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International bestseller and master storyteller Jeffrey Archer is at the very top of his game in a story of fate and fortune, redemption and revenge.
If Danny Cartwright had proposed to Beth Wilson the day before, or the day after, he would not have been arrested and charged with the murder of his best friend. But when the four prosecution witnesses are a barrister, a ...
International bestseller and master storyteller Jeffrey Archer is at the very top of his game in a story of fate and fortune, redemption and revenge.
If Danny Cartwright had proposed to Beth Wilson the day before, or the day after, he would not have been arrested and charged with the murder of his best friend. But when the four prosecution witnesses are a barrister, a popular actor, an aristocrat, and the youngest partner in an established firm’s history, who is going to believe your side of the story?
Danny is sentenced to twenty-two years and sent to Belmarsh prison, the highest-security jail in the land, from where no inmate has ever escaped.
However, Spencer Craig, Lawrence Davenport, Gerald Payne, and Toby Mortimer all underestimate Danny’s determination to seek revenge, and Beth’s relentless quest to pursue justice, which ends up with all four fighting for their lives,
Thus begins Jeffrey Archer’s most powerful novel since Kane and Abel, with a cast of characters that will remain with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
And if that is not enough, prepare for an ending that will shock even the most ardent of Archer’s fans.
Though Archer's new novel is a porridge that mushes The Count of Monte Cristo together with The Prince and the Pauper, Roger Allam gives an award-worthy performance in this crisply paced production. Most challenging is that the main character thinks like East Ender Danny, but often speaks like the nobleman Nick. Allam slides gracefully between the two accents. He also performs the many voices of an unwieldy cast of lawyers, judges, Swiss bankers, guards, police officers, a bartender, a house cleaner and a soap star actor. Sometimes, Allam takes some shortcuts, such as giving all the judges sniffy voices, but he delights in individualizing the better drawn minor characters like Big Al, a former Scottish soldier, and Larry Hunsucker, a Texas oilman and philatelist. A bonus interview reveals little about Archer, except for his spending 300 hours on a draft. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 14). (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Colorful, bestselling novelist Archer has written a modern spin on Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo. Garage mechanic Danny Cartwright and his sweetheart Beth, joined by her brother, Bernie, celebrate their engagement at a posh West End night spot. Beth is insulted by several drunken toffs, and a fight ensues; Bernie is fatally stabbed, and Danny takes the fall because the toffs have fabricated a cover story. He is convicted and serves time in Belmarsh prison, where Archer himself served part of a sentence for perjury. Danny's cell mate is the aristocratic Sir Nicholas Moncrieff, who just happens to resemble Danny and teaches him to talk with a posh accent and comport himself in the style of an English gentleman. Danny manages to escape from Belmarsh and seeks revenge on his accusers in a manner that is somewhat reminiscent of the protagonists in Archer's early novel Kane and Abel. Noted actor Roger Allam brings professionalism to his narration, with accents developed where necessary but not always fully. The interview with Archer is an interesting finish to the book and showcases audio production in a way that a print copy cannot. Recommended for large public libraries with a high circulation of Archer's work. [Macmillan Audio also has two versions of A Prisoner of Birth available: 13 CDs. unabridged. 16½ hrs. 2008. ISBN 9781427202833, 9781427203052]
“Archer plots with skill, and keeps you turning the pages.” —The Boston Globe
“Thoroughly enjoyable.”—Publishers Weekly
“Dynamite…plot twists and a slam-bang finale.”—The Washington Post
“Yes,” said Beth.
She tried to look surprised, but wasn’t all that convincing as she had already decided that they were going to be married when they were at secondary school. However, she was amazed when Danny fell on one knee in the middle of the crowded restaurant.
“Yes,” Beth repeated, hoping he’d stand up before everyone in the room stopped eating and turned to stare at them. But he didn’t budge. Danny remained on one knee, and like a conjurer, produced a tiny box from nowhere. He opened it to reveal a simple gold band boasting a single diamond that was far larger than Beth had expected—although her brother had already told her that Danny had spent two months’ wages on the ring.
When Danny finally got off his knee, he took her by surprise again. He immediately began to tap a number on his mobile. Beth knew only too well who would be on the other end of the line.
“She said yes!” Danny announced triumphantly. Beth smiled as she held the diamond under the light and took a closer look. “Why don’t you join us?” Danny added before she could stop him. “Great, let’s meet at that wine bar off the Fulham Road—the one we went to after the Chelsea game last year. See you there, mate.”
Beth didn’t protest; after all, Bernie was not only her brother, but Danny’s oldest friend, and he’d probably already asked him to be his best man.
Danny turned off his phone and asked a passing waiter for the bill. The maître d’ bustled across.
“It’s on the house,” he said, giving them a warm smile.
It was to be a night of surprises.
When Beth and Danny strolled into the Dunlop Arms, they found Bernie seated at a corner table with a bottle of champagne and three glasses by his side.
“Fantastic news,” he said even before they had sat down.
“Thanks, mate,” said Danny, shaking hands with his friend.
“I’ve already phoned Mum and Dad,” said Bernie as he popped the cork and filled the three champagne glasses. “They didn’t seem all that surprised, but then it was the worst-kept secret in Bow.”
“Don’t tell me they’ll be joining us as well,” said Beth.
“Not a chance,” said Bernie raising his glass. “You’ve only got me this time. To long life and West Ham winning the cup.”
“Well, at least one of those is possible,” said Danny.
“I think you’d marry West Ham if you could,” said Beth, smiling at her brother.
“Could do worse,” said Bernie.
Danny laughed. “I’ll be married to both for the rest of my life.”
“Except on Saturday afternoons,” Bernie reminded him.
“And you might even have to sacrifice a few of those once you take over from Dad,” said Beth.
Danny frowned. He had been to see Beth’s father during his lunch break and had asked for permission to marry his daughter—some traditions die hard in the East End. Mr. Wilson couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about Danny becoming his son-in-law, but went on to tell him that he had changed his mind about something Danny thought they’d already agreed on.
“And if you think I’m gonna call you guv when you take over from my old man,” said Bernie, breaking into his thoughts, “you can forget it.” Danny didn’t comment.
“Is that who I think it is?” said Beth.
Danny took a closer look at the four men standing by the bar. “It certainly looks like ’im.”
“Looks like who?” asked Bernie.
“That actor what plays Dr. Beresford in The Prescription.”
“Lawrence Davenport,” whispered Beth.
“I could always go and ask for his autograph,” said Bernie.
“Certainly not,” said Beth. “Although Mum never misses an episode.”
“I think you fancy him,” said Bernie as he topped up their glasses.
“No, I don’t,” said Beth a little too loudly, causing one of the men at the bar to turn around. “And in any case,” she added smiling at her fiancé, “Danny’s far better looking than Lawrence Davenport.”
“Dream on,” said Bernie. “Just because Danny boy’s shaved and washed his hair for a change, don’t think he’s gonna make a habit of it, sis. No chance. Just remember that your future ’usband works in the East End, not the City.”
“Danny could be anything he wanted to be,” said Beth, taking his hand.
“What’ve you got in mind, sis? Tycoon or tosser?” said Bernie, thumping Danny on the arm.
“Danny’s got plans for the garage that will make you—”
“Shh,” said Danny, as he refilled his friend’s glass.
“He’d better have, ’cause gettin’ spliced don’t come cheap,” said Bernie. “To start with, where you goin’ to live?”
“There’s a basement flat just round the corner that’s up for sale,” said Danny.
“But have you got enough readies?” demanded Bernie. “’Cause basement flats don’t come cheap, even in the East End.”
“We’ve saved enough between us to put down a deposit,” said Beth, “and when Danny takes over from Dad—”
“Let’s drink to that,” said Bernie, only to find that the bottle was empty. “I’d better order another.”
“No,” said Beth firmly. “I’ve got to be on time for work tomorrow morning, even if you haven’t.”
“To hell with that,” said Bernie. “It’s not every day that my little sister gets engaged to my best mate. Another bottle!” he shouted.
The barman smiled as he removed a second bottle of champagne from the fridge below the counter. One of the men standing at the bar checked the label. “Pol Roger,” he said, before adding in a voice that carried: “Wasted on them.”
Bernie jumped up from his place, but Danny immediately pulled him back down.
“Ignore them,” he said, “they’re not worth the space.”
The barman walked quickly across to their table. “Don’t let’s be havin’ any trouble, lads,” he said as he removed the cork. “One of them’s celebratin’ his birthday, and frankly they’ve had a bit too much to drink.”
Beth took a closer look at the four men while the barman refilled their glasses. One of them was staring at her. He winked, opened his mouth and ran his tongue around his lips. Beth quickly turned back, relieved to find that Danny and her brother hadn’t noticed.
“So where you two goin’ on honeymoon?”
“Saint Tropez,” said Danny.
“That’ll set you back a bob or two.”
“And you’re not coming along this time,” said Beth.
“The slut’s quite presentable until she opens her mouth,” said a voice from the bar.
Bernie leaped to his feet again, to find two of them staring defiantly at him.
“They’re drunk,” said Beth. “Just ignore them.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” said the other man. “There are times when I quite like a slut’s mouth to be open.”
Bernie grabbed the empty bottle, and it took all of Danny’s strength to hold him down.
“I want to leave,” said Beth firmly. “I don’t need a bunch of public-school snobs ruining my engagement party.”
Danny immediately jumped up, but Bernie just sat there, drinking his champagne. “Come on, Bernie, let’s get out of here before we do somethin’ we regret,” said Danny. Bernie reluctantly stood up and followed his friend, but he never once took his eyes off the four men at the bar. Beth was pleased to see that they had turned their backs on them, and appeared to be deep in conversation.
But the moment Danny opened the back door, one of them swung around. “Leaving, are we?” he said. He took out his wallet and added, “When you’ve finished with her, my friends and I have just enough left over for a gang bang.”
“You’re full of shit,” said Bernie.
“Then why don’t we go outside and sort it out?”
“Be my guest, Dickhead,” said Bernie as Danny shoved him through the door and out into the alley before he had the chance to say anything else. Beth slammed the door behind them and began walking down the alley. Danny gripped Bernie by the elbow, but they had only gone a couple of paces before he shook him off. “Let’s go back and sort them.”
“Not tonight,” said Danny, not letting go of Bernie’s arm as he continued to lead his friend on down the alley.
When Beth reached the main road she saw the man Bernie described as Dickhead standing there, one hand behind his back. He leered at her and began licking his lips again, just as his friend came rushing around the corner, slightly out of breath. Beth turned to see her brother, legs apart, standing his ground. He was smiling.
“Let’s go back inside,” Beth shouted at Danny, only to see that the other two men from the bar were now standing by the door, blocking the path.
“Fuck ’em,” said Bernie. “It’s time to teach the bastards a lesson.”
“No, no,” pleaded Beth as one of the men came charging up the alley toward them.
“You take Dickhead,” said Bernie, “and I’ll deal with the other three.”
Beth looked on in horror as Dickhead threw a punch that caught Danny on the side of the chin and sent him reeling back. He recovered in time to block the next punch, feint and then land one that took Dickhead by surprise. He fell on one knee, but was quickly back on his feet before taking another swing at Danny.
As the other two men standing by the back door didn’t seem to want to join in, Beth assumed the fight would be over fairly quickly. She could only watch as her brother landed an uppercut on the other man, the force of which almost knocked him out. As Bernie waited for him to get back on his feet, he shouted to Beth, “Do us a favor, sis, grab a cab. This ain’t gonna last much longer, and then we need to be out of ’ere.”
Beth turned her attention to Danny to make such he was getting the better of Dickhead. Dickhead was lying spread-eagled on the ground with Danny on top of him, clearly in control. She gave them both one last look before reluctantly obeying her brother. Beth ran off down the alley and once she reached the main road, began searching for a taxi. She only had to wait a couple of minutes before she spotted a familiar yellow FOR HIRE sign.
Beth flagged down the cabbie as the man Bernie had felled staggered past her and disappeared into the night.
“Where to, luv?” asked the cabbie.
“Bacon Road, Bow,” said Beth. “And two of my friends will be along in a moment,” she added as she opened the back door.
The cabbie glanced over her shoulder and down the alley. “I don’t think it’s a taxi they’ll be needing, luv,” he said. “If they were my friends, I’d be phoning for an ambulance.”
Copyright © 2008 by Jeffrey Archer. All rights reserved.
Posted December 9, 2008
Danny Cartwright proposes to his beloved Beth Wilson who accepts. The pair and her brother Bernie, who is also his best friend, celebrate. Four drunks (Spencer Craig, Lawrence Davenport, Gerald Payne, and Toby Mortimer), who call themselves the Musketeers insult the trio. A fight occurs and one of the quartet stabs Bernie killing him. The four Musketeers swear they witnessed Danny kill the man though he claims otherwise. Since they are elite Cambridge University graduates and successful professionals who speak and dress like aristocratic gentlemen while he is an illiterate slum scum, he is charged with the homicide as ¿clothing¿ makes the man. His attorney the best one he can obtain with little money is slaughtered by the prosecutor. Danny is convicted to serve twenty-two years at maximum-security Belmarsh Prison. --- In prison Danny shares a cell with Nicholas Moncrieff, who teaches him to read Dumas. When someone kills Moncrieff, Danny pretends to be Nicholas and escapes his incarceration. His goals are to destroy the Musketeers and prove his innocence. --- The fun in this crime thriller is finding the numerous references to The Count of Monte Cristo as Jeffrey Archer pays homage to Alexander Dumas. The story line is fast-paced from the moment of the first confrontation and never slows down as Danny works his revenge. Although the key players including the hero are never fully developed beyond their link to the original novel, readers will enjoy this entertaining modernization of the Dumas classic. --- Harriet Klausner
11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 3, 2009
This is the first book I ever read by Jeffrey Archer and it was great. A real page turner and hard to put down. I would highly recommend reading this. I plan on reading all his books.
9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 23, 2008
Jeffrey Archer's latest novel is essentially a modern remake of Alexandre Dumas' The Count Of Monte Cristo. While the latter's tale was set in 18th-century France at the time when a certain Napoleon Bonaparte was in exile, Prisoner Of Birth takes place in modernday London. Apart from the difference of some 200 years, the plots of the two novels barely differ. In this book, a young man by the name of Danny Cartwright, who was about to marry his childhood sweetheart, suddenly finds himself accused of a crime he did not commit. He is then put behind bars where he receives some education from a cellmate. Danny finds a way to escape. He then amasses a huge fortune, and a title to boot, and plots revenge against those who brought about his earlier downfall. The fast-moving plot and simple language make the novel a definite pageturner. But despite Archer's attempts to adapt his story to modern times, some parts of the plot might seem rather far-etched and unbelievable, especially the prison escape. Archer manages to inject some originality only towards the later part of the story, choosing to digress from Dumas' tragic end for the Count of Monte Cristo. Those who have not read the original classic may appreciate this. But fans of the original may find that this copycat modern version is just not up to par.
7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 25, 2009
Despite of the fact that you have the idea that how it is going to end, this is a real page turner....I just could not put it down.....i loved it, and one of those books which i never wanted to end...
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Posted April 20, 2008
We've been awaiting Archer's true return for a long, long time! Grisham creates characters which lock you in within the first 10 pages, but Archer did it way before Grisham. Great characterization and a good storyline are the makings of a truly good read. You won't be able to put this work down. Read and enjoy and then pass it along to a friend.
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Posted April 25, 2008
Not Since Cane and Able have I read such a style. If you enjoyed Cane and Able you must read A Prisoner of Birth. With the story line much similar to that of The Count of Monte Cristo with the switching of identity and such, you find yourself looking forward to Danny's just revenge. This is a fast page turner.
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Posted September 26, 2011
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This is a very enjoyable book. Nicely drawn characters, good plot, interesting twists, but the audio version read by Roger Allam elevates it to another level. As many have said before Roger Allam could read the phone book and keep you captivated. He has enormous talent for not only accents and dialects, but he acts the parts, he doesn't just read them. Given that he is a great actor that comes as no surprise, but it makes listening to the book all the more enjoyable for the audience. He clearly distinguishes between each character and gives them life.
I would also recommend Jeffrey Archer's Only Time Will Tell (the first of the Clifton Chronicles) which is a great story . . . but get the audio version read by Roger Allam!
Posted October 1, 2013
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Posted November 20, 2012
Jeffrey Archer knows so well how to engage the reader. It's almost as if you personally know the characters. From beginning to end, I couldn't wait to get back to a private place to finish this book. Great read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2012
The only thing i didnt like about was that rhe favt the author didnt use very descriptive words like for instance instead of saying i had a fine day i either had an awesome day or a horrible day because ok says nothing
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Posted February 1, 2012
I had read the overview of this book online several times and put off purchasing. Glad I finally bought it on Nook! A truly original and engrossing tale.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 8, 2011
I stopped reading Jeffery Archer many years ago on principle, but having run out of my favourite authors recently I went back to him and realised what I have been missing. A prisoner of birth was excellent like always you never know the plot and so you keep on reading until the book is finished.
without his Bellmarsh experience I am sure it would not have been as good. Looking forward to his next book.
Posted December 2, 2011
Posted December 3, 2012