To say I was blown-away after reading this book would not do this unbelievable and frightening story justice. Putting to one side your views on the evils of drugs and those who help bring it into our country, no one should have to experience the tale that Frank Kane somehow lived to tell.
Most men would like to think they could puff out their chests and deal with any situation they are faced with. But I’m not too sure I could deal with five minutes of the horror that is described in this book. Imagine arriving in a strange land and immediately being faced with a group of knife wielding men who are threatening to kill you and your only way to protect yourself is to find your own knife and fight back. We're not talking about a disagreement in the office here! And that is what Frank had to deal with every day while locked up.
Frank doesn’t really go into too much detail of how he lost his business and ended up desperate enough to agree to smuggle cocaine out of Venezuela with his girlfriend, Sam, and neither does he ask for the readers sympathy. But what he does go into detail about is the sheer hell in which he lived for seven years in one of the most violent and brutal penal systems in the world.
The book takes its name and inspiration from the moment Frank arrives at El Dorado prison, better known for being the one-time home of Henri Charrière, or Papillon. From the moment he steps through those prison gates, Frank enters a world where even the prison guards refuse to enter, instead choosing to police the prison from the outside on the perimeter.
What this means is that Frank is housed in an overcrowded population of murderers, rapists, and gang members armed to the teeth with all manner of weapons from machetes to machine guns and even hand grenades.
Some of his accounts are nothing short staggering. Frank tells of the night one of the gang leaders breaks down a wall to enter the cell where he is sleeping and viciously murders another prisoner right in front of Frank’s eyes, who is then forced to remain in the cell for the rest of the night with the corpse out of fear of reprisals should he attempt to even move the body.
This book is totally jaw-dropping from start to finish, and without a doubt the best prison book I’ve ever read. It is not going to be to everyone’s taste, but if you are a fan of the genre (or even a fan of seeing how far the human spirit can be pushed) then I can’t recommend this highly enough.