Related to: 'The Birthday Girl'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Hodder & Stoughton

Tall Order

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder & Stoughton

Light Touch

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

Working undercover is all about trust - getting the target to trust you and then betraying them in order to bring them to justice.But what do you do when you believe an undercover cop has crossed the line and aligned herself with the international drugs smuggler she was supposed to be targeting?When Lisa Wilson stops passing on intelligence about her target, MI5 sends in Dan 'Spider' Shepherd to check that she's on the straight and narrow.Now the lives of two undercover operatives are on the line.***********Praise for Stephen Leather'[Leather] has the uncanny knack of producing plots that are all too real' Daily Mail'Let Spider draw you into his web, you won't regret it' - Sun

Hodder & Stoughton

Takedown

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

A heart-pounding new standalone thriller from Sunday Times bestselling author Stephen Leather. 'He has the uncanny knack of producing plots that are all too real, and this is no exception' (Daily Mail on First Response)When a British Special Forces soldier goes rogue, carrying out an attack at a US army base in Syria leading to the death of two men, ex-MI5 controller Charlotte Button is hired to work out what his plan is and to take him down before he can carry it out.Charlotte puts her best man on the case - hitman Lex Harper. It's up to Lex to assemble a crack team and get to the soldier before he carries out what could be a massive terrorist attack. But Charlotte might require Lex's help with a more personal problem too . . .As ex-MI5, Charlotte holds information on thousands of the agency's dirty operations, and keeps a store of those secrets in three flash drives hidden in separate safety deposit vaults. Now someone is taking extraordinary measures to recover the secrets through Hatton Garden-style robberies. So far two vaults have been raided, and two flash drives have gone. If the third is stolen, Charlotte's life will be in jeopardy. While it's down to Lex to prevent a potential terrorist attack on British soil, Charlotte must work out who is after her and what they want.

Hodder & Stoughton

Dark Forces

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder & Stoughton

First Response

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

From the bestselling author of the Spider Shepherd and Jack Nightingale series comes First Response, the utterly addictive new thriller by Stephen Leather. London is under siege. Nine men in suicide vests primed to explode hold hostages in nine different locations around the city, and are ready to die for their cause.Their mission: to force the government to release jihadist prisoners from Belmarsh Prison.Their deadline: 6 p.m. 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 has 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?A chillingly plausible and pulse-pounding depiction of how London might be held to ransom in a concerted terrorist attack: this is thriller writing at its very best.

Hodder & Stoughton

Black Ops

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

'Let Spider draw you into his web, you won't regret it' - SunSpider Shepherd's MI5 controller, Charlie Button, has gone rogue, using government resources to get revenge on the men who killed her husband. Spider is told to betray her. Worse, he's asked to cooperate with his nemesis at MI6, Jeremy Willoughby-Brown, in taking Charlie down. And he will have to cross the assassin, Lex Harper, currently on the trail of two Irish terrorists, who may be able to lead him to his ex-boss.Meanwhile, another high profile mission is about to engulf Spider. President Vladimir Putin is about to visit the UK and a father who lost his daughter on the downed Malaysian plane over the Ukraine holds Putin directly responsible for her death and wants revenge.Along with everything else, it's down to Spider to stop the assassination of a head of state on British soil.

Hodder & Stoughton

Stephen Leather: The First Novels

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder & Stoughton

Fair Game

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

The eighth book in the bestselling Dan 'Spider' Shepherd series. Kidnapping is one of the cruellest crimes - lives are put at risk for cold, hard cash. But when Somali pirates seize the crew of a yacht off the coast of Africa, they bite off more than they can chew.One of the hostages has friends in high places and Spider Shepherd is put on the case. He goes deep undercover in an audacious plan to bring an end to the pirate gang's reign of terror.But as Shepherd closes in on his quarry he realises that there's much more at stake than the lives of the hostages and that the pirates are involved in a terrorist plot that will strike at the heart of London.

Hodder & Stoughton

Live Fire

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

The sixth book in the bestselling Dan 'Spider' Shepherd series. Mickey and Mark Moore are Ordinary Decent Criminals - hard men who live by their own code and leaders of a gang that has made millions at the point of a gun. But when Dan 'Spider' Shepherd is sent to infiltrate the tightly-knit team of bank robbers, he discovers that he has more in common with them then he first thought. And that perhaps being a career criminal isn't the worst thing in the world. As Shepherd and his Serious Organised Crime Agency colleagues plot the downfall of the Moore brothers, a more sinister threat stalks the streets of London. A group of home-grown Islamic fundamentalist fanatics embark on a campaign of terror the like of which Britain has never seen. Car bombs and beheadings are only the prelude of what they have planned. And Shepherd is the only man who can stop them.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Long Shot

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

The plan is so complex, the target so well protected that the three snipers have to rehearse the killing in the seclusion of the Arizona desert.Cole Howard of the FBI knows he has only days to prevent the audacious assassination. But he doesn't know who the target is. Or where the crack marksmen will strike.Former SAS sergeant Mike Cramer is also on the trail, infiltrating the Irish community in New York as he tracks down Mary Hennessy, the ruthless killer who tore his life apart.Unless Cramer and Howard agree to co-operate, the world will witness the most spectacular terrorist coup of all time . . .

Hodder & Stoughton

The Solitary Man

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

Chris Hutchison is a man on the run.Imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, Hutch escapes from a British maximum-security prison and starts a new life in Hong Kong. But a ghost from his past catches up with him and gives him a choice: help a former terrorist break out of a Bangkok prison - or face life behind bars once more.Meanwhile, the DEA wants to nail the vicious drug warlord responsible for flooding the States with cheap heroin. And decides to use Hutch as a pawn in a deadly game.Hutch's bid for freedom takes him into the lawless killing fields of the Golden Triangle, where the scene is set for one final act of betrayal . . .**********PRAISE FOR STEPHEN LEATHER'A master of the thriller genre'Irish Times'A writer at the top of his game'Sunday Express 'As tough as British thrillers get . . . gripping' Irish Independent

Hodder & Stoughton

Tango One

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder & Stoughton

The Stretch

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder & Stoughton

The Eyewitness

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

Jack Solomon is a messenger of death.Working in the fractured remains of Yugoslavia, his task is to identify the victims of ethnic cleansing and to tell families that their loved ones are never coming home.Years of toiling in the killing fields have desensitised the former London policeman to the horrors of war, but when a truck containing twenty-six bodies is pulled from a lake, Solomon is unable to walk away from the case.He sets out to track down the only survivor of the massacre, a young girl on the run from the killers. Solomon's hunt for the last witness takes him from the brothels of Sarajevo to the high-stakes world of London's internet prostitution - where he will discover that the killers are closer to home than he thinks . . .*********PRAISE FOR STEPHEN LEATHER'A master of the thriller genre'Irish Times'A writer at the top of his game'Sunday Express'In the top rank of thriller writers' Jack Higgins

Hodder & Stoughton

The Fireman

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

Sally is a young, talented journalist living life to the full. So why would she leap fifteen floors to her death?When the Hong Kong authorities decide it was suicide, Sally's brother, a London-based crime reporter, begins his own investigation to find out what really happened . . .And to exact his revenge.***********PRAISE FOR STEPHEN LEATHER'A master of the thriller genre'Irish Times'A writer at the top of his game'Sunday Express'In the top rank of thriller writers' Jack Higgins

Hodder & Stoughton

Dead Men

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

The fifth book in the bestselling Dan 'Spider' Shepherd series.Former SAS trooper turned undercover cop Dan Spider Shepherd knows there are no easy solutions in the war against terrorism. But when a killer starts to target pardoned IRA terrorists, Shepherd has to put his life on the line to protect his former enemies. While he is undercover in Belfast, a grief-stricken Saudi whose two sons died under torture in the name of the War on Terror is planning to avenge their deaths by striking out at two people close to Shepherd. As the Muslim assassin closes in on his prey, Shepherd realises that the only way to save lives is to become a killer himself.

Hodder Paperbacks

Cold Kill

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

The third book in the bestselling Dan 'Spider' Shepherd series. Even deadlier than terrorists . . . are the men trying to stop them.People-smuggling, counterfeit currency and attempted murder. It's all in a day's work for undercover cop Dan 'Spider' Shepherd. But what starts as a run-of-the mill investigation quickly turns into a matter of life and death when he uncovers a terrorist cell on a mission of death and destruction. The target: hundreds of passengers on a cross-channel train deep below the English Channel.With the clock ticking and the explosives primed, Shepherd and his colleagues have to decide just how far they are prepared to go to save innocent lives. And they realise that to avoid catastrophe, they have to be even more merciless than the terrorists.

Hodder Paperbacks

Soft Target

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder Paperbacks

Hard Landing

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder Paperbacks

The Vets

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

Hong Kong. The British administration is preparing to hand the capitalist colony back to Communist China with the minimum of fuss.Colonel Joel Tyler, however, has other plans for the British colony - plans that involve four Vietnam War veterans and a spectacular mission making use of their unique skills.But while the vets are preparing to take the country by storm, their paymaster, Anthony Chung, puts the final touches to an audacious betrayal. The future of Hong Kong is at stake . . .*********PRAISE FOR STEPHEN LEATHER'A master of the thriller genre'Irish Times'A writer at the top of his game'Sunday Express'In the top rank of thriller writers' Jack Higgins