great thriller from an author at the top of his game. Recommended.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All At Sea

The Dan Shepherd book for next year is based on Somali pirates, the bad guys who are making a fortune seizing ships around the Gulf of Aden. I'm never one to duck the necessary research, so next month I set sail on a cargo ship sailing from China to Southampton. I join it in Malaysia and will be on board around the Gulf of Aden, through the Suez Canal and then home to the UK. Eighteen days in all. It's not exactly a cruise ship, but as I chose to go with a French crew I am guaranteed wine with my meals! That's a picture of it above.

The plan is to write the book on board and hopefully the lack of distractions will help, though I am a lousy sailor and have already stocked up with eighteen days worth of seasickness tablets.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My New Portrait!

I moaned so much about the portrait that Chris Coles did of me to illustrate the book of crime stories that I'm contributing to, he did another one! Here it is...

And here's the one he did earlier!

Millions From Hong Kong! Yippee!!!!

This just in from Hong Kong -

Dear Friend,

It is understandable that you might be a little bit apprehensive because you do not know me,
Please forgive this unusual manner to contact you, but this particular letter/email is of exceptional
and very private nature, as by virtue of my vantage position in Hang Seng Bank Ltd -Hong Kong
i have a lucrative business proposal of mutual interest to share with you. There is no way for me to
know whether I will be properly understood, but it is my duty to write and reach out to you, TRUSTING
that you will give this proposal a positive consideration.

I am Mr. William Leung Wing Cheung, the Executive Director and Head of Personal Banking of Hang Seng
Bank Limited, Hong-Kong with responsibility for the Bank’s financial services to individual customers which
cover deposits, loans, trust, private banking, insurance and the Bank’s branch network. I will need you to
assist me in executing a business project from our bank worth US$25.5 Million. These funds were deposited
with our bank by a customer of our bank who is a national {citizen} of your country/region, who
unfortunately died in the December 2004 Asia Tsunami disaster.

For more on this natural disaster click on these links:-

The deceased account has been declared dormant since 2006 and these funds will be
confiscated/declared unserviceable and turned over to the Hong Kong government if the deceased
business associates or next-of-kin did not claim this money; since all efforts to trace any living relative
of the deceased proved abortive, i have decided that i will have you claim this money as the deceased
business associate/or next-of-kin, since you are from the same country/region and perhaps have some
similarities in certain areas.

Everything concerning this transaction shall be LEGALLY done without hitch, as i was the deceased
account Officer and all the relevant documents of this deposit were kept under my care.

I will in the course of this transaction sends to you all of my legal and valid Identities {I.D} and also our
bank web site, where you can see my pictures and resumes for your reference.

Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion in all matters concerning this issue, as i hope that
you are a sincere, honest, matured person and above all TRUSTWORTHY. Once the funds have
been successfully transferred into your account, we shall share it in a ratio of 30% for you,65% for
me and my associates in the bank and the reminder 5% to take care of contingencies.

I will prefer you reach me on my private email address below :{ and
finally after that I shall furnish you with more information about this operation. I am counting on your
anticipated co-operation for a successful and hitch free business transaction between us, that will be
mutually beneficial, for a start oblige me these information:-

1.Your Full name{s}:-

2.Current contact address:-

3.Your present Occupation:-

4.Your age:-

5.Contact phone numbers {Office and Mobile{cell}:-

{6}Your PRIVATE/CONFIDENTIAL e-mail address, if it is different.

Please if you are not interested delete this email and do not hurt me because I am putting my career and
the life of my family at stake with this venture. Although nothing ventured is nothing gained, as it is said,
the taste of the pudding is in the eating, do give this proposal SERIOUS AND POSITIVE CONSIDERATION,
but mindful of the fact also that it is HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL.

Your earliest response to this letter will be highly appreciated.

Kind regards,

Mr. William Leung Wing Cheung,
{Executive Director/Head Personal Banking}
Hang Seng Bank Limited
Hong Kong.{Asia}


Friday, July 9, 2010

Portrait Of Me

Bangkok-based artist Chris Coles has just sent me this - a portrait of me that will be used as an illustration for a book of short stories that I'm contributing to...

Should I be flattered? Actually it's better than my passport photograph!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Paperback Cover For Rough Justice

Hodder have just sent me the paperback cover for Rough Justice, which will be out in November!

Here's what the hardback looks like.....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

First Amazon Review of Rough Justice!

The first review of Rough Justice has gone up on Amazon - and it's five stars. Whew! There is another review showing (four stars) but it's actually for Live Fire!

Anyway, here's the first review, hopefully the first of many -

He's done it again!, 5 July 2010

By Mooky

This review is from: Rough Justice (Dan Shepherd Mystery) (Paperback)

I am a big Stephen Leather fan and have followed Dan "Spider" Shephard from his first appearence in Hard Landing. My favourite book in this series so far has been Soft Target, which was my first ever book by this author and it had me gripped from the start.

I was worried that this book was covering very similar ground and was just a re-jig of a story already done... However I was pleased to see I was wrong and it was a different path to that book. I wont go over the plot in too much detail as I don't want to give any spoilers but suffice to say it takes some interesting twists and continues the prose very nicely.

I was really dis-appointed when Mike "Joker" Cramer was killed off in a previous series of books and I hope Mr Leather doesn't make the same mistake again..!? The ending of this leads nicely into a different path for the characters and could really refresh the series.

My only gripe is having a chapter of Nightfall at the back of the book... Why!? I have that book and really enjoyed it but don't see the point of this other than a marketing ploy?

But apart from that another top read 5 stars - keep them coming!!

Mr Leather I know you read these reviews, I know the Shephard series is popular but I also loved one offs like the tunnel rats and birthday girl, are there any "ones offs" due out and also when is the next Nightingale book due out??

Mooky is right, there are similarities between Soft Target and Rough Justice - rogue cops - but the story is very different. And I also hope the change in Shepherd's career will refresh the series. I certainly won't be killing him off.

I am thinking about doing a one-off thriller as Mooky suggests. I love the Shepherd series but I also enjoy the challenge of starting a story from scratch! They are hard work but very satisfying, and The Tunnel Rats is one of my favourite books.

The chapter of Nightfall is at the back of Rough Justice as a way of introducing the character to readers who didn't buy the book when it came out this year!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Two New 5-Star Reviews For Nightfall On Amazon!

Just had two more five-star reviews for Nightfall put up on Amazon! I'm chuffed!

nightfall, 4 July 2010
By N. Nicholls "BOOKWORM" (BLACKPOOL) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Nightfall: v. 1 (Paperback)
fab read keeps you sucked in on every page you just can't put this book down i tell everyone it's a must read
but then aren't all steven's books very enjoyable book role on the next one

Wow. Loved it., 4 July 2010
By Daisy "daisy16178" (England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nightfall: v. 1 (Paperback)
This is only the second Stephen Leather book I have read. I'm not a supernatural follower and can't abide it on TV, but this book was compulsive reading. I loved it from start to finish. Was almost at the end and really could not put the book down. Absolutely brilliant!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Money From Sierra Leone!

This just in!



Dear Friend,

I am writing with my personal respect with regards to your reposed personality / firm as a reliable, Trustworthy and God fearing. I got your contact through the help a friend who works at the Chamber of Commerce in Ouagadougou the Capital of Burkina Faso.

In deed I am the wife of Late MR. EDWARD COLE from Sierra Leone . I and my two children are presently staying in Burkina Faso as Refugees, my husband was one of the Ministers of Johnny Paul Koromah' s regime in Sierra Leone . During the intervention of the ECOMOG Soldiers to Restore the presidency of Alhaji Tejan KABBAH from Johnny Koromah, my husband was among the 23 executed Ministers. As our breadwinner is dead (my husband) And our stay in Sierra Leone is no more safe, I and my Two children decided to move to Burkina Faso a Neighboring African Country for safety. Due to our Status in Burkina Faso as refugees I was forced to Lodge our family funds ( $10 Million US Dollars) in a finance house.

Since then we have been receiving help from our Mission , because we are staying in one of the Visitor's villa in the church premises and attends Fellowship and worship fully. I hope you will be Touched to understand my request. We have agreed to invest our money in a viable business venture overseas country through your assistance and directives. You will provide or look for a lucrative business venture where this money can be invested on.

Before proceeding further, we will get to be more familiar and also go into an understanding working agreement because our family's Future now depends on this money. The boxes containing the money and treasures were all deposited and registered as family treasures. This was done for Security reasons we would like to know what you will take as your percentage for assisting us. We sincerely wish to introduce and make you our Business Partner and overseer of our proposed Investment in your Country. We are prepared to send all the documents regarding to this deposit as soon as you show your concerned interest through an email response including the following

Your Full Names
Residential address or Office address
Private Telephone.
Your private email address.

Best Regards
Mrs. Elizabeth Cole.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Good Review Of Nightfall On Amazon

Just got a four star review on Amazon from a Top 500 reviewer who got the book and what it's about! Thanks Gareth!

Entertaining Crime in a Wheatley style, 30 Jun 2010

By Gareth Wilson "drosdelnoch2"

This review is from: Nightfall: v. 1 (Paperback)

In a world where multiple genre titles are becoming the norm, its pretty interesting to see how an author will adapt things to make the title not only fit within one but blend seamlessly to create something a little bit special to appeal to many readers.

What Stephen does within this offering is create a principle protagonist who would do in his professional career what many others would like to do in real life. Within that one scene this author creates a strong bond between the readers and the character that will give the reader a hell of a hard time to put down. (Literally.) The prose is perfect the dialogue ideal and to be brutal the characters just step from the pages into readers imagination as a darker world comes to the readers mind, demonstrating that there are more dangerous things in heaven and hell than mankind has yet to dream.

Great stuff and above all a tale that will have the reader demanding more from this author. I really can't wait to see what Stephen turns up in his next offering.

Complaining To American Express - Again!

Just written this!

Ian Hayward,
Executive Customer Relations Administrator,
American Express Services Europe Ltd,
Department 333,
Amex House,
Edward Street,
Brighton BN88 1AH.

Dear Ian,

I note that you have not replied to my letter dated March 18. I am not sure if there was a technical hitch or if it is yet another example of the poor service that American Express now offers its customers.

Whatever the reason I enclose a copy of my letter dated March 18 and would be grateful if you would address the issues that I have raised.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Leather

Here's my original letter of complaint, the one that he ignored!

Ian Hayward,
Executive Customer Relations Administrator,
American Express Services Europe Ltd,
Department 333,
Amex House,
Edward Street,
Brighton BN88 1AH.

Dear Ian,

You wrote to me on February 4, in response to my letter to Julia Charman dated January 20, to tell me that you pride yourselves on your high quality products and customer service.

Unfortunately the next letter I received, from Martin James, was definitely not representative of good customer service. In fact it is one of the worst customer service letters I have received in many, many years.

Rather than try to resolve the issues that I raised in my letter to Julia Charman, your Mr James simply listed parrot-fashion my transactions and phone calls, then without giving me any details simply says that Amex’s actions ‘were fair and reasonable’. Then he tells me how to complain to the Financial Ombudsman. He fails to answer any of the issues that I raised in my letter of January 20, 2010.

I am not sure if Mr James is deliberately being evasive, or if he simply didn’t understand my letter, but I am not satisfied with his reply at all. I still want answers to my questions.

1) I want to know if the double-charging of £289.11 through Hertz was an American Express fault or a Hertz fault. Initially they blamed you.

2) I want a list of benefits for Gold cardholders that are not available to holders of the regular American Express card. All Mr James did was to supply me with a copy of what the gold card offers. In his letter Mr James says ‘please note however we no longer promote the American Express green card.’ What does that mean? Does it mean you don’t have a green card anymore, or that you have it but don’t offer it? Is he saying that the gold card is now the basic card? Considering how standards have fallen in recent years (I have been a cardholder since 1984) that wouldn’t surprise me.

3) I still need an explanation of why such bad seats at the Miley Cyrus concert in Manchester were offered to American Express cardholders. Mr James says that I should have looked at the seating plan. Actually I did but it didn’t have the downstairs area marked off in blocks so there was no way I could see that my block was furthest away from the stage. But that’s not the point. I trusted American Express to offer me good seats and you didn’t, you sold me just about the worst seats in the arena and I want to know why.

I would also point out that he says ‘On 5 February 2010 we attempted to contact you by telephone but the telephone numbers we hold on file no longer connect.’ What does that mean? I am out of the country at the moment but so far as I know all my phones are working. Please tell me what numbers he tried. And you might want to find out what ‘no longer connect’ means.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Leather

A Fan Writes......

Just got this from a 'fan' in Australia.

I'm not sure how to respond. Oh well, can't win 'em all....

Dear Stephen

I was under the impression that you were one of my favourite authors as I have read almost all of your books and thoroughly enjoyed them. This is until I read Nightfall recently, where although the storyline had promise, the book as a whole was very disappointing with weak characterisation and a predictable plot. The constant references to Jack Nightingale’s smoking became extremely irritating and made me wonder if Marlborough had given you a sponsorship.

Rob Liddiard
Perth, Western Australia