Leather, Stephen - 'Fair Game'
The author's eighth book to feature "Spider" Shepherd and his twenty-fourth thriller overall, features an urgent hunt to locate a kidnap victim. The victim, a young god-daughter of the British Prime Minister was plucked, with her boating colleagues from a very expensive yacht in the ocean off the coast of Africa by desperate and very violent Somali pirates. These pirates are informed about their targets by relations living in the UK and are kept up to date by all the latest digital technology. The main relation and leader in the UK, a real nasty piece of work, is called "Crazy Boy", and launders his ill-gotten gains through a network of property purchases and has contacts with other crooked Somalis all over the place and links with other Muslim organisations such as Al-Qaeda.
Dan "Spider" Shepherd, a former SAS operative is now an undercover agent with MI5. This cleverly plotted hunt for the pirates has "Spider" going deep undercover on a huge container ship in the expectation that it will be similarly hijacked. But this multi layered story does not simply rely on one plot to keep the reader enthralled right the way through it's 544 aggressively topical pages, no, no, no there are two other sub-plots that keep the attention: there is a contract out on Spider's life from the "Real IRA" and there is Al-Qaeda interest also.
Stephen Leather is from a journalistic background and meticulously researches the background to all his books and it is very reassuring, reading facts and background details in his stories and knowing that they must be authentic because he has such a good reputation.
I thought this was a cracking good thriller, the best that I have ever read by Stephen Leather and his journalistic keen attention to detail kept me gripped to the edge of my seat right up to the last page. Since he has started writing two books a year I was sure the quality would fall off, but this book kept me guessing (wrongly!) right up to the last page. As this is the eighth book in a series for regular readers, part of the enjoyment comes from catching up on the escapades of the regular characters in a similar way one does to a TV series, but Leather is aware that a reader may buy his book on impulse and the story is fully explained for such occasional readers also. I found the book extremely readable and would certainly recommend it.
Terry Halligan, England