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VINE VOICEon 22 April 2010
Chris 'Chancer' Chance has led a colourful life and that is some kind of understatement. Often drawn by adventure and a sense for danger, Chancer has on occasion found himself in some of Spain's harshest and most violent prisons.

The Lone Brit starts with Chancer's initial capture in Spain in 1998 and his time in the notorious Carabanchel, then several other prisons around a brief interlude of freedom. Mostly written while he was in prison the narrative is open, honest, free flowing and often amusing. Sometimes bluntly harsh and unstintingly frank. While reminiscing from prison Chancer jumps back in time to memories of serving in Ireland as a young man, his adventures running drugs from Spain to Liverpool by car, running drugs along the coastline between Spain and Morocco and his observations of the often violent mini cultures of the prisons he lived in. At no time is the narrative anything other than utterly captivating.

That is the appeal of both Chancer's books. He is a different kind of person than most of us and has lived a life many can only imagine. The quality of the writing is in Chancer's ability to imbue the stories, anecdotes and often brutal violence with a sense of the person he is. There is something quite soulful in his quest that is very charming. It really does set these books above many other true crime I have read. I lost count the number of times I said despairingly out loud: 'Chancer!' Usually while I was on the train as he got himself into another pickle having once again broken one of his many and entertainingly detailed rules for capture avoidance.

There are two books as I have mentioned. While they are both set within the same period of time Lone Brit covers Chancer's life in greater scope, while the other titled: Carabanchel, is an unflinchingly detailed and brutally violent account of his six months in Carabanchel prison. It is a different kind of book and very much in the style of early Andy McNab non fiction, except set in prison. My recommendation to you if you have read neither is to read the Lone Brit and then Carabanchel. Either way, seeing life through the eyes of Christopher Chance is an experience not to be missed.

Carabanchel: The Last Brit in Europe's Hellhole Prison
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on 31 July 2010
Even if you don't agree with Chis Chance's previous way of earning a living (he was a cannabis smuggler, and that's the reason he was in a Spanish prison), it is hard not to have some empathy with his methods of survival in several Spanish jails-violence, and at time fairly extreme.I don't doubt that life in many foreign prisons is tough to say the least, and when Chance finds himself in a dark place where even a refusal to buy an inmate a coffee can result in a knife in the kidneys, he resorts to using his martial arts skills to render any enemy unconscious, broken and bleeding.This graphic account is probably not for the easily offended,revealing a world that most law abiding citizens do not know exists.I finished the book though slightly confused about Chance's moral compass- a guy who at the time of writing is a God-fearing (if that's the right term) and honourable man, yet one who considers trafficking dope acceptable, though not hard narcotics. That aside this a brutal, hard hitting and difficult-to-put-down title, and well worth reading.
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on 25 December 2011
If you're looking for adventure from the comfort of your armchair, without being incriminated as a smuggler's apprentice, this is the book for you. Mr. Chance accepted, what was to be his last job to help a friend out, whose family were in fear of being shot by cowardly dealers. Needless to say he was captured. Only when the handcuffs were good and tight, did the brave policemen with pistols set about him in the most brutal fashion.

Mr. Chance spent twelve years in the British army, so rest assured, he is a highly trained individual who will refuse to surrender under any circumstances. He has also dedicated much of his life to The Martial Arts, gaining black belt fourth Dan, allowing him to teach. [No easy task!] I am convinced that without these essential tools in such a harsh prison, he would have died. Mr. Chance was never the aggressor in this stink-hole, and never took the first shot; he would allow the assailant to make the first move, which would inevitably result in waking up in the Infirmary, wondering what happened.

You will not spend the whole book in the drudgery of prison life. As part of Martial Arts training he would regularly meditate and leave the rats to scurry about, while he visited better places, taking the reader with him on all sorts of adventures. Only returning from tranquillity to red alert by the crash of the door bolt and screws shouting.

All the while his two bob Spanish lawyers, promise action but never deliver. This surely must be torture. It seems Human Rights have not yet reached the Spanish Penal system, let alone Syria and China!

This is a true story about a man's will, strength and determination, not to be beaten by corrupt officials and in-mates alike. Truly a man of many talents with a thirst for adventure. His good wife, also a black belt, supported him throughout this ordeal. They don't give highly prized black belts away in jamboree bags -- you have to earn it!

A great read with the message; never give up hope, nothing lasts forever.
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on 1 February 2014
Not for those of a squeemish disposition. A book you will struggle to put down once started. I cannot recommend this journal enough. Word patterns superb and Chancer engages his audience in a way that puts new insight into how a Western Mediterranean country really treats it's neighbours
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on 27 June 2005
This is a truly fascinating book. I'm not a big reader of true crime but this is a book I found hard to put down - at the end of every page I wanted to see what was coming next. It is full of incident - from high speed chases to bloody combat, from battling to keep alive steering a yacht in a lashing storm to surviving as the lone Englishman in a high-security Spanish jail.
On many occasions, while recalling many such horrifying and life-threatening incidents, Chance shows himself to have an incredible survival instinct, drawing upon both mental self-discipline and deadly martial arts skills whenever trouble comes looking for him.
But equally the Chance we see in this book is an extremely philosophical and reflective man. With the help of the mental training he has received as a skilled martial artist, Chance is able to take time out from the horrors of these episodes of his life to reflect and meditate, reminiscing - with much humour and sentiment - on happier times and drawing strength and the will to live from his own sense of self-respect and commitment to the wife he loves.
Overall, this is an honest, gripping account of a life of crime and the often horrific prison existence that was its consequence. What drives it is not just the events it describes, but Chance's highly personal, direct, sometimes blunt and sometimes humorous style and the knowledge as you read it, not only that these events happened but that Chance lived to tell the story.
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on 17 March 2013
I first heard about this book when I was reading a news paper, and it had a small extract about a bathroom, a man called zombie, and a razor. I barely read books at all, but this etract got my attension. I bought this book next day and read it about 5 years ago, and it was a great read! I've just started reading it for a second time.
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on 29 July 2015
Very good story about a nice but dangerous guy,Chris..also sheds light on the brutal prison system in Spain,,shocked that things that bad happens in a civilized country's prison,,,also well written and Chris seems a decent guy
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on 28 July 2014
Hard hitting and honest story that should tell everyone to stay away from drugs.
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on 26 August 2006
Okay, granted, this book was hard to put down, however, it was also easy to skip through pages & pages of immaterial narrative from his days as a squaddie, in Northern Ireland...n offence to the guy but, if I wanted to read about one man's exploits in the army in Northern Ireland then I would have seeked a book regarding this. The same was regarding his martial arts, whereby the book turned into a spiritual & physical martial arts manual at times, which again will not interest everyone who wants to read about prison experiences. That was the frustrating part of this book, an inconsistent narrative, jumping between times, prison stretches etc, going onto martial arts explanations & instructions, without too much cohesion. What this book does have in its favour is gritty realism of his experiences, descriptions of how he carried out his smuggling crimes, vivid descriptions of the fights he was involved in whilst in prison, the attackes he was subjected to, the people he met. Okay, he tends to generalise & subjectively insult the Spanish at every opportunity, which can be uncomfortable reading for somebody sat at home in a comfy chair, however the author was writing this from a prison rec. room in Spain, with corruption & violence all around him from the spanish authorities, so you have to forgive him some bitterness & overlook it. All in all, not a bad book, just a tad inconsistent in its intended subject matter, more an autobiography of his life & interests, with a lot of prison fights thrown in.
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on 25 June 2007
What a great read !! I'm not usually into true crime but my mate lent me this book and once started I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed the humourous brutality of the authors writing skills, it's not often you can be shocked and made to laugh on the same page ! I enjoyed the way Chance escapes his dirty cell as he takes you with him on a twisting journey of humour, smuggling and destruction. This book is totally addictable and having read his other book I'm hoping there's a third coming out soon. Chancer you have a fan club already !!
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