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09 December 2014

Jeffrey Archer: Prisoner of Birth

A clever tale by a master storyteller
This was another revisit to a book I had read a while ago prompted by an Amazon deal for a Kindle copy for pocket change. Once again I enjoyed revisiting a book I had enjoyed before and surprisingly there were only a few parts that I really remember.

There are several parts to a pretty complex plot. At the beginning East-Ender Danny Cartwright proposes to his pregnant girlfriend, Beth Wilson and then goes out with Bernie, Beth's brother and Danny's best mate, to a pub to celebrate. There are four drunken men in the pub and one of them makes obscene suggestions to Beth and then picks a fight with Danny and Bernie. The outcome of the brawl is that Danny is stabbed in the leg by the leader of their opponents who then stabs Bernie fatally.

The twist in the tale is that the leader of the pack, who call themselves "the Musketeers", is an eminent and very clever lawyer who concocts a bogus story that Danny killed his best friend. Danny is arrested for murder and in court the Musketeers stick by their story and Danny is given a life sentence.

Archer then brings his own prison experience into play when he describes prison conditions and the developing personal relationship with his cellmates, especially with Nick Moncrieff, an intelligent and cultured heir to a knighthood who looks uncannily similar to Bernie.. Nick helps Bernie to with his education and social skills and they become inseparable. This sets the scene for Danny’s determination to seek revenge on each of the Musketeers.

It is a very entertaining story as Danny plots his revenge and as uses his new social and business skills to  track down each Musketeer and establish a new life. Jeffrey Archer's books can never be called literary fiction but there are few authors of this genre who can beat him as a master storyteller of complex and entertaining plots.

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