Rated Reads

Purgatory: A Prison Diary, Volume 2

by Jeffrey Archer

Rated: High

After his initial three weeks in the high-security Belmarsh prison, Lord Jeffrey Archer is transferred to HMP Wayland, a medium-security facility, where he continues his four-year sentence for perjury. This volume of his diary encompasses just over two months.

The longer time spent here affords Archer the opportunity to develop more meaningful relationships with a select few fellow inmates. We get to know Jimmy, Sergio, Darren, and a few others very well. Their personalities, histories, and issues with the legal system are all detailed in the daily diary entries. We still read no specific details about Archer’s own case, except a few more hints that the judge may have been biased against him. His family and legal counsel continue trying to appeal his conviction all throughout this volume.

We also learn a vast amount of information (with great detail) about drug addiction in the British penal system. This is a thread that the author passionately explores, due to his own vehement distaste for all drug-related activities. Although some of the methods he learns about prison smuggling seem obvious, many others are truly original.

I found the stories of fellow inmates to be absolutely fascinating, especially the tales of the nonviolent criminals or those caught up in so-called “crimes of passion.” Archer is not shy about proffering his own opinion of many of the sentences passed on his comrades, especially compared to his own sentence. I was also drawn to a number of sub-plots that he keeps going about gaining access to various foodstuffs and writing needs during his stay in this facility. He also develops a relationship with a Colombian inmate in an attempt to obtain some original artwork.

As time passes, the author is clearly settling into his new lifestyle. There are fewer complaints about the food, and since his good behavior rewards him with a variety of privileges, his writing becomes much less harsh and self-serving. He is less snobby as well in this volume, which makes for a far more pleasant reading experience, especially considering the situation.

This is Volume Two in a three-part series that starts with A Prison Diary.

Rated: High. Although less usage than in Volume I, there are still nearly 20 instances of the f-word, and nearly 30 occurrences of other mild to medium strong terms. Details of drug usage also may be a turn-off for some readers, although the author makes a concerted effort to keep the gory details to a minimum. A variety of descriptions of what the English term ABH and GBH (Actual & Grievous Bodily Harm) are scattered throughout the text, each with an appropriate warning for sensitive readers.

— 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.

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  • Purgatory: A Prison Diary, Volume 2
  • by Jeffrey Archer
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Reviewer: