Hot Blood - Stephen Leather
Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd is used to putting his life on the line. It goes with the turf when you’re an undercover cop. Now working for the Serious Organised Crime Agency, Shepherd is pitting his wits against the toughest criminals in the country. But when the man who once saved his life is kidnapped in the badlands of Iraq, thrown into a basement and threatened with execution, Shepherd has to decide whether his loyalties lie with his country, his career, or his friend.
Shepherd and his former SAS colleagues realise that the hostage has been abandoned by the Government and that officially nothing is being done to rescue him. And with the execution deadline a few days away, Shepherd knows that the only way to save the life of his friend is to put himself in the firing line in the most dangerous city in the world – Baghdad.
STEPHEN LEATHER WRITES
Hot Blood is the fourth book to feature SAS trooper turned undercover cop Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd, and I think the character is getting better and better. Although he is an undercover cop, I wanted to take him outside the UK and in Hot Blood I have him flying to Dubai and Baghdad. I went to Dubai on a three-day press trip promoting Cold Kill and I took the opportunity to do lots of research. It’s a curious place, like a massive building site in the midst of a desert, and I really don’t understand why so many Westerners are rushing to buy there. A former Fleet Street journalist, John Deykin, showed me around the city’s nightspots, and while none of that ‘research’ made its way into the book, I did have a great time.
I thought long and hard about going to Baghdad. I could have gone, no question of that, I have plenty of friends and contacts who work there who would have been happy to have taken me in. But it’s just so bloody dangerous. The risk of car bombs and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) is bad enough, but add to that the risk of being kidnapped and it was just too dangerous. It’s one thing to write about being beheaded, quite another to be locked in a basement knowing that your head is going to be hacked off.
So, no, I didn’t go to Baghdad to do the research. I read lots of magazine and newspaper articles about Iraq, and hit the internet with a vengeance. I watched as many movies set in post-Saddam Iraq as I could get hold of, and spoke to my friends about what life is like there. I was also lucky to be put in touch with an American, James ‘Jesse’ Kibbee Jnr, who had worked in Iraq for a logistical company. Jesse was kind enough to let me read the journal of his experiences and it was a big help in giving me a feel for what life is like in that most dangerous of countries.
There’s an American character in the book called Richard Yokely, a shady former CIA guy who now works for a black ops department of Homeland Security. He’s great fun to write and I plan to have him making regular appearances in the Spider Shepherd books. Ditto with Charlotte Button, the former MI5 agent who now heads up the SOCA undercover unit. I’m thinking about doing a novel with her as the central character.
I am really enjoying writing about Spider Shepherd. He gets promoted to Detective Sergeant at the end of Cold Kill, and I plan to make him up to Detective Inspector within the next couple of books. The one thing I won’t be doing is killing him off. I made that mistake with Mike ‘Joker’ Cramer who appeared in The Chinaman, The Long Shot and The Double Tap. But Spider is going to run and run.