“ Author: Stephen Leather / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 01 February 2001 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Subcategory: Thriller / Suspense General / Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division / Title: The Stretch / ISBN 13: 9780340770337 / ISBN 10: 0340770337 „
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When gang boss Terry Greene is sent to prison for a murder he says he did not commit, his estranged wife and mother of three is forced to take over in his absence. Here she finds the extent of her husband's involvement with serious crimes including counterfeit money and the importation of drugs... So begins this novel written by exciting thriller novelist Stephen Leather.
Often compared with the likes of Clancy and Higgins, Leather writes good page-turners that don't let go and The Stretch is no exception. Fairly easy to read, his books are well written and popular. He also writes screenplays, which include episodes of the Bill and Murder in Mind. The Stretch was made into a film for Sky TV and starred Anita Dodson and Leslie Grantham. I have read several of his books before and look out for them in the bookshops. Other novels include: The Birthday Girl, The Double Tap and The Bombmaker (also made as a Sky TV film).
The Stretch, stretches to over three hundred pages, but the writing is not too small, so you might well finish it in a couple of weeks. You can get a copy from most bookshops. It is chiefly the story of Sam Greene learning all about her husband's ways when he spends a stretch in prison. She learns that he is not too nice a chap really and she ponders whether or not he would be better left behind bars. She takes over his roles as gang leader. Dealing with drug shipments, and illegal drink. As she had been estranged from him, she does not like having to do this, but the family is broke and it needs to be done.
Meanwhile, several sub-plots feature her relationship with her children. Trisha, the youngest, hates her father and is the clichéd teenager. Jamie is supportive of both her parents, but is away at university. And Laura is tied up in a marriage to an abusive husband who takes out his frustrations on her by beating her. Also on the see is a policeman called Welch. Nicknamed Rachel, he hates the Greene family and will do anything to bring the lot of them down. When someone confesses to the murder that Terry was supposed to have committed, Terry is set free and Welch is livid. Howver, Sam Greene soon starts to learn other things about her husband, deep secrets that this reviewer is not going to reveal. You will have to get the book.
So, overall I enjoyed this book. It kept me occupied during my journeys to work on the bus and was not too taxing. The mark of any good book is whether or not you had to keep reading it, and this book I did. If I have any qualms, it will be that it can be a bit predictable at times and one wonders is Sam Greene would have slotted into the role as gang boss as easy as she did.
More information about Stephen Leather can be found at www.stephenleather.com which is a really good website hosted by the man himself, offering free downloads and lots of details.
Also written for Ciao UK by me as 'Borg.'