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SLAMMER by Allan Guthrie

SLAMMER

By Allan Guthrie

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-15-101295-4
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Noir exposé of an Edinburgh prison guard.

Nicholas Glass, barely 22, married and the father of a 4-year old, takes the only job on offer, at Edinburgh’s facetiously nicknamed prison, The Hilton. The more experienced guards poke fun at him, and the prisoners, who make shanks and machetes in the prison tool shop, set him up as their new drug mule. Veteran convict Caesar commands his obedience by setting Watt, an underling he has on the outside, to threaten Nicholas’ wife and daughter. Nicholas turns to Watt’s brother Mafia, a nearly blind inmate, for help, but when none is forthcoming he begins to siphon off drugs for his personal use to deal with the stress. As his habit escalates, his marriage deteriorates. His wife drinks and complains and threatens to pack up and leave. Glass buys a gun to rid his family of Watt once and for all, but the cons, who have tapes of his drug involvement, blackmail him into engineering a prison breakout. The plot leads to murder, both inside and outside The Hilton, and leaves Glass gibbering on his bedroom floor, soaked in blood, cradling a finger stump and ready for psychiatric incarceration.

Hard-boiled and then some, with no reprieve for the emotionally squeamish. Guthrie (Savage Night, 2008, etc.) has more plot twists up his sleeve than a Vegas card shark, and each is as clever as it is horrific.