With such pacy and astringent thrillers as The Fireman
and The Chinaman
, Stephen Leather has acquired a keen following. The author (who divides his time between Bangkok and London) began his career in a fashion common to many thriller writers: as a journalist who decided he could write a better thriller than most of the current crop of practitioners. It’s a conviction that he’s proved (both to himself and to readers) several times over. Rough Justice
, his latest, is characteristically in-your-face fare, the kind of crime/thriller writing that wastes no words in delivering the goods.
All over London, criminals are being viciously attacked and left bleeding or crippled by vigilante cops. For some, this is no great tragedy -- after all, crime rates appear to be on the decrease. But it is inevitable that the situation must change, and Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd, working for the Serious Organised Crime Agency, is instructed by his bosses that this form of justice without benefit of law court has to end. Shepherd, of course, has always been fully aware that fighting crime is a deeply ambiguous business, and that rules now and then have to be broken. But he realises that an unpleasant job has to be done, and gets on with it, even though he is unhappy with the task of investigating fellow police officers. He finds it necessary to go undercover and join a crack squad of officers who know exactly what is happening on the streets. Needless to say, he is soon having to make extremely uncomfortable decisions -- not least when he finds his own family under threat.
Avid crime readers will spot that Dan Shepherd's job here is not a million miles away from that of Ian Rankin's post-Rebus protagonist Malcolm Fox, but Stephen Leather deals in a very different kind of crime fiction. All of the elements that make Leather’s earlier work so pungent are fully in play here, and his customary command of pace (usually, foot pressed firmly to the floor) is also much in evidence. We are comfortable now in the rough company of Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd, and despite this being one of Leather’s longest novels (at nearly 500 pages), most readers will find it reads like a much shorter book -- that is to say: not easily put down. --Barry Forshaw
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'ROUGH JUSTICE is a top drawer thriller with blood-soaked action, terrifyingly real villains, spine-tingling menace and a pulsating plot with serious ethical issues at its heart. Another class act from Mr Leather . . .' Lancashire Evening Post
'One of the strongest and most outstanding books of his career to date. Another real scorcher . . . so gripping I just could not put it down' --www.eurocrime.co.uk