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Started as hard work, I found the start very confusing, not really sure who the characters were, it seemed a bit all other place, wasn't sure who was a screw and who was a con.
After a while I settled down and started to get to grips with who was who.

The book takes you on a journey that could so easily happen if you were of a weak mind in a place where the survive of the toughest is an every day thing.

It's a book that you want to finish quickly to see what the outcome is, I really enjoyed the read and am so glad I didn't make the mistake of not finishing it after what i thought was a shaky start which I think it was probably me not concentrating after reading books for so long that have been far fetched that my brain couldn't engage in something that did evolve SAS type characters The Sacred Sword (Ben Hope 7) that are indestructible.

Well worth a read, be prepared to go on a dark journey which includes some clever dark humour
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on 30 September 2011
I'm glad I finished it in the evening rather than saving it for the start of my Friday off. To end one day in a contemplative mood feeling sombre is better than to begin the next feeling sombre before even getting out of bed. I think so anyway.

That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy reading Slammer. Far from it. In the usual books I read, a crime is committed at the start and is solved at the end by a crumpled hero and that's it; the world is put to rights again and we can all rest easy. I am almost complacent as I switch off the light, the next book already lined up, the one just read not dwelling long enough in the mind to cause a problem.

Mr. Guthrie doesn't do flowery stories about crime, featuring characters with straightforward lives touched by misfortune. There are no 'goodies' or 'baddies'. Slammer is the third of his books I have read. With this, like the others, I felt uncomfortable when I finished reading, once again shown the frailties of human nature. Nick Glass is introduced to us as a nervous, young man with a family to provide for - something he did not choose but made the best of - which is why he became a prison warden. Like many of us, he turns up at work each day and goes through the motions until it's time to return home, only to repeat the same routine again the next day.

I don't think I liked poor Nick much even before his troubles began. He doesn't get any more appealing as the book goes on but I was dragged along through the shadows, until it was too late; there was no escape. I watched with dismay wondering how things could get so out of control. Nick was conquered by his demons and so was I, the reader, in a way. It was with grisly fascination that I followed Nick along his path to self destruction.

It's a very sad, disturbing book. It demonstrates how easy it is to be led astray. It makes you wonder if we really aren't all creatures of circumstance. Life isn't meant to be predetermined. We have choice, don't we? Read it. It's a great book but don't expect a happy ending.
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on 26 September 2011
Slammer takes you on a dark journey that you know is not going to end well. From the first page I cared about Nick Glass, wanted him to do well, do right by his family and have a happy life. Allan Guthrie doesn't do "happy ever after". What he does very well is the capture the hope and naivety of the new boy setting out on a fresh career only to be shattered as reality hits and hits hard. Some nights I was almost reticent to read the next chapter not wanting to know what was in store for him as if by not reading our hero would stay where he was and his life might not spiral ever downwards but I had to know.

Allan Guthrie's Edinburgh feels ever so slightly like a caricature of the real city with certain aspects exaggerated along with some areas of the plot s. Think along the lines of the London in lock stock and two smoking barrels and you'll not be far off.

I look forward to the next Guthrie being available on the kindle
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on 6 September 2011
This is a very dark intense psychological thriller telling the story of Nick Glass. He is in his early twenties, married with a young child to support and he has been working as a Prison Officer in a high security jail for only six weeks.

Vulnerable and insecure, he is subjected to pressure from both inmates and colleagues. Threats are made against his wife and daughter and the stress builds to boiling point.

I've previously enjoyed Allan Guthrie's work and I can certainly commend his writing style. He expertly takes readers on a dark, rollercoaster ride, skillfully drawing you into the disturbed minds of his characters; his stories are definitely not for the faint hearted - there are quite a number of gut churning moments, particularly in 'Slammer'.

Allan has picked up on much of the darker side of life encountered in hard-core institutions and throws complex psychosis into the mix. Overall, this results in giving readers a mind-blowing experience.

To find out more you will have to read it yourself - I highly recommend it to all lovers of noir!
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on 5 September 2011
Allan Guthrie's noir touchstone is the story of Nick Glass, a prison officer who is out of his depth and trying to cope the ever decreasing circles of life in the slammer. A brilliantly written, claustrophobic classic.
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on 1 November 2011
This is the first of Guthrie's books that I've read, but after it I'll certainly be checking out the rest of his back catalogue. What starts as a straightforward prison drama rapidly descends into something much darker and more complex. The character is Nick Glass is well realised, even if he's sometimes someone you'd cross the street to avoid; and the prison atmosphere extremely well evoked, with its slang and routine and the underlying threat of violence.

As well as the quality of the writing, the emotional intensity behind it is something that you can't help but be affected by. There are several moments in this book when I felt the urge to stop reading and take a breath, whilst at the same time unable to stop doing so. I swear I yelped on the train this morning, reading the finale - sometimes you just can't help but get involved. And I wasn't sure that was possible on a Kindle!

All in all, a terrific piece of work, and still on offer at a ridiculously low price. I'd have paid 5 times as much. Buy it now before Amazon realise their mistake!
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on 28 January 2012
Shocked. Stunned. Numb. That's how you may feel after reading this Allan Guthrie novel. SLAMMER is by far the best thing produced by this author to date - and this is no mean feat given that his earlier work is also fantastic. This book simply gets into your head and starts to mess with it. The most disturbing thing is the way you find yourself identifying with the principal character. You nod to yourself in understanding over memories of his childhood behaviour and then watch in helpless horror as he quickly and easily descends into madness. Maybe he was always mad but it takes the current extreme situation to push him over the edge? Maybe the ease with which he slides into insanity, and the way you identify with him, indicate you are teetering on the edge yourself? Are you, in fact, only grasping onto the last dregs of your own sanity? The emotions churning inside you after finishing this book can be quite overwhelming. Caution is required. Once you start to read SLAMMER you can't put it down very easily.
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on 7 September 2011
Slammer is a gripping novel by the man behind the fantastic Criminal-E blog and author of the critically acclaimed novels Hard Man and the 2007 Old Peculier Crime novel of the year Two-Way Split. Slammer is now available as a digital download.

Slammer continues the theme of some of his other novels, which is that of flawed characters. Allan Guthrie does to his characters what major car manufacturers do to crash test dummies and then some. That's not to say that they don't sometimes deserve being put through the mincer. Guthrie delights in bringing us protagonists that for one reason or another are not functioning on all levels. The major character Nick Glass is a weak individual who is easily exploited and most definitely not the kind of person who should be working as a prison officer. Your whole world can shatter if you make the wrong decisions and so it is for Nick Glass, an individual who it is crystal clear has chosen the wrong career. When Glass turns to drugs for solace his life starts to go downhill rapidly.

A very fast paced novel that is most definitely for adults only featuring graphically described dark scenes. However, I'd point out that they are in keeping with the setting and never overdone. Slammer is a gritty psychological thriller, which as you come to expect from Guthrie is the kind of tightly written novel you race through. A roller coaster ride of a novel and like any good roller coaster you are thrown around with all the twists and turns. Allan Guthrie remains tartan noirs master of the nasty surprise. His plots are never predictable which is one of the things that make his novels such a thrilling read. Cracking stuff with Guthrie at the height of his writing prowess.
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on 19 September 2011
I missed this one when it first came out, but having enjoyed some of this author's novellas recently on the Kindle, I was pleased to see it republished. I think it's one of the best of his that I've read, and if I could have read it in one sitting I'd have done it. It was really hard to put it down.

It starts off as a seemingly conventional hard-boiled prison story, where the main character, a prison officer named Glass, comes over as a well-meaning but quite weak character. Inevitably his weakness is exploited by some of the prisoners, which puts a lot of pressure on him, and on his relationship with his wife, who is drawn into the events.

It's a fascinating portrayal of a character under stress, and the way this builds until he reaches bursting point. It's very cleverly done, and it's a sign of the complexity of the characters that in one scene you can be sympathising with Glass, and in the next scene you want to slap him for being so weak. None of the characters is a cardboard cut-out, and some of the nastiest ones are wonderful creations.

I read the 2-star review this book got and the reviewer complained that you had to re-read some of the scenes. Yes you do, but to me that was a pleasure, not a problem. You think you're reading an account of what happened, then you realise it's a fantasy, or it's an account of what the character wished had happened. You do need to rewind a few paragraphs here and there, but for me that was one reason the book was such a pleasure to read. I can see that with a less-skilled writer it might haver annoyed me, but not here, where it's cleverly done. And when you get to the end of the book, you understand more how that technique enhances the story.

I can also believe that this is exactly how some prisons are. It is tough, it is sometimes funny, there are sudden unexpected episodes of violence, and the interplay between the characters (guards and prisoners alike) is gripping. It would make a great movie or TV drama too.

As I said, this is one of Allan Guthrie's best, and like other reviewers I'm so glad this is available at such a good price on the Kindle.
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on 8 September 2011
It was. It is. It will be. That's linear time and conventional physics. Was it? Is it? Will it be? That's some of the aspects of string theory. Then there's chaos theory, where you scrunch all of those concepts into a wadded up mass and just fling it all over the room. Then you jump up and down on it yelling, WHOOPIE. The Allan Guthrie theory is: think about all that . . . then get a great big paddle, stir it all into a bubbling stew pot of confusion and uncertainty, toss in a stick of dynamite, stand back and just plain enjoy the explosion.
You enter Slammer with all of your illusions about, The Way Things Are, intact and working just fine. You exit in quite another space. A space a certain mister Salvador Dali would have approved of highly. A space where you're not so sure of everything you know anymore. It will take you a quite a while to fully emerge from where Slammer puts your head, shake off the chaos that's rattling your brain. You'll be dazed and confused by it. But you'll certainly be glad you took the ride.
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