Stephen Leather

False Friends

"An author of Leather’s experience should deliver tight prose which pulls the reader in and this is delivered in spades..."


When Navy Seals find and kill Osama Bin Laden it is obvious that there has been a traitor. The false friends are revealed to be two British students – Malik and Chaudhry who are former Islamic fundamentalists recruited by MI5 – they become targets themselves.

Dan 'Spider' Shepherd must now teach the two young men how to survive undercover as al-Qaeda close in. Unused to playing the handler, Shepherd finds the line between mentor and friend blurring. With a terrorist plot threatening thousands of lives can he protect everyone before it's too late?

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An awful lot of things have been written about Stephen Leather on the internet of late. Very few of them have actually commented on his writing which is what I'm going to do. 'False Friends' starts off with Spider being seconded to join the Navy Seal team who are after Bin Laden. It is a massively entertaining piece of gung-ho action which puts Spider in the role of moral conscience. One of the best things for me was the way that Leather re-invented his hero's role to that of mentor and handler. It allowed him to really expose and discuss both the tradecraft and the clinical distance handlers must have. The way Spider's boss coldly behaved was a chilling insight into the secret life of MI5 agents. Leather can write a strong story and the terrorist plot was a very clever idea. The sub plot of Spider going undercover to elicit an arms deal made for fine reading and it also allowed Leather to use the wonderful character who is Sharpe. Spider Shepherd has been around for a while now, yet Leather handles his hero carefully and still surprises the reader with little reveals about his home life. Malik and Chaudhry are drawn with an expert eye and their interplay and fears are beautifully drawn. An author of Leather's experience should deliver tight prose which pulls the reader in and this is delivered in spades although most of the best lines fall from Sharpe's mouth. All in all it is a great novel which will entertain readers with a tight plot, realistic action and believable characters.

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