Written by Graeme McGaw

It was a few years ago when I got into the whole “lone wolf” action man style of books. You know the kind – the main protagonist is for the most part by himself, going about taking out all of the bad guys. The books I read of that nature usually stick to the action/spy/thriller genre.

The first series I got into was the Jack Reacher series, and I’m sure all of you know about that series. As is natural after reading all the books, I immediately searched for “Books like Jack Reacher” or “If you like Jack Reacher, you’ll like….”. I came across various blog posts, comments, articles and web forums with various discussions on this topic and I spent hours writing them all down, as well as the first book in each series so I could try them out.

(Actually technically the Bob Lee Swagger series was first, but the books after the original epic trilogy have forced me to erase him from my mind).

The next series I tried was the Mitch Rapp series. I was hooked from the very first book and flew through them – I still remember finishing the 1st book and ignoring thunderstorm warnings to rush out to the local Chapters to buy the 2nd book. Then the thunderstorm hit and I hid in the McDonalds next door, where I proceeded to read half the book in one sitting.

The Nick Stone series by Andy McNab was next, and that was my last big “success”. I tried various other books in this genre, but nothing could touch those three.

Joseph Finders “Nick Heller”? Good, but only two books in so not much to read. Tom Cains “Samuel Carver”? Finished. Brad Thors “Scot Harvath”? Okay but but couldn’t really get into the series.

And that’s just to name a few – I’d tried many other authors but just could not get into them.

Reacher, Rapp and Stone were the upper tier of “hero” books and looked to be an exclusive trio forever.

Until I started reading the series of books starring Dan “Spider” Shepherd, written by Stephen Leather.

Dan Shepherd is a former SAS Trooper who now works for a special undercover unit, and as of this writing there are 9 books in the series with the 10th to be released in September of this year.

I only started reading the series last week, and it was on a complete whim. My Kindle was sorted by First Name alphabetically, and I went to click on “Stephen King”. I accidentally clicked “Stephen Leather” instead by mistake, and with the first book in the series “Hard Landing” sitting there, decided what the hell and started reading.

Best mistake I ever made.

Often with these type of characters, it takes awhile to really connect with them on an emotional level. It can take 2-3 books of awesome action and writing before you actually realize you care a lot about the character. With Dan Shepherd it took just half the book.

I won’t spoil anything – but Shepherds role in the first novel is to go undercover in a prison. About halfway through the book something happens that is bad for Shepherd – and I literally screamed out loud “Oh No!”. I’d read just half the book, and I was THAT emotionally connected to the character.

The books are great. The writing is top-notch. The action is fantastic, and the writing really paints a clear picture in your head as to what is happening. But it’s the emotional level where you actually CARE about a character so quickly that really stood out to me.

Sometimes you can’t put a book down – especially near the end – because you want to see what happens. With me it wasn’t just that – I also CARED about Shepherd, and wanted to make sure everything would work out okay.

The other thing I really appreciated was the pricing. I’m not a big fan of the ebook pricing model – actually often when I buy an ebook I feel like I am getting ripped off, as they’re usually more expensive than the paperback. First – the majority of the Spider Shepherd books are cheaper on Kindle than they are on paper.

But even better – the first book in the series, Hard Landing? Just $1.66 for the Kindle edition.

It’s such a small thing but to me, it means so much. It’s a GREAT way to introduce new readers to the series. When I’m trying a new series I’ll usually check my local library first, rather than fork out $10 for a book I may not like. But with a price like that how can you not give it a try?

I’m at the stage right now where I’m reading one new Spider Shepherd book every 2 days. They’re just that good and I cannot put them down.

I give the Spider Shepherd books my highest recommendation, and he rightly joins my bookshelf along with Reacher, Rapp and Stone. Although I took out the original covers and replaced them with Harry Potter book covers.

I mean, he IS undercover after all.

Order of Books » Blog » Book Review: Spider Shepherd Series – Up There With Reacher & Rapp
  • Stephen Leather

    Thanks for putting me in such great company, Graeme! :-)