Today I welcome back to TKZ, guest blogger J.H. Bogran. José is a fellow ITW member and also serves as ITW’s Thriller Roundtable Coordinator and a contributing editor to The Big Thrill. Enjoy his list of greatest prison breaks in novels.
By J. H. Bográn
As a thriller fan, the genre has rewarded me with plenty tall tales of threats that could destroy the entire world. I’ve lived through bomb countdowns, assassins catching up with their marks, renegade terrorist factions on the verge of breaking hell loose on earth, among others scenarios.
But one of the more thrilling rides is when characters break out of prisons, some may even call them educational.
The following list is my top five of the greatest escapes found in books. At a later time I will make the equivalent list for movies, but for now, let’s concentrate on actions that can be found between bookends.
Let’s begin with a classic: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Edmund Dantés is wrongfully accused and sent to prison in the island of Château d'If. After a few years of solitary confinement, he meets a priest and they both agree to work on a tunnel as means to their ultimate salvation.
This story is not only notorious for the great escape of Dantés when he replaces the corpse of his mentor, but after the dust settles, you begin to wonder if all those years excavating the tunnel were a waste of time because—let’s face it—he didn’t escape through the tunnel now, did he?
In the world of prison breaks, no man can match the trick pulled by Sirius Black in J.K. Rowling’s third Harry Potter book, The Prisoner of Azkaban. And I mean it literally, for the title actually refers to him. (Am I the only one who at the end of Book 2 thought that the prisoner of Azkaban was the recently released Hagrid?)
Although the POV is always on Harry, we learn of Sirius’ ordeal from his own retelling of the tale.
After being incarcerated for over thirteen years, he simply transformed into a dog and squeezed through the cell bars, not even the demon guards could detect him. Now, that’s a shaggy escape. It sure does pay to be an unregistered animagi.
Even after twenty years of its publication, Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lamb remains a fixture in any top-ten list of suspense novels. A must-read which movie version grabbed the five most coveted Oscars (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Script and Best Picture).
Okay, the level of gruesomeness of this one may perhaps be in league with Master Stephen King’s, but the inventiveness alone is remarkable enough to snatch the number #3 position.
Using nothing but discarded—or rather stolen—office supplies, Hannibal Lecter picked his handcuffs. Then after a quick change of wardrobe he put on a face that allowed him to pass through the guards outside and end up in a low-security ambulance. The rest was easy.
This one is similar to number five, but with a darker twist. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a Stephen King story. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption was a novella included in the collection Different Seasons.
It took Andy Dufrasne all of twenty seven years to dig a tunnel. Not too bad considering he went through two small rock hammer, and many lovely girl posters, in the process. The final leg of his trip out of Shawshank prison was through a sewerage pipe, as he crawled amidst the worst of human’s excrement. However, at this point I better come clean and say there was no pun intended when this escape artist landed on number two.
Let’s go biblical, Acts of the Apostles.
Before people start emailing me that this book is not a work of fiction, but a true account, I admit that I agree, but Peter’s escape is so awesome I had to include it!
This divine intervention, the epitome of Deus ex machina, can be found in Acts 12: 1-11.
Peter was not only left in the deepest meanest cell with two guards by his side, he was also bound by chains. Then an angel materialized, freed Peter of his bound and led him the way out, walking through walls, no less.
Do you agree with my list? I can expand it to a Top-Ten list, so do send me your suggestions.
Oh, and thanks Joe for letting me hog the spotlight in TKZ today.
J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish.
His debut novel TREASURE HUNT, which The Celebrity Café hails as an intriguing novel that provides interesting insight of architecture and the life of a fictional thief, has also been selected as the Top Ten in Preditors & Editor’s Reader Poll.
He’s a member of The Crime Writers Association, the Short Fiction Writers Guild and the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator and contributor editor their official e-zine The Big Thrill.
Website at: www.jhbogran.com
Facebook profile: www.facebook.com/jhbogran