A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer
I have read Jeffrey Archer in the past but this is the best I’ve come across so far.I haven’t read ‘Kane and Abel’ which is proclaimed to be his best novel but if you’re a reader who swears by crime-detective genre of fiction,you’re bound to love this one!
The plot begins with the protagonist Danny Cartwright,who works in a car garage,his fiancée Beth Wilson and her brother and Danny’s best-mate Bernie Wilson turning up at a wine bar,Dunlop Arms,to celebrate their engagement.They were yet to discover the surprises which the night had in store for them.
At the same bar,there were four friends-Spencer Craig,a barrister,Gerald Payne,the youngest partner in a real-estate firm,Lawrence Davenport,a popular TV actor and Toby Mortimer,an aristocrat afflicted with drug addiction;who had come to celebrate Gerald’s thirtieth birthday and had a little too much to drink.Under the influence of alcohol,they started making derogatory remarks about Beth which infuriated her brother,Bernie.Danny tried to restrain Bernie from causing any trouble but when they were finally confronted and attacked by Payne and Craig in the alley while they were on their way out of the bar through the back-door,there was very little Danny could do except return their favour on same terms.
As the fight continued,Danny and Bernie had an upper hand,courtesy their boxing skills from high school.But when Craig flushed out a knife that he picked at the bar,things went dirty.He stabbed Bernie in the chest and injured Danny with a stab to his leg.But when the police came on to the crime scene,they found Danny clutching onto the knife beside the corpse of his best mate,Bernie.
Danny,to his utter dismay,was convicted for a murder he didn’t commit and sentenced to 22 years in prison.Craig laid out a well-laid scheme of deception which ensured that Danny was found to be guilty of the crime during the trials.He was assisted in his trickery by the false witness statements provided by Larry and Payne.
Danny began to spend his days in Belmarsh prison.Quickly all his options of proving his innocence evaporated.But when everything seemed bleak,an opportunity arose with the death of his prison-mate Sir Nicholas Moncrieff who was so similar in appearance with Danny that many assumed them to be brothers.Assisted by Big Al,Danny took the identity of Sir Nicholas Moncrieff or Nick, who was about to be released in six weeks time.After his release,Danny settled the property dispute with Nick’s greedy uncle Sir Hugo Moncrieff who wanted to strip Nick of his inheritance.
The plot gets thicker and racy as Danny after becoming a multi-millionaire through inheritance,next turns his attention to the three antagonists-Craig,Payne and Larry.He devises plans for each of them and and sets about to destroy them.
But as he drew nearer to his objective,his cover was blown by Craig and Danny,Beth and Big Al were all sent back to prison.However,everything wasn’t over for them as yet,for Alex Redmayne,Danny’s counsel from the beginning,his father,Sir Matthew Redmayne,a retired judge and Sir Fraser Munro,who represented the Moncrieff family,joined forces in an encapsulating legal battle against the antagonists to prove Danny’s innocence.
The most notable thing in this novel is Jeffrey’s vivid description of the prison life and the legal battle that ensued towards the end.The characters of Sir Matthew,Sir Munro and Alex Redmayne evokes a sense od utmost delight and pleasure with their powerful oration and scintillating display of shrewdness of an old fox.
It can be safely concluded that it won’t be a mistake wrong if Jeffrey Archer is called the ‘British John Grisham’,a moniker that he most likely deserves.And yeah I’m eager to read more of him!
[box_light]Book: A PRISONER OF BIRTH
Author: Jeffrey Archer
ISBN-13: 9780330464062, 978-0330464062
Publisher: PAN MACMILLAN U.K
Number of Pages:616
Price: Rs.325 (approx.)[/box_light]