Title: A Turnkey Or Not?
Author: Tony Levy
Publisher: Apex Publishing Ltd
No. of pages: 250
Synopsis (from Amazon):
A chance meeting on holiday in Majorca changed Tony Levy s life forever and launched him into a 25-year career in a job that he never would ve considered previously: working in Her Majesty s Prison Service. This book catalogues Tony s personal experiences of working as a prison officer, from his early days at high-security HMP Pentonville to his final years in therapy-based HMP Grendon. Filled with interesting observations and incidences, hilarious wind-ups and memorable characters, this autobiography is the story of a journey, from the happiest days in what will always be a potentially volatile environment to a complete state of disillusionment as an old dinosaur that no longer fitted into the modern prison service world. Tony gives an honest account of his feelings, as someone who would never be a yes man and toe the party line, in the face of a constantly changing environment that had become increasingly controlled by political correctness gone mad and by budgetary needs rather than human needs. He was a man who cared, and even though his heart was sucked out of his job, he never lost his dignity or respect. Most importantly, he would never allow himself to be reduced to just a turnkey.
A Turnkey Or Not?is a humorous and frank autobiography by an ex-prison officer. As my Dad has been a prison officer in the Scottish Prison Service for 25 years, I thought I might find it interesting… and I was right! It’s an insightful, often surprising look at life on the outside of the bars, but inside the prison system and I loved it!
Levy’s professional life has been filled with quirky characters (and I actually feel he is one of them!) and his anecdotes are, more often than not, touched with a fondness for those featuring in this story of his work, and where friendly feelings have not been evident, he has been respectful and mindful of how others might take his revelations, giving nicknames and pseudonyms at every point.
Reading this book, I almost felt like I was meeting all his colleagues in person and I found I could picture them, hear their voices and join in their camaraderie as each chapter unfolded, and I progressed with them all, moving from one prison and position in the hierarchy to the next. Really, I almost felt like I was sitting having a coffee with an old friend who was recounting the more interesting episodes he had experienced and seeing the twinkle in Levy’s eye as he jests, then the more serious expressions as the tide turns.
Whether or not you know anyone who has ever been a prison officer, I think this has a broad appeal that should leave most readers feeling satisfied and entertained. It’s definitely well worth picking up.
Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite