Hard Landing by Stephen Leather
== Plot synopsis ==
This is the first book in the Dan Shepherd aka Spider series of books. He is an ex SAS trooper who now works for an elite Metropolitan police unit, doing deep undercover work to try to apprehend criminals who can't be caught any other way.
In this he is tasked with playing the part of an armed robber and he is arrested during a robbery that goes bad. He is put in a maximum security prison alongside a drug trafficker called Gerald Carpenter.
Carpenter is awaiting trial, but somehow he is managing to contact the outside world and arrange for witnesses and evidence to be destroyed that may convict him. Shepherd's task is to find out the leak and the method by which Carpenter is communicating with the outside world and put a stop to it.
Shepherd's personal life is under a great deal of strain due to his undercover work. He has a wife Sue, and a young son called Liam. To make matters worse, a family tragedy befalls him whilst he is in prison. We see his struggle as he tries to balance his work alongside his family commitments . . .
== My thoughts ==
Overall, I liked this novel. It doesn't have as much action as I prefer. I would say this is more set in the real world as it were. It follows Shepherd in both his work and family life. Like all this authors other books, he has an easy to read style to his writing, which kept me listening. I wouldn't normally pick one of these type of novels up that follow a policeman around doing his day to day work. The main reason I picked this up was because I've read some of the other author's books and also, because of the fact that the main protagonist has a military background which sounded like it could make for some interesting action sequences.
This book pretty much follows the same basic format as the rest of the books in this series. Shepherd is given a case for which he has to go undercover, alongside this he has to try to manage his personal / family life like the day to day things, and separate out his two personas, and make sure he doesn't get caught out.
I have to say I find Shepherd's son annoying especially in the latter books in this series, but in this, he is still very young and doesn't appear much.
The strain Shepherd feels working undercover vs. trying to juggle his family life is demonstrated nicely. By the end, I wanted to learn more about Shepherd's aka Spider's past especially in the SAS. He gets the nickname 'Spider' because he won a competition one time when in the SAS, to see who could eat the most disgusting thing - He ate a tarantula.
I would like to have had more action but apart from that it is fine, and does an adequate job of introducing you to Shepherd and his basic lifestyle.
== Audio narration and availability ==
This was read by Martyn Read and the Audio cd is priced at £32.49 on the Isis Publishing website (www.isis-publishing.co.uk).
== Summary and recommendation ==
I give this 3 stars. It is a promising start to the Dan Shepherd series of books. It manages to get the right balance between Shepherd's undercover work and his personal life. In most of the latter books, too much time is spent with Shepherd soul searching and questioning whether what he is doing is right.
I would say when you've finished this, you will want to find out more about the main character Dan Shepherd and about his past in the SAS.