The Double Tap - Stephen Leather

First Chapters - Stephen Leather The Double Tap
The Double Tap - Stephen Leather book cover

The assassin - the world's most successful contract killer - ice cool, accurate and elusive. An anonymous professional with a unique calling card - one bullet in the head and one in the chest for each of his targets.

The Judas goat - an ex-member of the SAS, Mike Cramer is the perfect sacrificial bait. When the FBI discover the next name on the assassin's hitlist, Cramer is set up to take his place. Even armed and protected by top SAS marksmen, Cramer must face a bullet at point blank range. And no-one has ever been fast enough to escape the assassin.

The wild card - Cramer's past has caught up with him. Ex-IRA extremist Dermot Lynch blames Cramer for his lover's death and he's out for revenge.

As Cramer trains for the most dangerous mission in his career, Lynch hunts down his sworn enemy. And the unknown assassin silently closes in on his target.

The players are in position for the final deadly game...

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STEPHEN LEATHER WRITES

Sometimes it can be a struggle to write a thriller. The ideas don't come or it's hard to get the feel of the characters. The Double Tap came to me over the space of a few hours, on a flight from London to Boston. Everything - the characters, the plot, the ending, every twist and turn. When I got to Boston I started writing immediately, and it's almost identical to the vision I had on the plane. The only thing that has changed is the title. I wanted to call it The Judas Goat but my editor thought that most people wouldn't understand the significance so we decided on The Double Tap instead.

It's one of my favourite stories, fast-moving and tense, but I like the characters, too. It's also the third appearance of Mike 'Joker' Cramer, a character who appeared in The Chinaman and The Long Shot.

Some years after the book was published, a movie with the same title made an appearance, starring Stephen Rae as an assassin who kills with two shots. Nothing to do with my book, unfortunately, and I reckon it's a much weaker story than mine.

Two of my friends, both professional bodyguards and security experts, appear as characters in the book - Allan and Martin. Martin has never forgiven me for allowing him to be locked in a car boot. Both will be back in another book at some point. They're both great characters, in fiction and in real life.