First Response

Many authors have had interesting and varied careers before being able to write full time. Stephen Leather ( is one of them. He has been employed as a biochemist for ICI, shovelled limestone in a quarry, been a baker, a petrol pump attendant, a barman, a journalist, and worked for the Inland Revenue. Leather has published an average of a title every year since 1988. His subject matter is crime, imprisonment, military service, and terrorism, and settings are typically London and the Far East.


In Leather’s latest thriller, First Response, London is under siege. Nine men in suicide vests, primed to explode, hold hostages in nine different locations and are ready to die for their cause. Their mission¬†is to force the Government to release jihadist prisoners from Belmarsh Prison. The deadline is 6pm today. But the bombers are ‘cleanskins’, terrorists with no obvious link to any group, and who do not appear on any anti-terror watch list. What¬†could have¬†brought them together on this one day to act in this way? Mo Kamran is the Superintendent in charge of the Special Crime and Operations branch of the Met. As the disaster unfolds and the SAS, armed police, and other emergency services rush to the scenes, he is tasked with preventing the biggest terrorist outrage the capital has ever known. But nothing is what it seems. And only Kamran has the big picture. Will anyone believe him?


This is all very reminiscent of the plot lines in TV’s ‘Spooks‘¬† (¬†– London being held to ransom under a concerted terrorist attack.¬†It’s probably no co-incidence that Leather has written screenplays for London’s Burning, The Knock, and the BBC’s Murder in Mind.¬†The scenario¬†has the merit of being chillingly plausible and the demerit of being pretty hackneyed by now. You either like this sort of stuff or you don’t.¬†Rest assured you’re safer in Lanark High Street than Holborn Tube Station.


Enquire at your local library or consult  for full bibliographic detail.


384 pages in Hodder & Stoughton

First published 2016

ISBN  978-1473604605


Stephen Leather Profile.jpg

Stephen Leather

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