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Heaven: A Prison Diary Vol. III by Jeffrey Archer

Publishers: St. Martin’s Press, 2005  ISBN: 0312342179

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader             

Having read and enjoyed…. make that disturbingly enjoyed Hell: A Prison Diary: Volume I, its sequel Wayland: Purgatory- A Prison Diary II, I was eagerly and anxiously waiting for the copy of Heaven: A Prison Diary III to reach me.

And the wait was really worth it. Continuing the ‘action’ from where Purgatory left off, Heaven starts with Jeffrey Archer reaching the North Sea Camp to spent the remaining 1 year of his 4 year sentence. The scathing attack against the deplorable conditions in British prisons, the corruption, the underhand deals are brought to the full front in this latest and last installment of the A Prison Diary Trilogy. FF8282, as Archer is known in the prison circles still finds life unbearable in prison, though it’s a little better as compared to Belmarsh (Hell) and Wayland (Purgatory). Archer has, but, slowly accepted the reality of prison life, and he decides to do something about his life rather than spent time feeling sorry for himself. And the result is three hard-hitting Diaries and a novel, Sons of Fortune.

The Diary culminates with Archer leaving prison. He is of course afraid, and not sure how he will fit into the mainstream society or how people, including his relatives and friends will see him in future.

I enjoyed the narrative tremendously- and as Michael Crick, Jeffrey Archer’s unofficial biographer put it, Archer’s life is truly Stranger than Fiction. Fans of Archer works have something to enjoy; the author has promised a new short story collection Cat of Nine Tails and a screenplay, Mallory: Walking of the Map for 2005.

Love or hate Jeffrey Archer- the person, but, HEAVEN: A PRISON DIARY III is truly enjoyable… disturbingly enjoyable.

 

The Road to Esmeralda by Joy Nicholson

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press  ISBN:  0-312-26863-7

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

Nick and Sarah, a couple from Los Angeles, are taking an extended vacation in Mexico so that Nick can work on his novel.  Finding anti-U. S. sentiment high as their native country invades Iraq, Nick and Sarah go farther and farther south, until they arrive at a guesthouse in Esmeralda operated by a German couple.

In the lush jungle of Esmeralda, Nick and Sarah begin to confront their own demons, which reach far deeper than either originally imagined.  While Sarah spends an increasing amount of time with their host Karl Von Tollman, a jealous Nick comforts himself with liquor and the dubious company of Al, the guesthouse handyman, and makes little progress on his novel.  As troubled as Nick and Sarah are (singly and together), they only manage to compound their problems with the alliances they form in Esmeralda.

Dark and disturbing, The Road to Esmeralda weaves a tangled tale of deceit, greed, politics, substance abuse, and insanity.  Although author Joy Nicholson’s characters aren’t especially sympathetic, they still don’t deserve their unhappy fates.  While the book is beautifully written, it is far too depressing to be enjoyable.

 

 

The Mosaic of Shadows by Tom Harper

Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books ISBN:  0312338679

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

How would you find a killer or uncover a conspiracy against the throne in a time when the only law was a king and his might? Do you think you would recognize clues or know the right people to question? In a caste system society, would you know what questions you'd dare ask without risking imprisonment or death by torture?

Such is the dilemma facing Demetrios Askiates when he is summoned to the palace by the Chamberlain to the Emperor to undertake just such a task. It is a job he dare not refuse for far more than the safety of one man is at stake, the very existence of the city rests on that one man's shoulders.

Torn between doing his duty and protecting certain innocents caught in the web of conspiracy, Demetrios sets about asking questions of ordinary citizen and the nobility. He must find an elusive monk who seems to be the key to the plot. Can he count on any real help from the Emperor's guardsmen assigned to help him when the guards disagree with everything he does or says?

A tale of twisted motives, red herrings scattered across his path, questions without answers, the arrival of a foreign army demanding safe passage, travel in unsafe areas of the city, worry for his daughters' safety--all are things preying on his mind. Can he save his king?

Step back in time and follow Demetrios as he goes about his king's business, trying to unmask a killer and stop a conspiracy. Share the privation of a city under seige as winter sets in.  This is a tale to keep you reading, written by talented Tom Harper who has a deft touch in bringing together a cast of lifelike characters, a tautly constructed plot set in a city that is so well described, you will think you've actually been there when you finish the story.  Highly recommended for any mystery fan.

Enjoy.  I sure did.