If the rage that characterized the British writers known as The Angry Young Men had ever been focused on a novel about prison, Allan Guthrie’s SLAMMER might well have been the result. In the course of the relentless story of prison guard Nick Glass, it takes apart the prison system, prisoners who make the OZ boys look soft, the police, the underground gun society and, not least, a marriage foundering on the fact that neither Glass nor his wife can quite get around her brief affair with another man.
In short explosive scenes, SLAMMER demonstrates that not only is Glass himself a prisoner (he badly needs the job), but so is his family. Prisoners demand that Glass start sneaking drugs into them. If not, an outside man will kill his wife and child.
This is Guthrie’s masterpiece to date, grim and brutal in tone, cunning in design and flawless in the telling. He keeps the numerous plot turns both exciting and believable. There is a surprise twist in the middle of the novel that stuns the reader and makes the pace even faster. SLAMMER could pretty much be filmed as is.
Years from now we’ll look back on this one as a major leap forward in Guthrie’s career. SLAMMER is not only artful, it’s real art. —Ed Gorman