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A Prisoner of Birth


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About the Author

Jeffrey Archer was educated at Oxford University. He has served five years in Britain's House of Commons and fourteen years in the House of Lords. All of his novels and short story collections--including And Thereby Hangs a Tale, Kane and Abel, Paths of Glory and False Impression--have been international bestselling books. Archer is married with two sons and lives in London and Cambridge.


Colorful, best-selling novelist Archer has written a modern spin on Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo. Garage mechanic Danny Cartwright and his sweetheart Beth, joined by her brother, Bernie, celebrate their engagement at a posh West End night spot. Beth is insulted by several drunken toffs, and a fight ensues; Bernie is fatally stabbed, and Danny takes the fall because the toffs have fabricated a cover story. He is convicted and serves time in Belmarsh prison, where Archer himself served part of a sentence for perjury. Danny's cell mate is the aristocratic Sir Nicholas Moncrieff, who just happens to resemble Danny and teaches him to talk with a posh accent and comport himself in the style of an English gentleman. Danny manages to escape from Belmarsh and seeks revenge on his accusers in a manner that is somewhat reminiscent of the protagonists in Archer's early novel Kane and Abel. Noted actor Roger Allam brings professionalism to his narration, with accents developed where necessary but not always fully. The interview with Archer is an interesting finish to the book and showcases audio production in a way that a print copy cannot. Recommended for large public libraries with a high circulation of Archer's work. [Macmillan Audio also has two versions of A Prisoner of Birth available: 13 CDs. unabridged. 16 hrs. 2008. ISBN 978-1-4272-0283-3. $44.95; 5 CDs. abridged. 6 hrs. 2008. ISBN 978-1-4272-0305-2. $29.95; also available as downloadable audio from]--David Faucheux, Louisiana Audio Information & Reading Svc., Lafayette Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Though Archer's new novel is a porridge that mushes The Count of Monte Cristo together with The Prince and the Pauper, Roger Allam gives an award-worthy performance in this crisply paced production. Most challenging is that the main character thinks like East Ender Danny, but often speaks like the nobleman Nick. Allam slides gracefully between the two accents. He also performs the many voices of an unwieldy cast of lawyers, judges, Swiss bankers, guards, police officers, a bartender, a house cleaner and a soap star actor. Sometimes, Allam takes some shortcuts, such as giving all the judges sniffy voices, but he delights in individualizing the better drawn minor characters like Big Al, a former Scottish soldier, and Larry Hunsucker, a Texas oilman and philatelist. A bonus interview reveals little about Archer, except for his spending 300 hours on a draft. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 14). (Mar.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"A compelling read." --Newsday"Archer plots with skill, and keeps you turning the pages." --The Boston Globe"Thoroughly enjoyable." --Publishers Weekly"Dynamite...plot twists and a slam-bang finale." --The Washington Post

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