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!


Anonymous said...

In that case I look forward to seeing my name in a future book!!!!

Nick Brett

Stephen Leather said...

Yeah, but after giving Nightfall three stars you might end up dying horribly!

Leif said...

As a longstanding fan of your books (Solitary Man still one of my most favourite novels), wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up Nightfall - inevitable comparisons to Dennis Wheatley, the master of occult thrillers. I read all his books as a kid. I needn't have worried - what a story! Great characters, and what's more the whole thing is believable, well almost! Where did you get your inspiration for Proserpine? Nasty piece of work but she seems familiar somehow? I read in two days whilst convalescing from mother of all tummy bugs, couldn't put it down. It even came into the wee room with me on numerous occasions! If I had the talent to write a novel it would be something like Nightfall. Roll on the next Jack Nightingale novel!!

Stephen Leather said...

Hi Leif, glad you enjoyed it!

Yeah, I was hugely influenced by Dennis Wheatley but wanted to make it as believable as possible. I wanted to do the same with Proserpine (and other devils and demons that appear in the next book) and make her as real as possible. I was definitely influenced by Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels where he has Death as a punk/Goth but the character in Nightfall is based on someone I know (a girl, not a devil, obviously!)

Leif said...

Thanks Stephen. By the way Nightfall would make some movie I think? I see Helena Bonham-Carter as Proserpine, Philip Glenister as Jack....
If you need a proof reader for your next book?
Thanks again and good luck.