Nelder, Geoff - 'Escaping Reality'
Gerald Ricketts is making an innocent trip to a jewellers to buy earrings for his wife when a robbery takes place leaving the jeweller dead and Gerald with pocketfuls of diamonds. Unfortunately Gerald didn't kill anyone and doesn't know how the jewels got onto his person. But quick as a flash he's banged up for ten years and sent to an assessment prison, Stonelodge, in the north of England.
Gerald decided the only thing to do is to escape from prison and clear his name and luckily for him the prison librarian Wendy is willing to help him, based on the promise of a new life together when he is cleared.
Masquerading as a decorator Gerald escapes the building and starts the long haul to freedom. Having to abandon the decorator's van he uses feet, a rickety brake-less bicycle and finally a bus to reach the Cumbrian coastal town of Maryport where he begins his quest in earnest to prove his innocence. Information gleaned from local criminals sends him on to Amsterdam to find the man he believes is behind his frame-up, but he still doesn't know who to trust.
ESCAPING REALITY is a very entertaining read and witty throughout and should produce a number of chuckles. As a bonus it's quite illuminating if you ever want to become a squatter and establish a new identity for yourself.
The pace is a little uneven with several chapters devoted to Gerald trudging across Kielder Forest which slows the action down. Once Gerald sets up his base in Maryport he begins to acquire information about who is behind the stitch-up and it feels that Gerald is actually getting somewhere. The second half of the book is much more action packed and exciting, especially the episode in Amsterdam. Aside from the slightly dragging section and some unlikely amorous activity this is a well-written suspenseful novel with a sympathetic and humorous main character.
Karen Meek, England