Stony Man #27: Asian Storm

Stony Man #27: Asian Storm

After reading a lot of cynical, morally ambiguous Shadow-fiction recently, I decided to try a good old men’s adventure novel, where the good guys are all good, the bad guys are all bad, and the job of the former is to blow away the latter with .44 magnums, Galil sniper rifles, and whatever else is handy.

Such is the world of Mack Bolan—granddaddy of the men’s adventure genre, who sold millions of books and spawned dozens of imitators in the 1970s and 80s. Bolan began his paperback career as a vigilante known as the “Executioner” – a one-man army fighting a holy war against organized crime. By the 1980s, as Ronald Reagan was rekindling the Cold War with the Soviet Union, killing off mafia thugs was no longer enough for Bolan, so he expanded his war to include international terrorists and enemy spies. That was when Bolan joined the “Stony Man” organization, a deep black agency tasked with taking the gloves off and waging war on the KGB and their terrorist allies as ferociously as Bolan had previously taken on the mafia.

Unable to resist the prospect of Bolan matching wits with ninja assassins, I picked up Stony Man 27: Asian Storm, by Jerry Van Cook, and gave it a quick read. The story concerns the machinations of three ambitious Japanese brothers, members of an old Samurai family who have decided that the time has come to carve out an empire in Southeast Asia. Somehow, they have managed to engineer an alliance among several nations in the region, and are on the verge of uniting them into the Republic of Tanaka, which we’re told would be the world’s third great power, after the USA and China. To accomplish this, the Tanaka brothers employ the services of a ninja clan to do their dirty work, just as many Samurai families did in old Japan. The ninja clan is lead by a particularly nasty piece of work named Yamaguchi, who is not only a highly skilled shadow warrior and master of disguise, but a sex fiend who enjoys killing women and children in the line of duty. On the Tanakas’ orders, the ninjas are assassinating high-ranking Chinese leaders, framing the CIA in the process and bringing the USA and China to the brink of war. They are also stirring up deadly riots and committing terrorist acts stateside designed to inflame Asian opinion against the USA. The various plot threads come together nicely, as Stony Man teams Able Team and Phoenix Force race to stop the Tanakas from creating a perfect “Asian storm” and plunging the world into war.

You don’t read a novel like this for its high levels of Shadow op realism. Bolan, like Joseph Rosenberger’s Death Merchant and Shadow Warrior, has a superhuman ability to engage rooms full of armed men and come out unscathed, while leaving a room full of corpses in his wake. This is a skill the ninja themselves are legendary for; in fact, throughout this book Bolan and other members of the Stony Man crew manage to “out-ninja the ninjas”. Team members pull off several infiltration, diversion and disguise ops; Bolan completes a particularly impressive burglary using a grappling hook gun to cross between buildings, cut through a window, steal data from the ninja boss’s computer and get away via rope as automatic gun fire rains down on him. But at the end of the day, Bolan is more Dirty Harry than Sho Kosugi, and he prefers to settle things in a straightforward Western manner: by blasting the bad guys through the heart with his trusty Desert Eagle .44 Magnum.

For what it was and the time invested, Asian Storm didn’t disappoint. If you don’t expect literary subtlety or nuanced characters and treat this like a men’s comic book, you should have a good time. Get a copy of Asian Storm here.

The Killer Elite

The Killer Elite

The Killer Elite by Robert Rostand is best known for being made into a 1975 film starring James Caan and Robert Duvall — a decent movie that was very different from the novel (though it did feature one of the first appearances of ninjas in American media!).

This is another story from those cynical, paranoid 1970s, when, in the wake of the high-profile assassinations of the 1960s, Vietnam, Watergate, failed revolutions and revelations about the CIA’s nasty antics around the world, every thriller seemed to involve shadowy government or corporate entities scheming to overthrow regimes, assassinate leaders and deceive humanity (sound familiar?). The works of Robert Ludlum, James Grady’s Six Days of the Condor, and the film Parallax View are good examples of the genre; The Killer Elite adds an assassination storyline reminiscent of Frederick Forsyth’s classic The Day of the Jackal.

The novel’s protagonist, Mike Locken, is an operative for SYOPS–a secret American agency tasked with transporting and securing Soviet defectors and other VIPs who may be targets of enemy action. As the story begins, three international assassins have been identified entering England following an anonymous tip-off. Their target is a popular African leader named Nyoko living in exile in London, whom his homeland’s strongman leader wants to eliminate to defeat a popular uprising.

The premise of the novel is an intriguing one: what if a government used a “killer elite” of assassins to take care of problems instead of military forces? It was inspired by an actual proposal made by a member of the British House of commons, as related in the novel to Locken’s boss:

Tell me, Collis, have you ever heard of John Lee? … Member of Parliament here a few years back. Absolute terror on military spending. Made a brilliant speech in the Commons in sixty-nine with a radical proposal on how to cut the size of the British Army. Lee’s idea was to turn it into a small elite of political assassins. … His logic was that a small power like Britain couldn’t hope to compete militarily with the superpowers. Lee thought in this day the political assassin was more fearsome than the Bomb, hence a better tool of diplomacy. His speech made quite a splash in the dailies.

The African strongman has decided to adopt this policy, employing mercenary assassins in place of a standing military to take care of problems like Nyoko. The other major plot element driving the narrative is the fact that Locken was nearly killed during his previous assignment, by an assassin who happens to be one of the three hunting Nyoko. So Locken has an opportunity for revenge, and his new assignment becomes very personal.

After this intriguing setup, the novel becomes a chase story, as Locken has to safely escort Nyoko and his daughter out of Britain while luring the hated assassin out so he can kill him. There are twists and turns as treacheries and deceptions are discovered, and a fairly dramatic final confrontation. But just as the story climaxes, Rostand decides to give us several pages of exposition explaining exactly how the plot twists and machinations led to this point, which I found jarring and not very good story-telling. I also found several of the characters improbable, like the old man Nyoko and his city girl daughter, who suddenly turn into fierce primal warriors in the Welsh bush.

According to his bio, author Robert Rostand (real name Robert Hopkins) spent considerable time working and living abroad, which brings a worldly sophistication to his writing that elevates this novel a notch or two above the typical thriller. But it doesn’t reach the heights of other well-travelled authors like Forsyth, Trevanian or Adam Hall. The Killer Elite wasn’t a great read, but it was interesting enough that I’ll probably try the next installment of the Mike Locken series or other works by Rostand.

Get a copy of The Killer Elite here.

Chameleon

Chameleon

For my money, the late 1970s to early 80s were the heyday of popular assassin-fiction. That era gave us classics like Shibumi by Trevanian, The Matarese Circle and The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader and The Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell. I recently discovered another author who wrote popular thrillers in that era who is less well-known today, but still worth reading: William Diehl. His novel from 1981, Chameleon, is right in the sweet spot of fast-paced, sprawling thrillers of the period, featuring stylish assassins, international terrorism, political intrigue, vast conspiracies and intense shadow warfare.

The novel’s plot revolves around an intriguing concept: an anonymous, shadowy black ops bureau that employs freelance operatives from around the world, communicates via coded phone calls, and pays agents via cash deposits in bank accounts of their choosing. The agency, known as “the Service”, takes contracts from corporate interests who have problems they need solved quickly, professionally and without a paper trail. The leader of the Service is a mysterious figure called “Chameleon” that no intelligence agency can identify; figuring out who Chameleon is and what his organization is up to is what this story is about in a nutshell.

The book’s protagonist is ex-CIA agent turned journalist Frank O’Hara, who lives in hiding in Japan after exposing his CIA boss’s corruption. Now O’Hara, along with a very spunky and sexy reporter named Eliza, are on the scent of a huge scoop implicating his ex-boss, involving a mysterious mastermind called Chameleon, an oil consortium, wartime Japanese intrigue, international assassins and a secret order of martial arts mystics call higaru-dashi. All of this turns into a somewhat convoluted story that takes detours into Venezuela, Jamaica, Haiti and elsewhere before climaxing in Japan. Along the way we encounter several rather improbable characters, including a wise-cracking hacker-slacker called the Magician who, using an ultra cutting-edge device called a “personal computer”, has managed to gain access to most of the Western world’s intelligence databases; a paranoid, obsessive oil expert who keeps priceless industry secrets in a coded personal journal; a mad Bulgarian assassin now living in a Haitian asylum run by Catholic monks; a bear who drinks beer at a bar; and a tattooed cross-dresser with almost superhuman skill at martial arts.

Overall, I found this an entertaining but not stellar read. The opening chapters were very promising, with their detailed accounts of several Service black operations; the coded phone calls and other machinations of the agents were well done. But as the story developed, Diehl started to lose the plot and spend too much time on threads and characters I didn’t find very believable or compelling. The story did finish on a high note, with an assault on the Big Bad’s mountain lair and a final plot twist that would have been right at home in an Ian Fleming or Jack Higgins novel.

It really seems like Diehl was trying to capitalize on the success of Van Lustbader’s best-selling The Ninja from the previous year. This novel has many similar plot elements: the Japanese post-War intrigue and corruption, the American-Japanese cultural hybrid protagonist who belongs to an order of mystic super-martial artists, the old family feud, the wise Sensei, the terrifying Eastern assassin, the violence and the explicit sex. If you liked Van Lustbader’s novel, or the novels of Ludlum and Trevanian from that era, you will probably enjoy Chameleon. It’s not a classic or a particularly believable example of assassin-fiction, but it’s a fun read for fans of the genre.

Get a copy of Chameleon here.

The Murder Business

The Murder Business

The Murder Business by Peter C. Herring is an obscure thriller from 1976 with a premise so intriguing that I decided to track down a copy and read it. It’s basically a what-if  story: what if James Bond, due to psycho-sexual pathology and a tough childhood, turned to the “dark side” and become an assassin working for a SPECTRE-like cabal headquartered in the USA instead of Her Majesty’s Secret Service?

The dark side Bond in question is a handsome, dark-haired professional killer named Michael, who, like Bond, lives in a London flat, jets around the world on dangerous missions for a powerful cabal, is a smooth, stone-cold operative with a way with killing men and loving ladies alike. The cabal in question here is not MI6, but The Board–a circle of ten very powerful men who are said to secretly run the USA, and by extension, the world. The Board was apparently responsible for the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers in the 1960s, as the latter were threatening to expose and reign in their shadowy power. The Board has toned down their assassinations in the 1970s, but are still targeting politicians who threaten them with exposure–often dispatching their best operative, Michael, to do the wetwork.

The novel begins with Michael doing what he does best: sneaking up on a troublesome VIP and efficiently executing him with his trusty knife. Then we get to go inside the Board’s meetings as they plot more killings to ensure their continued world domination, followed by Michael doing another job–this one rather kinky, as it involves sex, killing and Michael’s rather orgasmic reaction to both. We also get to meet Jenny, Michael’s beautiful girlfriend who is the first person in the world that the stone-cold killing machine has ever had feelings for.

The story takes a sudden turn when the Board discovers a plot to destroy them by a rival organization seeking to unseat them as the world’s top Illuminati. Michael, with Jenny in tow, takes a vacation to the south of France to get away from the heat but soon finds himself hunted by unknown assassins. Who is trying to kill him and why? What should Michael do about Jenny, now that she knows he is involved in the murder business? The tale gets darker and more violent as more assassins show up, people are killed in gruesome ways, the Board is hit hard and the stress of it all causes a mental breakdown of not only Jenny but the normally Terminator-like Michael.

Despite the promising set-up, I’m afraid Peter Herring is no Ian Fleming. The writing is often clumsy and over-written; there’s a lot of irrelevant detail about what Michael ate, the color of the sky, etc., the characters are rather cliched, and the story lacks the flair that made Fleming’s Bond a worldwide phenomenon. This reads like a men’s adventure novel that is trying to be more literary than it needs to be, or than the author is capable of. Which is too bad, because Michael had the potential to be for the spy genre somewhat like what Parker was for the crime genre: a psychopathic protagonist who shows us what life can be like on the dark side, if you throw off the yoke of governments, laws and morals and become a freelance Shadow operative dedicated purely to the ruthless execution of your craft. But to achieve that status, Herring would have had to be a better writer; he simply doesn’t bring the writing chops or technical details that Donald Westlake did to the Parker series. Nevertheless, if you are intrigued by the premise and fascinated by dark side spy, crime and assassin fiction (what I call “shadow-fiction“), you may find The Murder Business worth your time.

River of Darkness

River of Darkness

James Grady stormed onto the spy fiction scene in 1974 with his debut novel Six Days of the Condor (basis for the classic film Three Days of the Condor), a novel I greatly enjoyed for its paranoid take on America’s shadow government, its memorable characters Ronald Malcolm and the French assassin Joubert, and its brilliant concept of “Section 9, Department 17” which I have written about previously here.

Grady wrote a sequel to Six Days of the Condor called Shadow of the Condor the following year, which I read years ago and found rather forgettable. I recently decided to give Grady another try with his much meatier offering from 1992 called River of Darkness (aka The Nature of the Game). This is Grady’s attempt to write a sweeping, epic novel about American shadow wars from the 1960s to the 1980s, as told through the experiences of ex-Green Beret and CIA operative Jud Stuart.

The narrative switches frequently between Stuart’s current travails as a Jason Bournesque agent who has become expendable and is on the run, to the efforts of an honorable ex-marine tasked by shadowy D.C. players with tracking Stuart down and taking him out, to flashbacks to Stuart’s earlier adventures as a shadow operative. The first flashback is especially intense, as Jud is air-dropped behind enemy lines in 1960s Laos and has to survive a close encounter with Pathet Lao guerrillas. By the early 1970s Stuart is working for a shadowy outfit run by rogue American generals, taking part in everything from the Pinochet coup to spying on the Nixon White House, raiding Russians in Afghanistan, drug-running and assassinating VIPs. But Stuart eventually becomes a liability who knows far too much, so he becomes a hunted man as the novel opens.

The flashbacks to Jud’s covert operations were the novel’s highlights for me, both for the riveting action sequences and the authentic, historically relevant nature of the ops. This is where Grady, a former investigative journalist, shines: he gives the reader a sense of what really goes on behind the headlines, in the deep shadows where America’s secret wars are won and lost.

Unfortunately, there is a lot more going on in this novel than just Jud’s black ops, such as banal romances, family dramas, dull D.C. intrigues and fairly generic characters. It feels like Grady was trying to emulate best-selling spy novelists of the time like Ludlum, Clancy and Van Lustbader, who favored sprawling, complex, bloated epics over the leaner, more focused thrillers of yesteryear (like Six Days of the Condor). While I’ve enjoyed more than a few fat thrillers over the years, I thought this one had a little too much going on, and too many characters and machinations that just weren’t very interesting.

All in all, I’d say River of Darkness is about half a riveting novel with authentic detail and gripping action, and about half a rather plodding and padded effort to make the novel more epic and Ludlumesque. It’s still a cut above run of the mill and comic book spy thrillers, and worth reading if you’re interested in a realistic fictional take on some of the dark goings-on in the Vietnam to Iran-Contra era in the name of American freedom and security.

Get a copy of River of Darkness here.

P-5000 Road to Spada Lake

P-5000 Road to Spada Lake

I decided to scout the the old P-5000 road (now called Forest Road 6126) that runs along the Pilchuck river after reading WTA user mato’s reports and doing a little research. Apparently people could drive this road all the way from Menzel Lake Road to Spada Lake 30 or 40 years ago, and it was a popular motorcycle trail until a boy was killed in 2005 and they restricted it to non-motorized travel. I wanted to see if it was still possible to hike the entire route to Spada Lake, and there was only one way to find out.

The road begins at a gate off Menzel Lake Road about 5 miles southeast of Granite Falls. The first eight miles are an easy, pleasant river walk. Then you come to a pile of trees across the road and things quickly go south. At 8.5 miles, the full-on bushwhack begins.

Entering the bushwhack section.

For the next five miles, you will be pushing aside bushes, scrambling over trees and up and down washouts, while making sure you’re still on the road. It’s not as bad as it looks, but it’s definitely a grind. There was a faint trail most of the way and it’s usually not hard to figure out where the road is by following the corridor through the trees.

At about nine miles you come to a ruined bridge over Wilson creek, but it’s an easy scramble and ford to get back on track.

The ruined bridge over Wilson creek (9 miles in).

I hammock-camped in the forest above the road; everything was covered in moss, a reminder that this area gets heavy rain. About 13 miles in I came to a crossing of Pilchuck River that I was concerned about from looking at the maps. As it turns out it’s no problem; there’s a ruined bridge that can still be walked across.

The ruined bridge over Pilchuck River (13 miles in).

Then you hit a perfectly maintained forest road—a beautiful sight after all the bushwhacking—that takes you down to the Culmback Dam on Spada Lake—which is another beautiful sight after having no views but trees and bushes for miles.The entire route to the dam was about 15 miles. From there it was a long road-walk down to Gold Bar and refreshments, ending a long but adventurous 24 hours.

At Spada Lake. Mission accomplished!

I liked the post-apocalyptic feel of this scouting mission; this is what hiking will be like after civilization collapses, when everything is overgrown and falling to ruin and nature reclaims the land. Is this is a glimpse of our future? Shadow Scout thinks so!

Squire Creek Pass

Squire Creek Pass

At Squire Pass.

Starting in Darrington, I walked a loop of about 20 miles over Squire Creek Pass. I road-walked about 3.7 miles to the Squire Creek trailhead and hammock-camped near the creek. The next morning I hiked up to the pass, which gets very overgrown and rocky toward the top. The pass area is a large flat rock surface good for camping, with spectacular views of the nearby peaks. I hiked down the other side via Eight-mile Trail, which is very rocky and steep in places (poles are helpful). Then I walked five miles on forest road 2060, connected to the Frog Lake Trail down to Mountain Loop Highway, cooled off in Clear Creek, and walked the highway back to Darrington.

One of many old-growth trees on this trail.

This was a surprisingly tough hike! You have to tread carefully over rocky slopes while bushwhacking and looking for the trail, and your knees will take a pounding going down Eight-mile trail. Don’t expect a mild, well-groomed, easy to follow trail. But the reward is a very nice wilderness area featuring rugged mountains, clear creeks and old-growth trees that you will probably have all to yourself (I didn’t see a soul). You are only a few miles from Darrington, but it feels much more remote.

Nice view of Whitehorse Mountain.
Nice view of Three Fingers as you approach the pass.
Anderson Mountain

Anderson Mountain

Panoramic views of Mt. Baker and Skagit valley near the top.

One of my ongoing missions is scouting sections of the Pacific Northwest Trail near me. For this trip I hiked over Anderson Mountain from Highway 9 to Alger, then did a loop from Alger along the PNT through Squires Lake.

PNT trail marker near the summit.

The trail begins at a gated forest road several miles south of Wickersham. It was a bit of a grind switchbacking up the mountain on a hot day, but several cold streams helped. After about 5 miles the road opens up to spectacular views of Mt. Baker and the surrounding peaks to the north and along the Skagit Valley. Near the summit I left the forest road and walked a nice section of trail marked with a PNT sign. I rejoined a forest road and got some nice views west to the Chuckanuts and the San Juans. At some point, due to the GPS track I was following, I got on an overgrown forest road that looks like it was abandoned 15 or 20 years ago. There were huge piles of logs on the trail and I finally ended up in deep bush with no sign of the trail. I pushed straight through the bush and finally connected to another section of the PNT foot trail, which took me the rest of the way down the mountain. Road-walking along narrow-shouldered Alger Cain Lake Road got me to Alger and the Shell station for refreshments. I hiked about 15 miles from Highway 9 to Alger and ninja-camped in the woods near I-5.

Lost in the bushes coming down the mountain.
Massive stump at the base of the mountain.

The next morning, fueled with a coffee, muffin and breakfast sandwich from the Shell station, I rejoined the PNT at the gated forest road just outside of town. This was an easy walk toward Squires Lake, with a side trip up Alger Alp, which has a nice vantage point over Alger. I followed the South Ridge trail to the Squires Lake Trail around the lake and back down to the highway. Several miles of road-walking got me across I-5 and back to Alger for more refreshments.

This was a fun little PNT scouting mission, but the trail toward the top of Anderson Mountain was confusing; you might have to do some serious bushwhacking to get back on trail. The mountain was surprisingly scenic, I had the trail all to myself, and Alger is a nice re-supply point that thru-hikers will welcome.

Lyman Hill

Lyman Hill

A typical view west toward the San Juans.

As part of my ongoing mission to scout sections of the Pacific Northwest Trail, I decided to hike over Lyman Hill (really a massive mountain) from Highway 9 then walk down into Lyman.

Starting from the gated forest road off Wickersham Road, the ascent was pretty relentless: nine miles and 4000 feet of switchbacks, the last part exposed to the afternoon sun. Fresh bear scat on the road, a bobcat and some circling hawks kept things interesting on the way up. The views west over Anderson and Blanchard Mountains, Lake Whatcom and the San Juans became more expansive as I ascended.

At the summit the forest road connected to the Gurdjieff Connector Trail (love the name), a shady, grassy ridge walk that was a relief after climbing a hot dirt road all afternoon. Then things got confusing as I entered an active logging area, where large tractors and piles of felled trees obscured the trail. I walked a little ways up the clear-cut to a high point, and suddenly I got a spectacular view north to Mt. Baker and the surrounding peaks. This was the best view of the hike, thanks to the loggers. In fact all the views on this hike were made possible by clear-cuts.

Spectacular views of Mt. Baker from a clear-cut near the top.

As I descended the east side of the mountain I got nice views of the Skagit River valley and the North Cascades in the distance. I hammock-camped on a piece of DNR land above a trickle of water and went to bed early so I could exfiltrate the mountain before any loggers arrived.

The view of Skagit valley coming down the mountain at sunset.

To my surprise, one or two trucks rolled up the mountain around 4 am, so I decided to pack up before dawn and hit the trail. I walked forest roads down the mountain for several miles, connected to Pipeline Road and walked a couple of miles into Lyman for breakfast. As a final challenge, two rather aggressive dogs approached me and made it clear they didn’t want me passing by their house. I quickly found a large stick and prepared to do battle, but fortunately their owner came out just in time and called them home.

All in all, a fun scouting trip of around 21 miles from Wickersham Road to Lyman. I didn’t see anyone on the trail, though I did hide from a couple of pickup trucks in the morning because that’s how a Shadow Scout operates.

Lyman Hill is privately owned but open to PNT hikers.
Prison Break

Prison Break

One of my long-standing interests as a student of the Shadow arts is “prison breakology”: the art and science of busting out of jail. This is a field as old as imprisonment itself, which demands the full extent of human ingenuity, daring, determination and endurance. As I see it, the Shadow-minded are all prisoners of civilization to some extent, so we should take inspiration and learn from these escape artists where we can. And for those who do live dangerously in the shadows, whether as a criminal, spy, special operator or what have you, these skills could be the key that frees you from years of non-life in a human cage, or even death.

Prison Break: True Stories of the World’s Greatest Escapes by Paul Buck is a compendium of prison breaks pulled off over the past two or three centuries. Focusing mostly on British convicts, Buck profiles dozens of amazing and ingenious breaks and the clever individuals who executed them. Buck’s research is impressive; not only do we learn about high-profile escapes from maximum security prisons such as Alcatraz and the Maze, but we get many lesser-known breaks that are almost all interesting in some way. Whether the escape involves climbing over walls, tunneling under them, busting out during transit, fleeing from courtrooms, impersonating others or being flown out by helicopter, we get many examples to study. We also learn about some of  the most amazing and celebrated escape artists of all timemen like “Honest Jack” Sheppard and Walter “Angel Face” Probyn, who seemed to make a career out of breaking out of prisons and making fools of  their captors. Such men are the champion athletes and maestros of escapeology, and in my book are at least as worthy of glorification!

One of the most striking things about these accounts is how quickly most of the escapees are caughtusually within a few weeks or months of their escapes. Most go back to their old haunts, old tricks and old associates, and soon find themselves back in the big house. It’s clear that many of these criminals, while geniuses at outsmarting the authorities while in prison, are not brilliant at figuring out how to do the same on the outside. Their biggest challenge, it would seem, is learning to live in the rather dull and domesticated manner of the typical law-abiding citizenand who can blame them?

One solution to this dilemma was found by “Gentle Johnny” Ramensky during World War II. A safecracker who had escaped from prison five times, he was contacted by members of British Intelligence who were looking for skilled and daring men to parachute behind enemy lines and steal top secret documents from Axis safes. Ramensky excelled in his new Shadow profession, breaking numerous safes, including some in the HQ’s of Goering and Rommel. Despite being set free and winning high praise for his war-time work, after the war Ramensky went back to his old ways, soon landing in prison and making several more escape attempts. Which goes to show that for some men, the Shadow life is the thing, regardless of whether society gives it their stamp of approval or not.

Prison Break is not as detailed as the Shadow War student would like; it’s broken into short accounts of each escape, most just a few paragraphs long. For more detailed study, the bibliography has an excellent list of references. This probably isn’t the kind of book you want to sit down and read in long stretches; the accounts tend to blur together and the stories become somewhat repetitive, but it makes excellent casual or bathroom reading. Definitely recommended for all students and fans of prison breakology.

You can purchase a copy of Prison Break here.