Sunday, 5 July 2015

Brianna Reviews // Hard Landing by Stephen Leather

Published:  16th February 2004
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Kindle
Synopsis: Dan 'Spider' Shepherd is used to putting his life on the line. Working for an elite undercover squad he has lied, cheated and conned in order to bring Britain's most wanted criminals to justice. But when a powerful drugs baron starts to kill off witnesses to his crimes, Shepherd is given his most dangerous assignment yet. He has to go undercover in a top security prison, a world where one wrong move will mean certain death. As Shepherd gambles everything to move in on his quarry, he soon realises that the man he is hunting is even more dangerous than the police realise. And that he is capable of striking outside the prison walls and hitting Shepherd where it hurts most.

My reasons for reading Hard Landing make me feel a little guilty. I actually started reading it because I bought Spider Shepherd: SAS: Volume 1 on a whim because it was only 99p and I thought it might make an okay read; I haven’t read it yet, mainly because I realised it was a collection of short stories that had its own series (I have to read stuff in order… even if they are technically prequels). It was then that I searched for Hard Landings, it was 49p, I had to buy it. To be honest I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. I thought it would be okay obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought it. I would like to report that I was very wrong, this book and series is so much better than just okay.

I don’t like reading Blurbs, synopsis, or reviews before I read a book (The irony is not lost on me) if I can help it sadly it is hard to judge if you will like a book without so I often do or I rely on friends recommending book. Mainly because I like to read a book and find out what happens through reading it, and I find that often Blurbs tell me too much and sometime take away from the surprises. The reason I’m telling you this is because I didn’t read anything about Hard Landing before I read it, all I had read was the description for Spider Shepherd: SAS: Volume 1, and the amazon description really doesn’t say much.  

So anyone who has read the synopsis at the top of the page or the book will know that Dan Shepherd is an undercover cop, I did not know. All I knew was that he had been in the SAS. The book starts with a group of armed robbers, who are trying to steal silicon chips from Gatwick airport, it doesn’t go to plan, armed police show up and the gang turns on itself before Bob Macdonald decides to run for the back door where he is knocked out by the armed police. Macdonald spends a lot of time wondering what is happening and what happened to the plan, he is only pretty confident that his finger prints and DNA are not on the system and on top of that he refuses to tell the police his name.

So by this point I am very confused, and Bob is going to prison for shooting a cop, he didn’t but one of the gang did. In fact I’m starting to wonder if I’m reading the right book because I’m about 70 pages/15% in and no mention of the guy the series is about. At this point I read the synopsis above which in hindsight I was I hadn’t another 5% and it is revealed Macdonald is Shepherd, prison wasn’t part of the original plan and suddenly everything makes sense, not that the blurb tells you who bob is but I can put two and two together and from reading the synopsis I knew something would happen to his family (perfect example of why I avoid them), I was right, but also wrong at the same time.
I really like the fact that Stephen Leather kept the reader in the dark about who Macdonald was even if it had me wondering if I was reading the right book, I was intrigued by the mystery, I’m sure if I’d read the synopsis I would have solved it quicker but for the first couple of pages it would still have kept me wondering. 

Shepherd is there to get close to Gerald Carpenter, but Gerald has connection all over and proves to be hard to get close to as he was in prison because his trust was betrayed, but it turns out that it is a lot easier for Carpenter to closer to Shepherd than is comfortable.

The book has a lot of tension as shepherd can’t trust anyone around him especially not the guards. I have to say I really liked Lloyd-Davies, and I’m sure she suspected what shepherd really was.  As for the other characters I personally don’t trust Sam Hargrove and I don’t quite understand why shepherd does, but I guess they do have a 5 year history. We also meet another member of the undercover unit, Jimmy Sharpe, I like him, we didn’t see much of him but he definitely made a positive impression on me and I was quite happy to see him pop up briefly in the books after this one. We also meet some of Shepherds old SAS buddies.

I like Shepherd he has an interesting moral code which seems to be flexible to his situation, he’s not afraid to break a few legs, or kill someone, yet at the same time he works for the police and his job is to upload the law. This fact is not lost on Shepherd, he also simultaneous loves his job and hates, that he lies and betrays people friendships as well as the amount of time it keeps him away from home.

Overall I think this was a very well written book and it definitely has suspense and when I started reading this as well as not expecting it to be so good I also excepted that I wouldn’t cry, I cry at most books but I was pretty confident that this wouldn’t… wow I was wrong. If anything that is what this book did, it proved me wrong. As for would I recommend – yes, of course, in fact I already have, they liked it too. And as for the rest of the series… I’m a little behind with writing this review and I have just finished the 7th in the series and immediately bought number 8… which is what I did for all the rest. I cannot put these books down.

Hopefully reviews will follow for the rest… if I can still disentangle the individual books I will try and do them individually however they may end up being reviewed as a series, let me know if you have a preference.

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