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Book Review: Hard Landing

by Lang Reid

Stephen Leather’s latest book is out. Hard Landing (ISBN 0-340-73411-6, Hodder and Stoughton, 2004) has a cover with the author’s name in larger font than the book title, showing the fact that author Leather has 14 previous books in the last 12 years to his credit, and by now his name is the drawcard, rather than a catchy book title or attractive cover.

Leather is also no stranger to Thailand, and can often be seen warming a seat in Shenanigans Irish Pub in Pattaya. That this establishment has made its mark on Stephen Leather becomes even more apparent when you read in this book that one of the arch-baddies is called Kim Fletcher, the Shenanigans landlord, and the arch-crim is named after one of the shareholders Gerry Carpenter. This ‘honour’ was one that went to a charity auction last year, with the Shenanigans Gerry being the highest bidder to be enshrined in a Leather thriller.

The book revolves around a drug baron (Carpenter) and his desire not to spend time behind bars, where he was currently on remand, waiting for his case to come up so that he could be sent down! To ensure he was going to be discharged, he was systematically getting rid of evidence that could be used against him - including disposing of the expert witnesses and eye witnesses. This he was masterminding from within the confines of the remand cells, using his general factotum and strong-arm merchant Kim Fletcher. But how? This was what the police needed to know.

To crack this conundrum, the boys in blue devise a scheme whereby they plant an undercover police agent in the remand wing of the jail with Carpenter. However, since they did not know who to trust ‘on the inside’ they had to fabricate a very real reason for the undercover agent to be there.

Leather fabricates this undercover mole as an ex-SAS operative called Dan ‘Digger’ Shepherd, a devout family man who is prepared to lose all in the quest to keep the name of Queen and country unsullied. Read to find out how.

The review copy was made available by Bookazine, and copies should be found at all major bookstores with English language titles. The RRP was B. 395. For the legions of Leather fans, this will be another voracious read, and for the legions of Kim Fletcher and Gerry Carpenter acquaintances, the names will be reason enough to get this book, even if just for a laugh.

For me, I was not as impressed with this one as I was with Tango One, released a couple of years ago. Tango One was a true thriller, while with Hard Landing, I felt that author Leather was trying too hard to give me a ‘morality message’. By doing this I became more and more offside with this book, and began to find the principal characters less believable. But one enduring message from Hard Landing was that to be ‘in’ with the ‘inside’ crowd, you need Reeboks, Adidas trainers and a Nike cap. Since I possess none of these, perhaps that was my problem with this book.

Mott's CD Reviews:  The Faces - A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse

Part Two – … in the mornin’ don’t say you love me

Pawed by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew

5 Stars *****
After the first song, ‘Miss Judy’s Farm’, a great fat slab of Rock ‘n’ Roll from the combined pen of Stewart/Wood, giving the band a chance to stretch their wings, next up is one of Ronnie Lane’s most amusing and rascally songs, ‘You’re So Rude’, basically just a cleverly played twelve bar stomper, but for this dog it is the lyrics that steal the day, opening up with...

“My Mum She likes you, she thinks your swell,
Got the makin’s of a Dance Hall Girl,
Your low-cut frock and your Bird’s nest Hair,
Stiletto heels and the way that you swear,
She says to take you back to see my folks again on Sunday,
Why it looks as though there’s nobody in,
They’ve all gone out to see my Auntie Renee.”

I say be fair. Does that not bring a smile to the old laughing gear? Beautifully the band follows this with an emotional ballad ‘Love Lives Here’. The haunting organ chords from Ian McLagen prove that he knows exactly when to stick to the piano or when to bring out the Hammond Organ. About knocking down old homes and the memories that go with them, Rod Stewart has never sung better.

‘Last Orders’ by Ronnie Lane is a cruising, bluesing pub song about the misunderstanding between the sexes.

Then it is ‘Stay With Me’ time. The hit single from the album is about as Faces as you can get. One of the best lads songs ever written. The entire band plays their collective hearts out, with everybody being given solo space as the song is brought to a thunderous conclusion at the end of its four and a half minute run. The sort of thing head banging was invented for. But still it is the lyrics that add wit and soul to the proceedings. Just before the band goes wild, Rod sings out...

“So, in the mornin’, please don’t say you love me,
‘Cause you know I’ll only kick you out the door,
Yeah, I’ll pay your cab fare home,
You can even use my best cologne,
Just don’t be here in the mornin’ when I wake up.”

Pace-wise, the foot is taken off the peddle for four and a half minutes for Ronnie Lane to sing his classic homage to growing up and becoming famous while leaving others behind, and to the duties that come with it.

But from here on out it is pure barnstorming Faces style good time music. A romp through Chuck’s ‘Memphis’ with some truly magnificent slide from Woody, the delights of being evicted from your own party ‘Too Bad’, and the perfect closer in ‘That’s All You Need’. The latter two Stewart/Wood compositions bring it all round in a circle in the style of ‘Miss Judy’s Farm’.

Of course it couldn’t last. After one more chart topping album (‘Ohh La La’ April 1975) Ronnie Lane left. Although he was replaced, it was never the same. As Rod Stewart gained more and more of the spotlight, tension mounted, but it was the other Ronnie who left first. He joined ‘The Rolling Stones’ as Mick Taylor’s replacement, and eventually took Ian McLagan with him. Kenny Jones went on to the unenviable position of replacing Keith Moon in ‘The Who’, and, of course, Rod Stewart went onto solo superstardom. However, to these old ears none of them ever reached this peak again.

As they say ‘A Nod’s As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse’. And if that is not enough for you, you could try their greatest hits album, which was released in 2001 ‘Good Boys Whilst We Are Asleep’. It collects the best from all four albums plus assorted hit singles, but fortunately nothing from their dreadful live album ‘Coast to Coast’, which was recorded on their last tour of America, and did not find the Band on a good night. A dreadful shame really, as the period that this album comes from they were one of the best live Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the world.

Rod Stewart - Vocals and Harmonica
Ronnie Wood - Guitars
Ronnie Lane - Bass and Vocals
Ian Mclagen - Keyboards
Kenny Jones - Drums


Miss Judy’s Farm
You’re So Rude
Love Lived Here
Last Orders Please
Stay With Me
Too Bad
That’s All You Need

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