Prisoner of Birth by Jeffery Archer is quite an original novel, but read on to decide whether it's original enough for you to want to bother with yourself. It retails at quite a reasonable £3.81, though I personally only paid around £2 for my hardcover copy from Bananas.co.uk just before Christmas. Hardcover books are often available on discount book sites during the year or two following their initial release, and this isn't often a reflection of how good they'll be - just that their initial promotional period is over.
Prisoner of Birth is all about a man who is wrongly convincted of murder, under really quite fantastical circumstances. We know that Danny Cartwright is innocent from the very beginning of the book, as we get to read about the crime he's accused of committing in the opening chapter. The entire duration of the book is then dedicated to learning all about how Danny tries to clear his name.
There are very few sub-plots in this book, just a handful of major twists that do add a certain amount of interest initially. But I found that they quickly wore thin, and that I struggled to stay interested after the initial surprises at those twists wore off. I found myself repeatedly putting this book down, and yet I did still want to finish it to find out whether or not the elaborate plot to clear Danny's name would result in success.
The way this book is written is really a little on the amateurish side of writing. I've read better by James Patterson in his churning days to be honest, and that's a pretty low standard to beat! It's a real shame because the actual idea is very original and clever, but it's been written in a boring way. The central plot was drawn out for considerably longer than was necessary, and the way in which the book was written in the final chapters was fankly confusing. I think that the writer thought he was being mysterious and clever, but I just found myself a bit lost.
As an ex-con, the author manages to make a pretty realistic book here, as he does demonstrate an understanding of life on the inside. That said, he makes prison sound a bit too much like a casual, laid back and easy affair in places. That probably is the case in some of our modern prisons, but when I'm reading a novel that is marketed as being a crime thriller, that isn't what I want to read about! I want suspense, action and violence - not friendly, discrete screws and best pals for cell mates.
I'd recommend reading this book if you get it cheaply, have nothing better to read and fancy skim-reading a crime novel (it really is a novel rather than a thriller). But I'll never want to re-read this in the future, and I wouldn't go around recommending it to my friends either.
The Story ***************
A prisoner of birth tells the story of Danny a mechanic who is accused and convicted of murdering his best friend, who also happens to be his fiancees brother. The only problem is that he did not do it, but all the witnesses said he did. Danny is sentenced to 22 years and sent to Belmarsh prison, lucky for Danny he finds himself under the wing of an ex army officer who has a remarkable affect on Danny's future.
To cut a long story short Danny is wrongly released early in place of the ex army officer. I will not tell you how that happens as it would spoil the story for you. Danny is now free to not only plot his revenge, but to also to have the proper murderer brought to justice.
My Views **************
Once again Jeffrey Archer has penned an intriguing story that is both clever and ensnaring. The clever use of plots and sub plots will keep you reading right to the end. You have to wonder whilst reading this book if Jeffery Archer has called upon his own experiences in prison to write this story. Jeffery Archer is a master story teller and this is no exception. The main character, Danny is a likable person and you feel for him when he truly is probably the only person in the jail that is innocent. The twists and turns in the story will keep you up late reading, not only that but most of them are believable. every now and again you read about people being released after spending many years in jail and it is then proved they were innocent, so this story is very credible. I for one think it is probably the best book by Archer since he wrote Kane and Able.
Danny Cartwright and Spencer Craig were born on different sides of the track. Danny, an East End Cockney, leaves Clement Attlee Comprehensive School at the age of 15 to take up a job at a local garage. He falls in love with Beth, the boss' daughter, and asks her to marry him. Spencer Craig resides in the West End. A graduate of an English public school and Cambridge University. After leaving university he becomes a criminal barrister and is soon tipped to be the youngest Queen's Counsel of his generation. Danny and Beth travel up to the West End to celebrate their engagement. They end the evening in a wine bar where Spencer Craig is also celebrating - his 30th birthday, along with a select group of university chums. Their lives will never be the same again. For, an hour later, one of them is arrested for murder, while the other ends up as the Prosecution's chief witness in an Old Bailey trial.