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on 20 September 2007
I have no doubt that the state of Thai prisons is as harsh as made out in this book.
Having lived in Thailand for months at a time, I would suggest that the corruption, and violence that stems from that rotten core, as described in this book is perfectly accurate. To say that Police, prison guards and other Thai's treat farang with utter distain I would suggest, is also highly likely. They don't like us much as it is when we're out on the streets, let alone convicted of a serious crime and awaiting sentance.
The thing that had me raising an eyebrow was the inconsistancy of Colin Martin's character.
A family man to start. Kids, wife, good business acumen. Conned out of some serious cash by hard hitting and large scale fraudsters. Ok. So far so good. It happens.
But then we see a darker side to Martin. Maybe its in the way he chose to write the book, maybe I'm reading too much into it, but a man goes from placid businessman, to someone who stalks and hunts the men who ripped him off. Still feasable. For 3 years? Benefit of the doubt.
But the moment comes when he meets one of the fellons and he smashes his face in with a headbutt?! No pre banterr, no real conversing or at least threatening... Just Bang !!! Headbutt and assault. From here on in I was just not taking to Martin's pitiful story probably as much as I should have been.
The fight by the road puzzled me greatly too. And the "evidence" brought against him at a later date. The fight itself seemed to be described in a disjointed fashion. Then later in the book we hear that the dead man had been stabbed more than once. Martin himself describes the police report. But he doesn't try to ask for answers. Or if he did, he didn't write it down in the book? If I had been sent to prison for murdering a man who's body went missing, then turned up, but was never physically seen by anyone, I'd demand to ask for photos, fingerprints. My lawyer to see the corpse... anything. But he doesn't. Its all just too weird.
As for his treatment by the police, the prison system and the general population of Lard Yao prison, among others, that part of the book I have no doubt is as accurate as you can get, and I feel desperately sorry for Colin Martin during that hellish plight.
I love Thailand to bits,and my thai friends, but I can see why after reading this you may never want to go there.
A book that is disjointed in its construction, but thoroughly frightening in its content. For a completely differing point of view, read "The last executioner" by Chavoret Jaruboon. This book will help you see that nothing is what it seems, and that no one is completely objective with the facts, in this case about criminality and punishment in Bangkok, be it Colin Martin or Mr Jaruboon.
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on 6 January 2006
I bought this book whilst on vacation in Thailand, and found it to be an engaging, lightweight holiday read, but was left feeling that only a part of the story had been told. Martin was without doubt the victim of a major, complex fraud and found the police less than helpful at best. There was a very strong sense however that he underplayed the vigor with which he carried out his own inquiries, both with and without the assistance of four of his Thai brothers-in-law.

That he head-butted Hayes in a bar without any physical provocation demonstrates a propensity for violence. The book acknowledges that the body of Holdsworth had suffered several stab wounds; but makes no effort to discuss this in spite of the fact that during the course of their fight, Holdsworth injured Martin with a knife. Martin's account of the circumstances both during and after the fight is curious at best, and the book assumes that the reader will accept it on face value.

Interestingly Martin emerged as something of a "hardman" whilst in prison, which no doubt assisted him to survive the experience. Is this a veneer that one could assume, were it totally out of character? Probably not.

Martin's assertion that "foreigners" were all at risk of being the victim of the thoroughly rotten, corrupt and highly manipulative tourist police is not consistent with the experience of millions of people who visit Thailand each year. It woud be a very difficult secret to keep, even on a minor scale, it was as if by comprehensively trashing the entire Thai criminal-justice system he could in some way justify and explain his own position.

Martin's experience has no doubt been traumatic and damaging, and his desire to protect his young children from the horrific details laudable. This may have been easier to achieve however, had he not published this book less than a month after his release from custody. An entertaining read, but left many questions unanswered. Make up your own mind!
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on 17 November 2008
As I started reading this book,lying in my warm, clean and comfortable bed it was difficult to imagine the filth, inhumanity and degradation of life in a Thai prison.
Thanks to the brilliance of the author I was soon transported to the endless noise and smells of the streets of Bangkok. From there I was taken to Thai villages before visiting police stations and eventually a fetid jail.
This journey through eight years of the authors life took me six hours to read....I was captivated by the events and also the way they were told.
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on 14 February 2006
This book is a bit of a belter, I had previously read The Damage Done, at least you could say Warren Fellows deserved to be there. This book highlights the sort of trouble you can end up in when overseas, it is both well written and hard to stop reading. I would argue that Thailand is in fact a wonderful country and the people can in most cases be trusted, the legal system is a real problem though.
Read this book it has something for everyone and is more than just another prison nightmare.
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on 16 August 2011
I have read a few of these books so was expecting the same sort of story - Thai corruption, dirty prisons etc...But what I found when I read this book was that I couldn't actually believe that he was innocent. How can he go from a 'normal' business man with a family, to a complete thug who headbutts people, then attacks prisoners. I do not believe his account of the fight that happend which ended up with the bodyguard dead. It's all to shaky...Would O'Conner really of just left without his bodyguard and not tried to ring him to see where he was, if Colin is correct in stating that they thought he ran away...I can not believe a body guard would run away after a few punches from Colin? Colin states that his wifes brothers were in the car but all asleep...Whilst he was fighting the bodyguard O'Conner could of run off...Why didn't he? O'Conner could of jumped in and started attacking Colin also, seens as the thai brothers were alseep and it was just Colin they had to fight. It is from this point that I couldn't believe him of his innocence....BUT reading how he was tortured for all those hours is dreadful...(if it was 5 hours, see I kinda then doubt things when I feel I am being lied to) and how the Court system is worked is horrendous. It also amazes how you can be a drug smuggler and get 20 years (Shappelles story), but you can murder someone and get 8 years.

Fair play to Colin for getting fit, and learning a sport and mostly keeping out of trouble - again this is another thing, he says at the beggining of the book that he got beaten daily...then goes on to say he was left alone apart from the odd scuffle he had with the Blue Coats....

I have no doubts in believeing his story when it comes to life inside the prison, and the hospital...I just don't believe he was innocent...
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on 30 August 2006
This book is truly unputdownable! i read this while in thailand given to me by a friend, and i have to say i read this in a day! and also not being one that reads alot this is an achievement! some parts are a little grey but i can understand how easy it is to fall into some trouble if your there for any length of time.

a really good read
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on 7 January 2008
I have read a few "Thai prison" books and this one is among the best, without a doubt. Not only does it tell you about the horrors of the Thai penal system, but equally shocking, about the human treason and betrayal of the worst sort. This book definitely made me think twice about ever going to Thailand again. I am sure it is a nice country, but it is probably not safe. Unlike some other reviewers, I felt that Martin's story was very credible and it is most of all consistent with other accounts (i.e. Fellow's book for example).

I read this book in a sleepless night and it was impossible for me to put it down.
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on 26 January 2009
I enjoyed this book, the conditions that the author endured I have no doubt were awful, and he's learned many painful lessons whilst there.
There are however a few holes or hazy bits to Mr Martin's story.

Why did he remain in Thailand so long after he was swindled?
I know he says he had to hunt for the men who conned him, but three years?

Also I believe he did kill the man that he was imprisoned for, and he knew it. After-all the other conman (alias O'Connor) was able to tell the police that and lead them to the man's body.
The book also reveals the fact that the body had multiple stab wounds.
My own feeling is that the man who was murdered was getting the better of Martin, possibly to the point that Martin felt his own life was endangered. But Martin stabbed him, as I see it anyway.
There's also the possibility that his Thai wife's four brothers were involved in the man's death, but I think that less likely.

It also seemed according to the author that his wife left him almost immediately after he was swindled, long before his arrest. I can't help but wonder if this is as Martin tells it.

Also why did he not go back home after he was swindled, at any time during the three years before his arrest?
He still had children even if his wife had left him.
He seemed to settle and marry again in Thailand remarkably quickly for a man who claims his sole interest was finding the men who conned him.

Having been to Asia myself, I do understand their culture where money is king, and life is remarkably cheap.

Having read "Warren Fellow's" book on his imprisonment, conditions are subhuman there and much more difficult for westerners to adapt to than Asians.

The book reads well and the story is interesting, if not totally accurate.
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on 8 January 2012
After reading The Damage Done by Warren Fellows (I recommend this highly if you're looking for books about prison life and corruption) I was excited about downloading this book. However, I was extremely disappointed. Firstly, the actual story of how he got sent to prison takes up about 45% of the book and is very detailed, but not what I wanted to read about. His story also leaves you wondering exactly how innocent he is. After all, he spent 3 years obsessing over the men who scammed his business, visiting the bars and restaurants until he found one of them. Scary.

The second problem with the book is that, of the remaining 55%, perhaps two thirds of this taken up by the court process. I understand that it's important to see what happened in the courts to be able to see the corruption involved but it feels like an awful lot of it is "They took me to court again... my lawyer was bad...12 weeks later, I went to court again.... my lawyer was bad....". Details about prison life are few and far between. He doesn't mention friendships formed, how he got through every day life. I think when writing this book he wanted to expose the corruption of the law and courts rather than the experience of prison life.
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on 22 June 2005
There are not too many books that once you start reading them,you are unable to put them down.This is one such book.How Colin survived that hell hole,one will never know.Films such as Midnight Express and The Shawshank Redemption for their brutality
are only mild to what Colin describes in his everyday life within the Bangkok Hilton,and after all these are only films.To be honest Colin was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.Thailand does on the other hand have a chronic drug problem that is eating away at the fabric of its society and could eventually undermine that country as a nation.So i do believe harsh methods are required to deter drug pushers and traffickers.But Colin never fell into and of these categories and therefore should have had the full protection of the law and should have been innocent until proven guilty and not visa versa.I believe that the court service as with the legal service in Thailand are just overwhelmed with cases about drugs and narcotics that the system now works on nods and winks and Colin,despite his protestations fell into a limbo.Special praise must go to John Mulcahy of the Phoenix magazine in Dublin.As an avid reader of this self same organ,I can vouch that John Mulcahy is a journalist that is held in high regard and esteem among his readers.Everyone should read this book and I hope that Colin gets his life back on track again.
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