Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Lad Lit Book Reviews: Hell in Barbados by Terry Donaldson

Books For Men Book Reviews! Hell in Barbados by Terry Donaldson
It’s one thing if Terry Donaldson experienced what he considered to be Hell whilst he was stuck in a Barbados prison for three years, but that really was no reason to put the reader through the same ordeal of having to read this book. I can honestly say that having read a number of books about people being locked up in foreign prisons that this is by far the worst of the lot.

At the start of this book, Terry Donaldson explains about his early life and how he became to be a relatively successful British TV presenter in the 90s, but succumbed to the evils of drugs (and prostitutes) at which point his life spiraled out of control to the point where he agreed to smuggle drugs out of Barbados and into Britain.

The problem is I took an almost immediate dislike to Terry, and not because he was a drug addict. I’m not here to judge anyone for what they have done in their life, but I will judge them if they are whiney, miserable, and full of as much joy as an eight hour road trip with Victor Meldrew. Terry seems oblivious to the fact that he only has himself to blame, which meant by the time he got to prison I had very little sympathy for him or any of horrors he faced.

The other issue I have is that this book is called Hell in Barbados but compared to some of the other books I’ve read on this subject matter, Terry’s three-year stint was a walk in the park! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not for one minute saying that a 36-month stretch in a Caribbean clink was a holiday camp (although it is probably is better than a caravan holiday at Butlins), but if you read the likes of In The Shadow of Papillon or The Damage Done, then you really know what hell is like!

And maybe that is the real problem for me. I’ve seen other reviewers give this book four or five star ratings, and rave about how good it is, but I can only presume that is because they haven’t read any other books in the genre. This one didn’t grip me like those other books did, and as Terry rambles on from one thing to the next playing the ‘woe-is-me’ card, all I wanted to do was reach into those pages, give him a slap, and tell him to man-up! He doesn’t even seem to grasp the fact that he is the only one to blame for the predicament he finds himself in. You are almost glad that he ends up facing a bit of hard time!

I never really worked out why Terry went from being a happily married man with a nice car and a four-bedroom house to using crack and heroin, and sleeping with as many hookers as he could get his hands on. Maybe he did explain it but it was lost on me.

I stuck with this book until the very end in hope that it would get better at some stage, but even the riot in the prison seemed tame by comparison to some of the other horrors I have read about in other books, or perhaps by that point I had simply just lost the will to live and didn’t care anymore. Sorry Terry, this one wasn't for me.

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