Book review: Rough Justice by Stephen Leather

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When you feel the justice system has failed, what do you do?

Shrug your shoulders and accept it ... or take arms and deal out your own version of ‘rough justice.’

Former journalist Stephen Leather is never afraid to tackle the big issues of the day and if his fast-paced, hard-nosed Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd novels enter controversial waters, he is always prepared to go against the flow.

Vigilantism comes under Leather’s discerning eye in Spider’s latest undercover outing with London’s Serious Organised Crime Agency and, as usual, trouble and rebellion are never far away.

Because Spider is not happy about being asked to spy on other cops, even if technically they are villains, and when Spider is not happy, anything can happen...

Over the past year, a dozen or so Yardie gangsters have returned to Jamaica after being tortured and beaten to a pulp but, mysteriously, they never made a word of complaint to the police.

A convicted paedophile has been found strangled under a railways arch, a drug dealer has been set up for murder and some ruthless housebreakers have suffered horrific hand injuries.

All the clues point to Paddington Green’s Territorial Support Group, a special police unit whose remit is to react to violent situations and help reduce crime by supporting local bobbies.

Spider’s boss, Charlotte Button, is convinced that a vigilante group of disillusioned cops is responsible for the attacks and wants Spider to weed them out.

It’s a tough call for Spider because he too is becoming increasingly angry with a criminal justice system that puts pensioners in prison for not paying their council tax while ‘letting murderers and rapists roam the streets.’

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, five British soldiers are mown down in a Chinese restaurant by two Real IRA assassins and one of the victims is the nephew of Spider’s old boss from his days as an SAS trooper.

Major Gannon thinks he knows the identity of the killers and he needs Spider to help him track them down and dispense another round of lethal rough justice.

It’s a dangerous, illegal mission that will threaten Spider’s family and could spell the end of his career...

Rough Justice is a top drawer thriller with blood-soaked action, terrifyingly real villains, spine-tingling menace and a pulsating plot with serious ethical issues at its heart.

Another class act from Mr Leather...

(Hodder & Stoughton, hardback, £19.99)