The Stretch - Stephen Leather
When career criminal Terry Greene is sentenced to life for a murder he didn't commit, his wife has two choices. To walk away from the criminal empire he'd built up, or to take it over. To become as big a gangster as her husband ever was.
So far as Samantha "Sam" Greene was concerned, there is no choice. All the family's assets are tied up in the business, and family means more to her than anything else in the world.
But being a gangboss doesn't come easily to Sam, not when other criminals are trying to take over what's left of her husband's empire and she's not even sure which of his friends and associates she can trust.
She has problems on the home front, too. An abusive son-in-law and a teenage daughter heading for the wrong side of the tracks. With creditors lining up to bankrupt her and her husband's rivals circling like blood-hungry sharks, Sam finds herself forced into a corner. Her only way out is to prove that she's as tough as any of the men she's up against. And to beat them at their own game.
As Sam gets drawn deeper into a world of drug-dealing and counterfeit money, she realises for the first time the true extent of her husband's illegal activities. And she has to answer two burning questions - can she get her husband out from behind bars? And should she?
Stephen Leather writes: The Stretch was quite a departure for me in that it's the first novel I've written that's based on a screenplay. I originally wrote it as a two-part drama for Sky, starring Leslie Grantham and Anita Dobson, the former Eastenders soap stars.
It's about a gangster's wife, Sam Greene, played by Anita, who has to take over her husband's criminal empire when he gets sent to prison for a murder he says he didn't commit.
It looks great on film, and when I showed the scripts to my editor at Hodder and Stoughton