A Prisoner of Birth
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?If Danny Cartwright had proposed to Beth Wilson on any other day, he would not have been arrested and charged with the murder of his best friend. But when the prosecution witnesses happen to be a group of four upper-crust college friends¡ªa barrister, a popular actor, an aristocrat, and the youngest partner in an established firm¡¯s history¡ªwho is going to believe Danny¡¯s side of the story?

Danny is sentenced to twenty-two years and sent to Belmarsh prison, the highest-security jail in the land, from where no inmate has ever escaped. But Spencer Craig, Lawrence Davenport, Gerald Payne, and Toby Mortimer all underestimate Danny¡¯s determination to seek revenge¡ªand the extent to which his fianc¨¦e Beth will go in pursuit of justice.

Customer Reviews:

  • Another Winner for Jeffrey Archer
    Archer has long been a favorite of mine, but when my husband was still reading at 2:30 in the morning, I knew Prisoner of Birth should receive 5 stars! Some twists were expected; others surprised us pleasantly. Even when an event was anticipated, the storyline to achieve that event was a delight. We read a lot and have become more critical all the time, but Jeffery Archer certainly delivered with this novel. While my husband read the book, I instead listened to the unabridged audiobook where Roger Allam's reading was superb and added much to my enjoyment....more info
  • A Confession...
    Let's start with a quick confession: I read this novel without the slightest idea that it's a modern-day retelling of the "Count of Monte Cristo." More importantly, I've never read "The Count" nor seen it performed on the stage. In fact, I don't even know the basic storyline. Shame on me.

    That said, I must say that I enjoyed "A Prisoner of Birth" and would recommend it to others -- if only for the wonderful British accents and highly inventive plot. Pick it up for your next vacation or plane trip.

    THE STORY UNFOLDS: Our hero, Danny Cartwright, is a kind-hearted but illiterate East End mechanic when his best friend (and future brother-in-law) Bernie is suddenly murdered outside a pub. Danny is falsely accused by three aristocratic nasties and he ends up in Belmarsh Prison. By a simple twist of fate, Danny is incarcerated with a disgraced Scottish army officer named Nick Moncrieff and his big lunk of an Army friend. Nick encourages Danny to study and refine his manners. Following the unfortunate demise of Sir Nicholas, Danny assumes Nick's identity - just as he's about to be paroled.

    Now free from prison, Danny proceeds to battle Nick's corrupt uncle Hugo Moncrieff for his grandfather's enormous fortune and world-class stamp collection. Meanwhile, he's also plotting revenge against his three rich accusers. Enter a host of lesser players, including various Swiss bankers, policemen, actors and lawyers. Stir this mix and you end up with an highly entertaining -- and very unpredictable -- denouement.

    Fine stuff indeed. Thank you, Jeffrey Archer. Now I'll have to read the "Count of Monte Cristo" so I won't have to hang my head in shame for the rest of eternity....more info
  • rickweisheimer
    I've read a lot of Jeffrey Archer books and having just finished A Prisoner of Birth, I think it's his best. There is a fascinating main plot along with many secondary ones to keep you guessing and surprised to the final page. Archer has to be among the very best fiction writers. Buy this book, you won't be disappointed. Be parepared to lose sleep because once you've started it, you won't be able to put it down. ...more info
  • Loved the Count of Monte Cristo!
    This was a great story. Loved it! It was a modern day take-off of the Count of Monte Cristo, which is one of my favorite books. I finished it last night around 4:00. It was hard to put down. ...more info
  • Archer owes me $8.00
    If I ever meet Jaffrey Archer I am going to demand he pay me back for this awful book that he wrote. Dumas must be rolling in his grave having his masterpiece Count of Monte Cristo compared to this hack attempt of reiventing a classic tale. I guess the best thing I could say is that it is a sort of "Dumas for Dummies" but do yourself a favor and skip this mess and read the original. Simply put, Archer wrote a predictable and forgettable melodrama of revenge served luke warm and stale at best....more info
  • A prisoner of Birth
    I am a great Archer fan his well,sculpted plots maintain the suspense right through the stories. I must confess that I am only part way through reading this BUT it shows that the master has not lost his touch. I am thoroughly enjoying it so far....more info
  • A Prisoner of Birth
    I have read many of Jeffrey Archer's books and have enjoyed them all. I never thought he would be able to write something as wonderful as "Cane and Able" but he has. "A Prisoner of Birth" is by far his best novel and one of the best books I have read in a very long time. It was a very hard book to put down. It keeps your attention until the very end and at the end you are not disappointed....more info
  • Oh what a tangled web we weave...
    Two social groups come together in a pub. Danny Cartwright is out celebrating his engagement to Beth. Four nobs are out celebrating one of their birthdays. When one of the nobs insults Beth, the matter gets taken outside into the alley. Beth's brother is killed and the nobs frame Danny for the murder. Not everyone believes that he is guilty. Some reviewers have compared this to the Count of Monte Cristo (a wrongfully convicted man seeking revenge). In the plot, Danny is reading that novel in the prison library.

    One gets a good look at the British legal system, as well as the class system. Danny is a garage mechanic from London's East End who somehow got through school without learning to read and write (he is exceptionally smart, and has an amazing somewhat photographic memory). He is well liked, and has his allies.

    Locked away in prison, he has nothing else to do with his time, and two years of concentrated study can bring about major changes. Call it a finishing school.

    The villains do not have the solidarity they might desire (there are always weak reeds) and tend to get themselves in deeper over time. There is some very interesting legal maneuvering. There is also some information about Swiss banking.

    It might be noted that the author spent two years in a prison (as well as time in the House of Commons and House of Lords). He had the unique opportunity to research material for the novel first hand. It might also be noted that he attended Oxford University and cast the villains in the novel as being from Cambridge University....more info
  • Will leave readers alternately stunned and cheering
    Jeffrey Archer has had a remarkable run --- one that has taken him to the top of bestseller lists for fiction and nonfiction works, to both houses of British Parliament and to British prisons. When Archer is said to be known as "The World's Master Storyteller," one cannot determine if it is indeed meant as a compliment without knowing the predispositions toward Archer of the person making the statement. However, there is no question after reading A PRISONER OF BIRTH, Archer's latest work, that such a title should be applied in the positive.

    A PRISONER OF BIRTH is a literary novel in the classic sense; it is impossible to read the book without thinking of Charles Dickens's A TALE OF TWO CITIES or any number of works by O. Henry. Yet this is a contemporary tale, from beginning to end, set very much in the "now." It begins with a London couple, Danny Cartwright and Beth Wilson, celebrating their engagement with Bernie Wilson, Danny's best friend and Beth's brother. Before the night is over, Bernie will be dead, Danny will be framed for his murder, and Beth will have lost the two men she has loved most --- one to the void, and the other to a misapplied justice. Danny is sent to prison thanks to the machinations of a quartet of friends --- a barrister, an aristocrat, a popular actor and a successful real estate agent --- who, directly and indirectly, are responsible for Bernie's death.

    The ironic sense of humor of a prison guard results in Danny sharing a cell with Nicholas Moncrieff, an inmate whose jailing is as unlikely as Danny's. It is Nicholas who, both directly and indirectly, provides Danny with the means by which he is able to gain his freedom from incarceration and begin a studied and relentless revenge against the men who have sullied his name and ruined his life. How he is able to pull this off provides the meat for this complex and intricate tale, supported by a cast of unforgettable characters who come together in a spellbinding narrative, bookended by nerve-wracking courtroom dramas wherein freedom and an endless love hang in the balance.

    There are certain elements of A PRISONER OF BIRTH that require some suspension of disbelief: the close resemblance between Danny and Nicholas, upon which so much hinges, seems just a bit contrived, and Danny is almost too quick a study under Nicholas's tutoring to reasonably be believed. Such complaints, though, pale in comparison to the body of this story, which will leave readers alternately stunned and cheering --- and furiously turning pages until they reach the shocking conclusion.

    --- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub...more info
  • The Count of Monte Cristo meets the 21st Century!
    The Count of Monte Cristo meets the 21st Century
    Absolutely superb mystery. 5+ stars. One of the best books I've read in the last couple of years. From the first page to the last word, Jeffrey Archer keeps the reader involved and on the edge of one's seat. There is never a dull moment yet the entire story is intellectually stimulating as Mr. Archer builds the novel to numerous crescendos of thrilling excitement. Within the central premise of a man done wrong by the system, there are several stories within stories that ultimately build to a thundering climax with just a single word! Without a doubt this wonderful novel will become a classic.
    Basically, Mr. Archer tells the story of a simple yet humble man, Danny Cartwright, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time who is force to endure being wronged by the English judicial system. It is a story of never giving up and believing in one's self and the ultimate triumph of the "system". Luck plays a dramatic part as Danny ends up in prison for the murder of his best friend that he did not commit, but fortunately, he is put in a cell with two cashiered British Army soldiers who take Danny under their thoughtful and protective wings. From there the story takes off along the storyline of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, except updated for today. Absolutely a terrific story. Mr. Archer takes a difficult thesis that could easily become a caricature of itself and weaves an incredible contemporary tale of intrigue and suspense. Is it believable? That's the beauty of the tale, because as it evolves it becomes more and more believable. Rather than go off the deep end and stretch the credulity of the reader, Mr. Archer pays attention to details which makes the story both readable and believable. There is so much going on that it is difficult to tell all here, but, believe me when I say that Mr. Archer keeps it all in believable perspective. An absolutely delicious story.
    The best character development I have read in quite awhile. The story hinges on the characters although there is plenty of subtle action and intellectual twists. Mr. Archer more than makes his characters believable which is the fundamental basis for this stunning novel. A classic example of how to properly use character development successfully. Should be used in a college literature course to demonstrate the importance of good character development and interaction.
    This book will become a classic.
    Absolute must read. In my estimation this is Jeffery Archer's masterpiece. I read the book in several days so be ready because you won't be able to put it down. 500 pages.
    Thank you Jeffrey Archer. Looking forward to your next book.

    ...more info
  • Vintage Archer
    Once again Jeffrey Archer has created a complex tale of family, class, justice and injustice, love and hate, keeping the reader's attention to the very last page....more info
  • What Goes Around Smacks You
    The mystery and unsuspecting twists draw the reader into the book from cover to cover. Murders, courtroom drama, life behind the doors of prison life, injustice, redemption, and a clever love story on several levels are all ingredients that give this Archer offering my vote for five stars. Falsely accused of a murder, Danny must prove his innocence by trapping the real killers through an clever plan that is seemingly uncovered by authorities who outwit themselves in the process. The characters are interesting and well developed evoking the readers emotions and making this a page turner. This story is smart with an intelligent and stealthily plotted story and and series of wrenching twists that keep the reader guessing who will finally prevail in the end. The setting in Scotland and Great Britan add a foreign flavor that is a respite from the formula books of so many American murder mystery authors. You won't want to put it down....more info
  • A Tossed Archer Salad
    What do you get if you mix up a good portion of Archer's works together and toss them into something new? A Prisoner of Birth is a pretty good idea of what happens.

    Archer fans can see a lot of his previous characters in Danny Cartright, who is sentenced for a crime he didn't commit. Set free and in new circumstances by fate and the admiration of men who believe he's innocent, he suddenly is forced to fight a battle against the unjust on two fronts. He doesn't seek revenge or vengeance as much as poetic justice - and all within the letter, if not the spirit, of the law. ...more info
  • Absolutely Brilliant!!
    Jeffrey Archer is a master! There's no one else quite like him. This is a page-turner, filled with incredible suspense, memorable characters and amazing twists. ...more info
  • Jeffrey Archer Once Again Has Written A Riveting Novel
    In A Prisoner of Birth Jeffrey Archer offers up another multilayered thriller that includes a bevy of crimes emanating from a wrongful murder conviction. Among the transgressions are: the escape from Belmarsh prison that is a high-security establishment in southeast London, identity theft, stealing a very valuable stamp collection and its subsequent sale, perjury and forgery.

    The story unfolds with a Prologue where we read about Danny Cartwrights's marriage proposal to his girlfriend Beth Wilson. To celebrate, the couple decide to meet Beth's brother Bernie, who was also Danny's oldest friend, at a local wine bar to celebrate. It is here where the trio encounter four obnoxious individuals, an attorney, Spencer Craig, a well-known actor, Larry Davenport, an investment dealer, Gerald Payne, and an aristocrat, Toby Mortimer. The four, who seem to be inebriated, begin to spout vicious remarks at Danny, Beth and Bernie, particularly at Beth who they call a slut.

    Eventually, Danny, Beth and Bernie decide to leave the bar and they wind up at the back entrance where a fight ensues wherein Danny and Bernie take on two members of the quartet. Beth witnesses what is happening and heeds her brother's advice to grab a cab and as she enters the cabs she tells the driver that Danny and Bernie will be along shortly, whereupon the cab driver retorts, "I don't think it is a taxi they'll be needing, luv. If they were my friends, I'd be phoning for an ambulance."

    After this prologue, Archer then goes onto divide his tale into six books Trial, where Danny is falsely convicted of murdering his best friend Bernie, Prison, where Danny befriends two prisoners who will have quite an influence on his future life, Freedom, where Danny escapes prison impersonating one of the prisoners, Revenge, where Danny becomes very creative in settling scores with the guilty parties who were all instrumental in contributing to his unlawful incarceration, Redemption and Judgment.

    Archer once again shows himself to be gifted as well as being very creative.
    From the very first pages the story-telling clutches the reader and never lets go.
    He has written a carefully contrived thriller with great momentum and some very interesting characters which no doubt can be attributed to the two years he served in Her Majesty's prisons as well as his five years as a member of the British Parliament. Some of his previous novels as Prison Diaries, Kane and Abel, and False Impression have been international bestsellers and it would not surprise me if A Prisoner of Birth likewise reaches this plateau.

    Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor Bookpleasures

    ...more info
  • Preposterous Plot, But Still a Pretty Good Read
    The premise of the plot: That an illiterate mechanic from London's East End could swap places with a Scottish peer and become a world-class business brain in only a few years -- is simply preposterous. Archer depends here far too much on coincidence and serendipity in his plot and weaves a story that requires the reader to suspend credulity. One finds oneself laughing derisively at the ridiculous plot twists. HOWEVER...the book is pretty well written and once you realize that this is a fairy tale, no less than The Lord of the Rings or The Wizard of Oz, you can sit back and enjoy the book, with all its complicated twists and turns and compelling courtroom dialog. It's a well-written opus, but it's not a serious book. It's a modern-day version of "The Count of Monte Cristo". Read it if you have time to kill and you're bored....more info
  • Wow. One of Archer's Best
    This was an exceptionally well-written book that I could not put down. Archer weaves a wonderfully intellectually stimulating read. This book ranks with First Among Equals and A Matter of Honor. This was an outstanding book. Outstanding. I have already pre-ordered his next book due in March. ...more info
  • Officially Became One of My Top 5's
    To start, I have read on average 52-60 novels per year for the past 17 years. That's an average. I started reading this book a little over a week ago and just finished it. Obviously, the second someone is done with a book is not always the most objective time to review a book but I just couldn't wait.

    I'll assume you know the plot line and the players. Just think Count of Monte' Cristo meets 'Any John Grisham book' meets Wallstreet (movie) meets Shawshank Redemption. You get the idea.

    It has everything and it is done in a very proper and respectful English manner and it is done perfectly. Right this second, out of nearly 1000 books it is my #2. That's got to stand for something....more info
  • Good.
    Hmmm...you know Archer. He writes neat fast-paced fiction. His books are certainly not the gentle love story, rib-tickling funny, tear-jerker kind. He's all about unbridled passion, formidable enemies, money, power, and revenge. A prisoner of Birth is too.

    A small-time mechanic goes to a regular hangout with his fiance and her brother who also happens to be his best friend, to celebrate his engagement to his fiance. They are provoked by a couple of rich/famous/highly-placed/all guys into a brawl and the would-be brother-in-law gets killed. The mechanic is blamed for it and is sent to prison, away from his fiance who it turns out is pregnant with their child. How he escapes from prison and exacts revenge forms the rest of the story. The plot has been beaten to death, but hey, it's about how Archer writes it....more info
  • Prisoner to My Chair
    This was the first book I received on my new Kindle and I can't put it down. This is a courtroom thriller combined with action. All the other reviews saying this is a modern times Count of Monte Cristo are exactly right. Jeffrey Archer's style is brilliant and takes you on an incredible chronological journey of a man up for trial for a crime he did not commit. Archer takes you from one perspective to another without the slightest break or interruption. This book just flows and it is exciting. I highly recommend and the Kindle version is great as well!...more info
  • Lord Archer is back with a bang!
    Lord Jeffrey Archer is back with a bang! Doing what he does best. Writing fiction with revenge and justice as the major themes of his novel.

    I have not been as lucky as some as to meet this Lord in person. But I'm sure it would be an amazing experience just to hear him speak on any topic on this earth. He has an astounding insight on what seems to be almost everything.

    Lord Archer has proved yet again why he is one of the leading best selling authors of this generation.

    The similarities to Dumas's Count of Monte Cristo are clearly evident in this tale and even the main protagonist keeps referring to the book. But Archer gives this tale a modern twist and spices it up with intimate knowledge of the details that he gathered during his 2 year tryst in Her Majesty's prisons.

    The tempo of the novel keeps building up and its quite un-put-down-able (not sure if that is a word, but it describes this story aptly) To use a real word, this is a page turner. Definitely not bed time reading unless you plan to stay up all night until you are done.

    This is a book that every mystery/crime fan should buy and read and re-read (its a book that may need to be read twice as new angles are discovered which have a different significance on past conversations and situations)

    I'm now waiting for Paths of Glory which he is due to release in March of next year.

    ...more info
  • Far Fetched and Predictable, But an Enjoyable Read
    Those who have read Archer's former novels will find this story does go over the same ground of a lot of them. The book is a bit far fetched in parts, relies on coincidences to pull off the storyline and the central character Danny doesn't have a consistent level of intelligence throughout the story. The book is however fiction after all albeit not necessarily original. The story is good enough to keep you reading until the end and satisfying enough that you'd recommend it to others.

    This novel is really a couple of different stories following the timeline of the central character of Danny Cartwright. Initially we have the pretty much uneducated, illiterate and not too bright from London's poorer suburbs, Danny celebrating his engagement to life long friend Beth, with her brother Bernie in a British upmarket pub. Four drunk, upperclass men whose successful careers are quickly on the rise take exception to the three drinkers who don't really belong in such a place and don't hold back in bating the poorer class drinkers with their opinions of the group. One line of comments implying Beth is a hooker and they'd like a go when the two lads have finished with her particularly annoys Danny. Beth tries to usher her group out the back door to avoid confrontation but when they find one of the men blocking the path and the others waiting outside the Danny and Bernie can't resist teaching them a lesson. Unfortunately Bernie ends up dead and with the four men and the barman all disputing Beth and Dannys version of events, Danny is charged with his best friend's murder.

    Next we have a lengthy court room drama which to be honest is a probably a bit long since obviously with the title of the book we know the outcome. After this we have a story emulating Archer's own time behind bars revisiting the day to life of Archer's three A Prison Diaries books. Smartly Archer did not include in Danny's character the more irritating actions of himself as a prisoner such as refusing to drink tap water. In fact Danny's mentor and cell mate Sir Nicholas Moncreiff is probably based on Archer's perception of himself, (a guy jailed for a crime that seems laughable, keeps a diary and gets along and becomes a favourite with the prison staff). Danny basically decides to better himself and become like Nick, even getting the same haircut. The implausible nature of the storyline is also added that suddenly Danny looks exactly like Nick.

    The book then takes the reader on a Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less vengeance style storyline which although a lot more far fetched, predictable and unrealistic than that book was is still a good tale.

    The ending is very predictable, uneventful and a bit of a let down being that the cover blurb "prepare for an ending the will shock even the most ardent of Archer's fans". Clearly the blurb has not read this book at least not to the final pages.

    An enjoyable read, not Archer's best work but a decent length also means its not bad value for money.
    ...more info
    Virtually I could not put this book down! It was full of suspense from the first chapters. Archer has masterfully woven several plot lines
    into this story and yet does not lose the reader. I was speechless and
    mightily impressed with the ending!! So much so that I actually pressed "Next Page" on my Kindle several times. If you enjoy excellence in suspense, this book is for you!...more info
  • Great twists - clever and inspirational
    Prisoner of Birth offers a typically "Archer-esque" range of unexpected twists in an easy-to-digest, linear plot. Court scenes follow exhilarating clashes amongst legal heavyweights of the English system. One of Archer's best works. Highly recommended....more info
  • Great story
    While the story was terrific I was disappointed with the condition of a new book. On the book jacket there was a ink smear which was not a big deal. However 300 pages into the book there 5 pages of where the ink had run over. I have never seen this in a book before. Attempted to contact St Martin's Press but could not locate their address. Attempted to telephone Amazon for an exchange but no number listed on the internet. Reviewed their return procedures and it was a hasstle. Plus I wanted to complete this rivoting novel. Amazon could make things easier....more info
  • A typical Archer masala
    This is a typical Jeffrey Archer masala story. Keeps you gripped till the end.

    Falsely implicated and convicted for a murder, our hero escapes from prison and takes revenge. Archer relies on his extensive knowledge of the English Establishment to weave a very gripping tale.

    Archer fans will love it. ...more info
  • A Good, not Brilliant, Read.
    I've read all of Jeffery Archer's books, and love a good mystery, so much that when I find a good book, I keep on reading until the end. I really wanted to love this book, but it was a slow start and parts were somewhat contrived. I did read to the end, but will only recommend it as a beach or dead-of-winter read....more info
  • The Very Best
    I have long ebjoyed Jeffrey Archer and his writings. You can depend on mystery and intrigue. This accomplishes this very well.
    I found myself unhappy at the time when I had to put the book down.
    I believe this to be his very best!...more info
  • Another great one by the master storyteller
    Archer is a proven storyteller and this one did not disappoint. The story is about Danny. On the night he proposes to his girlfriend, Beth, they decide to meet up with Bernie, Beth's brother, and Danny's best friend, to celebrate. At the bar are four college friends who are celebrating a birthday and have had their fair share of wine and spirits. When one of them starts making nasty comments toward Beth which prompts Bernie and Danny to react, she decides to try get them out of there as quickly as possible. One of them, Spencer Craig, follows them out and starts a fight as Beth is trying to grab a cab. What happens next is a turning point that changes their lives forever. Danny is sentenced to 22 years in prison for he would rather go to prison as an innocent man, than agree to a plea that would be admitting to a crime, he did not commit. The power of four, all for one and one for all, maybe strong, but it does not stand up to the power of revenge.

    The master story teller takes you through a suspenseful rollercoaster ride of twists and turns which keeps you riveted till the end. I chose this book because I had recently read "Kane and Abel" and absolutely loved it. I was just as impressed with this one....more info
  • One of the best books I've read recently
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found it compelling and I did not want to put it down. I think the author did a great job weaving an intricate story. I love to have someone to root for and I got that in Danny Cartwright. I found myself thinking about this book many times as if the events were actually occurring in real life. I liked the fast pace of the book too.

    There were definitely a few things that didn't seem realistic to me but I was willing to suspend reality a bit for a good story. Probably the biggest problem for me was to have a completely illiterate man become not only proficient in his academic abilities over a very short time but excel beyond all others in his college courses or leap from not being able to read at all to reading Bleak House and the like.

    Absolutely worth your time to read this book! ...more info