Rated Reads

Heaven: A Prison Diary, Volume 3

by Jeffrey Archer

Rated: High

In this third volume of his diary of his imprisonment, a fair amount of legal wrangling results in Lord Jeffrey Archer finally being granted D-category status, resulting in his transfer to North Sea Camp, an open prison in the northeast of England, to finish out his four-year sentence for perjury. He arrives after a total of 90 days spent in two other facilities.

North Sea Camp is designed as a prison that aids inmates in learning to rejoin general society. As long as they keep their noses clean, they are allowed to leave the premises for personal visits, community service, and real jobs. The officers make sincere efforts to help these men re-learn how to function as normal people. All prisoners are expected to have some sort of regular occupation, either within the prison itself, on a local farm, or in one of the surrounding towns. There is also rather a lot of inmate turnover, so our diarist does not have the opportunity to really get to know many fellow incarcerates.

The author continues his observation and detailing of the drug culture that is a huge problem in the English penal system. The methods that prisoners use to obtain drugs and then avoid detection are again clearly outlined, and Archer makes a concerted effort to get involved in drug education as part of his community service activities.

Although we are still not given a clear explanation of Lord Archer’s trial and conviction, his appeal process is heating up. A personal friend has mentioned that he overheard the judge in Archer’s case discussing his disdain for Archer in a social setting. The legal team is hot on the trail of this man, as it may result in an immediate release for Archer. His frustration at the time involved in trying to make this happen is evident through all the writing.

There is a great deal more personal insight and introspection in this volume as well. As he nears his six-month mark, Archer becomes quite philosophical about punishment in general, and the British system in particular. A lot of his thoughts stem from the drug issues, but they are not limited to that. He also comments on career criminals, identity theft, crimes of passion, etc. He has had a lot of time and opportunity to ponder these matters, and his opinions are well worth reading.

An unexpected twist happens near the end of the diary that makes reading all of these volumes worth the time, if one can tolerate the language. We also learn about the genesis for his fictionalized biography of George Mallory, Paths of Glory.

This is Volume Three in a three-part series.

Rated: High. The number of f-words continues to drop (compared to the first two volumes), but 14 is still pretty high. Fortunately, the usage of other profane terms has decreased to just under a dozen. Once again, drug usage and descriptions of crimes against persons can be off-putting for some readers. There is also a brief description of homosexual activity, without graphic detail.

— Reviewed by Craig Smith

Craig Smith is chief medical officer of Tacoma Cat Hospital. In addition to providing book reviews on Rated Reads, he podcasts about feline health issues through iTunes and www.tacomacat.com.

One Response to Heaven: A Prison Diary, Volume 3

  1. […] Addendum: Lord Archer writes about why he wrote this book in Heaven: A Prison Diary, Volume 3. […]

  • Heaven: A Prison Diary, Volume 3
  • by Jeffrey Archer
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Reviewer: