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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carrying a torch for Charlie?
In LIVE FIRE, author Stephen Leather's hero of several novels, Dan "Spider" Shepherd, an undercover operative with Her Majesty's Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), is off to Thailand to infiltrate a Pattaya-based British gang of master bank robbers that periodically returns home to replenish the funds for its exorbitant lifestyle. Meantime in London, a home-grown cell...
Published on 15 Jan 2009 by Joseph Haschka

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad...
Stephen Leather does not write bad novels, just those within the scale of good to very good indeed. This falls to the lower end of that scale but is still a solid thriller.
'Spider' Shepherd is an undercover officer who is inserted into the world of the bad guys, as illustrated in the previous books, all of which are worth picking up. Here Spider is after a bunch...
Published on 8 Mar 2009 by Nick Brett


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carrying a torch for Charlie?, 15 Jan 2009
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
In LIVE FIRE, author Stephen Leather's hero of several novels, Dan "Spider" Shepherd, an undercover operative with Her Majesty's Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), is off to Thailand to infiltrate a Pattaya-based British gang of master bank robbers that periodically returns home to replenish the funds for its exorbitant lifestyle. Meantime in London, a home-grown cell of Muslim jihadists is planning a bloody outrage that'll kill hundreds. Because of Spider's particular karma, the two plots ultimately intersect.

Leather spends much of his time living in Thailand. Therefore, it's no surprise that the storyline of LIVE FIRE puts Shepherd there for most of the narrative, but is somewhat surprising that the author has taken so long in the series to do so. Leather's physical description of Pattaya and its status as "the biggest single prostitution center in the world" suggests a comfortable familiarity with the place. (For a depiction of the Thai sex industry, see Stephen's excellent novel, Private Dancer.)

For readers whose first encounter with Spider is LIVE FIRE, the plot deserves 5 stars. For one such as me, who's followed his exploits over the years, it rates perhaps 4. The Shepherd character has perhaps become too familiar and/or I've become jaded.

In order to introduce the new reader to Dan's career path with SOCA, the narrative inevitably begins with the end game of a crime caper from which Spider must extract himself as the cops close in but before his cover is blown. Then, he immediately gets new marching orders to follow for the duration of the story from his boss, Charlotte "Charlie" Button. Subsequently, there are a couple pages in which Dan, a single father, has a guilt trip when he tells his young son, Liam, and his dead wife's parents that he's off on another job and won't be around to spend quality time. (While I know this digression establishes Spider's just-a-regular-bloke humanity to newbies, perhaps next time we could move forward a decade when Liam is interested in girls and won't miss Dad so much.)

It's in LIVE FIRE that Dan is first inferred to be carrying a torch for his boss, Charlie Button, for which telling evidence surfaces during a visit to one of Pattaya's bars:

"There were two pneumatic blondes dancing topless and a stunning redhead in a red thong and high heels doing a solo on the second podium ... Two more girls joined the redhead. One was a blonde with wavy hair, green eyes and milk-white flawless skin, the other a brunette with a pageboy hair-cut and dark brown eyes. She was like Charlotte Button, Shepherd thought, disconcerted.

'You like her?' asked Sergei.

Shepherd reddened like a schoolboy who'd been caught looking at a pornographic magazine. 'She's fit,' he said."

Now, I bring this up because I think Button one of the more intriguing characters of the Spider series. Plus, I suspect that she's hot. So I'd like to take the cheeky liberty of suggesting to the author the emphasis of a future book, i.e. that the narrative focus be on Charlie with Spider as an ancillary character. Thus, the saga of the latter can continue, albeit through the perspective of someone else, while a different facet of Dan's world can be developed and the repetitive mold of the series as a whole broken. Thinking outside the box.

Alternatively, some act of violence by one of the jihadist groups fermenting in the U.K. might seriously cripple or kill Liam. The emotional devastation could transform Shepherd into an agent of vengeance. One of Leather's first books, The Chinaman (Stephen Leather Thrillers), took that general approach, and it was one of his best reads.

Are you with me on this, Stephen?

All of this said, I'll keep reading installments of the Spider series for as long as they continue to be penned; I'll even put them ahead of any of Andy McNab's thrillers in the unread queue on my bookshelf.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A spicy Tom Yum, 28 Feb 2009
This review is from: Live Fire (Paperback)
Another solid outing for Spider, this time going undercover to join a group of bank-robbers in Pattaya, Thailand which is home territory (Private Dancer) for Leather and he covers the sordid resort well and with some amusement as Razor manages to enjoy himself. The robbers attempts to buy some RPG's crosses a plot with some British born Muslim terrosists similarly buying weapons to cause havoc at home. Spider has to charm and deceive the felons as well as stop a terrorist attack, in a plot that becomes as spicy as good Tom Yum Goong. A fine read even if a tad rushed and far-fetched at the end. For those who enjoy Thai crime try Jake Needham or John Burdett's books.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad..., 8 Mar 2009
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Live Fire (Paperback)
Stephen Leather does not write bad novels, just those within the scale of good to very good indeed. This falls to the lower end of that scale but is still a solid thriller.
'Spider' Shepherd is an undercover officer who is inserted into the world of the bad guys, as illustrated in the previous books, all of which are worth picking up. Here Spider is after a bunch of British bank robbers who live in Thailand and commute to the UK for the occasional big bank heist. As Spider gets closer to the gang, there are a group of terrorists also planning something in London, and eventually their paths will cross.....
Although not quite up to previous standards this is not bad. The finish is a little hurried and there are a few moments where you do think "hang on, why didn't he..." but overall not a bad way to while away a few hours.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As always....a great read!, 4 Jun 2014
I'm reading the Spider novels in order interspersed with the short stories if his SAS exploits which give background to the character. I enjoyed this one as I have been to Pattaya in Thailand and the description in so accurate about what a seedy place it is and the ex pats there.
There are two tales here.....one of Spiders undercover assignment ...and another of a terrorist plot which he uncovers. OK....it's far fetched....but nevertheless an enjoyably thriller which is topical on both threads of the story. I enjoyed reading it even more than the others because there wasn't too much about his personal relationship with his young son which I find a bit tedious.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crackin read!, 18 May 2014
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Another cracker from Leather! I cannot wait to read the next book in the series! Superb writing I am hooked.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best I've read, 24 April 2014
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One of the best spider shepherds - very fast paced and I have read them all !

A must read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, 13 Feb 2014
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Yet another great.read it's just as good the
second.time.round I hope there is. More to come.from
Stephen leather. Great books
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 29 Jan 2014
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As always Stephen Leather books are interesting and hold your attention. They are not too in depth and heavy so are good if you want them for holidays. Will be trying his other Spider series
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another brilliant Sheppard thriller, 15 Dec 2013
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Thrilling read

Difficult to put the book down

Looking forward to the next thriller

Would recommend to anyone that likes this kind of thriller
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Fantastic author, 15 Dec 2013
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Stephen Leather is an outstanding author. His Spider shepherd series is simply brilliant, insightful and addictive. Whilst some of his other material appears to be based around the Spider Shepherd character - they are all still as addictive and interesting. Highly recommend any books by this author.
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LIVE FIRE (The 6th Spider Shepherd Thriller)
LIVE FIRE (The 6th Spider Shepherd Thriller) by Stephen Leather (Paperback - 20 Aug 2009)
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