Hard Landing (Dan Shepherd #1) by Stephen Leather

Description: Dan Shepherd is used to putting his life on the line. Working for an elite undercover squad, he’s lied, cheated, and conned in order to bring Britain’s most wanted criminals to justice. But when a powerful drug lord starts to kill off witnesses to his crimes, Shepherd has no choice but to go undercover in a high-security prison—a world where one wrong move will mean certain death. As Shepherd gambles everything to move in on his quarry, he soon realizes that the man he’s hunting is far more dangerous than the police realize—and that he’s capable of striking outside the prison walls and hitting Shepherd where it hurts most.

Opening: Trish Elliott ran her hand across her stomach for the hundredth time since she’d left the doctor’s surgery. It didn’t feel as if there was a new life growing inside her – it was far too early for any movement or kicks, for the baby to make its presence felt. But Trish had known straight away this time, after years of trying, she was pregnant. The third pregnancy test had confirmed what her body had been telling her.

The story opens out on an armed robbery at Gatwick Airport. The action is tough yet not gratuitously described in detail. In a way, it’s a bit like this(view spoiler) but a hell of a lot tougher, and without the hilarious wordplay.

An eye-scorcher of a read, especially when the ‘who dares wins’ gang comes into play, no wonder Leather’s books are popular with inmates.

Trivia: As part of the research for Hard Landing he spent a day inside Belmarsh Prison in South London. Whilst there, he discovered that his books were very popular in the prison library. Read more…

Belmarsh Prison, London

The Listener scheme is a peer support service which aims to reduce suicide and self-harm in prisons. Samaritans volunteers select, train and support prisoners to become Listeners. Listeners provide confidential emotional support to their fellow inmates who are struggling to cope.

The first Listener scheme was introduced at HMP Swansea in 1991. Now, nearly every prison in England, Scotland and Wales has one. There are an increasing number of Listener schemes in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland too. Last year there were more than 1500 Listeners in prisons across the UK and Ireland and over 74,000 requests for support from the prison population. Read more…

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