Prisoner by Ross Greenwood

4 Stars from me

I was excited to read this book, I don’t know why but I have found I really enjoy prison books and found Prisoner to be fascinating, disturbing and uplifting in equal measure.

Main character, prison officer Jim Dalton, is a hugely believable character. He felt really quite real to me, which I guess is in part owing to the author’s own experiences of working in a prison.

I can’t imagine doing a job like that, I know I would be terrified! I also can’t imagine being a prisoner, again I would simply be terrified. There have been so many films and books that detail how unsafe prisoners are and – although I hope the reality is different – I guess there must be an element of truth.

I couldn’t help but feel incredibly disappointed by Jim at some points. For me this is only possible because he seemed so real and I therefore had an expectation of a standard of behaviour from him. Superb writing from Ross Greenwood made this possible.

In fact all of the characters, from Jim himself, to his wife, the other prison guards and also the prisoners themselves, all felt tangibly real… The vulnerability of a cross section of society was humbling and the ease of which some people found themselves in prison – mostly it seemed this was virtually predetermined by their childhood family circumstances.

I also found it fascinating how different the two sides (male/female) of the prison were and I wonder how typical this is across all prisons. I wonder if having solely male/female staff on the relevant sides would make a difference.

Overall I felt this was a hugely enjoyable book and also one that made me think. The sort of book that leaves you wondering what happens next for some of the key characters.

Blurb: Behind bars, the rules are different…

Prison Officer Jim Dalton is used to walking the landings on the male side of HMP Peterborough. It’s a dangerous place, fuelled by testosterone-driven violence, but he’s done the job for a long time. He understands the unwritten rules, and he has the prisoners’ respect. 

When a relative is sent to the jail, Dalton is transferred to the female side of the prison. His next shift is so easy, he can’t believe that the officers over there get paid the same wages. He sleeps well for the first time in years.

But when he is assigned to the young offenders’ wing, dealing with female prisoners no longer seems so simple.  As every day passes, and he gets to know the women better, he is slowly drawn in to new temptations, new traps and a new nightmare. One which could destroy everything.


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