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4.6 out of 5 stars242
4.6 out of 5 stars
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2014
Overall I liked this book, however, there were a couple of points that had me saying to myself 'not likely'. For example, the book starts with the US Seal's raid on Bin Laden's hideout. Shepherd goes a long as an observer as, in this version of events, the info of Bin Laden's whereabouts came from the British. This was the most important raid by the Seals yet they had space for a Brit passenger. Once there Shepherd starts criticising the marines for killing indiscriminately. There is a debate to be had here over the raid, but while it was going on struck me as unlikely. There is little of Liam in this book but we are told again that Shepherd goes running in boots with a rucksack full of bricks. The book covers two parallel investigations, one being the concerning the Muslims who provided the intel on Bin Laden's whereabouts the other on arms dealers. Both are developed separately and handled well. Shepherd himself does seem to have discovered a softer approach to law enforcement but still does the business when all the right boxes are ticked. Some have complained that the book was padded with contemporary observations of how Muslims are fitting in within the UK but I felt this was just scene setting. The book ends in a spectacular fashion as you expect with these books, whether you think such things would fall into place so easily is another matter. And the book was not too long!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2014
Books can be difficult or they can be like hanging out with an old friend. Stephen Leather has a writing style that always guarantees the latter to the case. All his books are great fun and easy to get into. Perfect for loading into a bag or sticking on your kindle app. Easy to read for an hour or two, even easier to read for a few minutes and then return to. I like Spider, you know what you are getting with him and it never disappoints.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 2 August 2012
Stephen Leather has written another fast-paced action thriller involving Dan 'Spider' Shepherd of MI5. A Navy Seal helicopter invasion of a compound in Abittabad leads to the assassination of Osama Bin Laden and his son. Shepherd is a reluctant observer who was under the impression that it was a capture operation, not a shoot to kill. The information on the location of the al-Qaeda leader was provided to MI5 by two Muslim students, Chaudhry and Malik, who had been seconded to a training programme in Pakistan and had met Bin Laden. Strict, honest Muslims with a conscience, they have a revulsive attitude to violence, particularly amongst British Muslims. Fearing al-Qaeda revenge, Shepherd is their handler under an alias. He is responsible for their well-being using surveillance when necessary. Khalid is their mentor in England. An al-Qaeda operative, he is grooming them for a major terrorist attack on an as yet unkown target. He demands total loyalty from his operatives. They are naturally anxious but ready for the call, (as long as Shepherd is rapidly on their case to intervene).

Meanwhile, Charlie Button, Shepherd's boss at MI5, has him seconded to the Met., under orders from number 10, meeting up with old colleagues Jimmy 'Razor' Sharpe and DCS Sam Hargrove to infiltrate a right-wing group, the English Defence League, whose fanatical leaders are based in Birmingham and planning a mass act of terrorism requiring high-tech. guns and ammunition. Spider and Razor go undercover as suppliers.

The novel moves at pace and is written with a topical slant. Politics, al-Qaeda activity and threat, potential mass murder (akin to the Oslo slaughter), racial mixing, undercover agents, taken with views on honesty versus lies, ethics and morals. Spider Shepherd is again superbly portrayed by the author as are Chaudhry and Malik whose characters are well-developed, with the reader easily warming to them and their predicament. Plenty of characters, action and current topics to chew on in this enjoyable, easy read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2013
So spiders a handler in this novel? Offering a motherly guide to two Islamic infiltrators. A real mix of themes from the killing of bin laden to football thugs linked to a real life Norwegian terrorist movement and a bit of home grown Islamic terrorism thrown in for good measure. His home life goes on the back burner as well, a move I personally thank Mr Leather for and dare I say it The rucksack full of bricks was only mentioned in passing as well. Now onto number 10 (the book that is not Downing street)
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on 15 February 2015
Not the best Spider novel....but I appreciate it's difficult to keep a character interesting. I'm glad that in this novel he has kept his son and housekeeper to a minimum as they were getting boring....and thank goodness those in laws have gone!
The plot is very contemporary ....predating the recent events in Paris and Copenhagen.....frightening really....and the different opinions amongst the Muslim groups is well is the unwritten feeling that the UK has lost the plot with regards treating terrorists with benefits etc...controversial maybe but true....and needs to be aired.
Didn't like the idea of Spider being present on the Seal raid on Bin Laden.....just too unlikely to be believed. But what was worse was his objections to the killing. Is Spider turning into some lefty pinko? This was the man who shot and killed a defenceless IRA woman not long ago....I doubt very much that he would shed a tear for BL.
So that's why I've only given it three stars....oh yes, and also because of the tendency of latter novels of interweaving two plots.....what was the point of the Birmingham plot involving arms trading?....
Anyway I am still a Spider fan and look forward to future tales when he can revert to being the hard man that he was without some wimpy attitude problems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2014
I have only very recently discovered the Spider Shepherd books, and boy, have I made up for lost time! I have read all ten in the series, plus the short stories and have pre-ordered number 11. These are well written thrillers and rattle along at a great pace. If you like action and a decent hero I thoroughly recommend the Spider Shepherd thrillers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2013
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2014
Fabulous, gripping writing as all the Dan Shepherd series is. Stephen Leather pulls you in from the very first page as Dan starts out in another undercover role and he cleverly weaves in several storylines a which of course all come to a tense, fast finale.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2012
I like the Spider Shepherd character a lot James Bondish with attitude. The beginning of the Spider series was great - loved the way the characters developed - Mr. Leather spins a good yarn. However as the series continues the stories become increasingly similar and predictable - with some right wing themes that the readers of the Daily Mail will feel right at home with! Is all good boys own adventures with some light weight current news events woven into the plot for good measure - nothing too taxing - good escapism. Will I read another - more than likely, but it's getting to the point where Spider needs to hang up his running boots - perhaps Jimmy Sharpe could take more of a central role - now there's a gritty colourful character I would like to read more of with a good dose of non PC.
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