Stephen Leather is fairly unusual in this genre, he has allowed his character "Spider" Shepherd to develop and evolve through the books and has balanced the action with realistic and satisfying characterisation. The books also reflect a changing society, environment and culture so the books feel up to date and fresh.
In False Friends, Spider is babysitting two Pakistani informers who not only helped identify the location of Bin Laden but also are being primed for the next big UK terrorist `spectacular'. At the same time he is doing a favour for his friends back in the Met, playing an arms dealer but with some bad guys with a very topical link.
All the Spider Shepherd books are a pleasure and this one is no different. The author knows how to pull together plot lines and how to engage the reader in an environment that is either exciting or very familiar. I liked the Pakistani informers especially, they were given real depth and character. Their attitudes, motives and passions felt real and utterly believable. Devout, from good families but with a view that terrorism is wrong balanced with the attitudes and language of young men of their age. And a sense of being British but also devout Muslims which was a refreshing change.
There are a few themes running through this topical thriller, hidden agendas, trust and that of living a lie. Even Shepherd's boss, Charlie Button has evolved as a character and now reflects a more hard-nosed approach and you sense that she and Shepherd do not quite have the relationship they once had, and Shepherd's viewpoint that is very much black and white is not shared by others around him who play in the grey areas.
So, again we have an intelligent, topical thriller populated with `real' people and characters. I think it is a brilliant series and this fits in perfectly.