I am happy to admit, I was wrong! ‘A Prisoner of Birth‘ is not perhaps Jeffrey Archer’s best, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it not very far behind his best. Coming on the heels of the eminently disappointing ‘False Impression‘, it is an unexpected treat for fans like me. The Mirror’s review summed it up best, I thought – If this is what being locked up in prison does to an author, we better lock up the rest of them!
Jeffrey Archer returns to familiar grounds with this grand revenge saga coupled with his favorite rags-to-riches story. A recurring thought in my mind while I was reading was, Salim-Javed would have spun a fine Amitabh movie from this familiar (to Hindi movie fans) redemption drama!
Danny Cartwright, a bright but unpolished East Ender falls on the wrong end of the law thanks to a combination of bad luck and a quartet of particularly unscrupulous West Enders. He is innocent, but all appearances are stacked against him in favour of the not so innocent. Just when it seems all hope is lost, Danny is thrust on to a journey to prove his innocence and make himself a fantastic fortune in the bargain, setting the stage for an exciting and well-crafted novel, in my opinion.
The pace is not comparable to say a ‘Da Vinci Code‘, but Archer regulars will find this an exciting read in itself. My favorite parts of the book were the courtroom scenes towards the end where… No, let me not say more lest I give the plot away. I’ll urge you to enjoy the book and find out for yourself instead.
A word of caution before I end. If you were never an Archer fan and find his work verbose and boring, you will most likely not enjoy this book either. ‘A Prisoner of Birth’ is a fine tale, but it is an old-fashioned one told in the best of the Jeffrey Archer tradition. You have been warned!