So I have just finished the last in the Shaun Attwood ‘Time’ series, and wow, it was emotional. The sequel to ‘Hard Time’ follows ‘English’ Shaun as he journeys through Arizona’s prison system serving time for distributing Ecstasy. The series charts his rise from a poor English student to a drugs kingpin, then right down to a prisoner in a system designed to make you fail.
Having read the whole series in chronological order (Party Time, Hard Time and then Prison Time) I was expecting this to be the most difficult part of the saga, and I wasn’t wrong. As gripping and difficult to put down as the previous two, it benefits from Shaun’s finely tuned, almost journalistic, style of writing. Which captures the drama and feeling of the moment while creating an accurate documentation of what his surroundings where like.
We are introduced to some amazing characters throughout the book, both scary and genuine. From She-Ra, a tall transsexual who becomes friends with Shaun during his spell on the low security yard. Another is a great giant of a man is T-Bone, a kind of dark knight of the prison, who puts his life on the line protecting those who are weaker then him from prison rape. The person who seems to have the most effect on Shaun in ‘Two Tony’s’, a mafia hit man who has left a trail of bodies from New York to LA.
One thing that stands out to me in this book is how genuine and touching Shaun’s naivety when it comes to women is, from Jade to She-Ra. Maybe it is down to him looking for the best in people, but in this book we see love, heartbreak and confusion in equal measure. I especially liked the confusion that arose when he met Gina, who he describes as being as close to a women that you will meet in an all-male prison. After being in prison, where the constant search for love and companionship is part of everyday life for that long, I can sort of understand where he comes from.
We see Shaun develop his caring and nurturing side within this book, even to the point of developing an almost ‘guru’ persona in the prison. But not everything is smooth sailing, from arguments with others over his blog to a system that seems to be out to get him. Shaun battles not just to stay out of trouble, but to get out alive.
As with all the other books in the series it is dark, shocking, funny and really emotional right to the end. I must admit I am really sad the series is now over for me and will hope that one day Shaun writes a book about his return to normal life in England.
I give it 5 out of 5.