Blog tour: 26 to 30 October 2020
She was sent down …
Cara Lockhart has just commenced a life sentence in HMP North Fern – the newest maximum security women’s prison in the country. She was convicted of a crime she is adamant she didn’t commit.
She was set up …
One morning she wakes up to find her cellmate murdered – shot in the head with a gun that is missing. The door was locked all night, which makes Cara the only suspect.
But that was just the beginning.
Cara needs to clear her name, unravelling an impossible case, with an investigation governed by a prison timetable.
But as Cara starts to learn more about North Fern and the predicament she is in, she finds connections between the past and present that she never could have imagined.
Indeed it seems that her conviction and her current situation might be linked in very strange ways …
When Cara-Jane Lockhart, a 23-year-old prisoner serving a life sentence, is transferred from New Hall prison in Wakefield to North Fern in Buckinghamshire, she’s rather surprised to find herself at a new, futuristic prison that has its own rules and regulations.
At North Fern, prisoners wear Cuffs, which are like ID cards with a built-in tracker and allow them access to some areas and restrict where they can go. If the prisoners stray somewhere they shouldn’t, they get an electric shock. The prison guards also wear Cuffs.
The prison has impressive, state-of-the-art facilities and, rather than actual windows, there are multiple screens on the ceiling that show images of the sky. There are no clocks or any indication of time passing. Rather than time outside, the women have periods of illumination where the natural light system is turned on. The exercise yard is actually indoors and like a sports hall with mats and equipment, a wooden floor and gym equipment. It all feels like a bizarre social experiment.
The women aren’t allowed to have visitors, due to the seriousness of their crimes, but they can receive letters and small parcels from their families and friends. Movie night on Saturdays is compulsory and a rather repetitive event.
Cara was nicknamed ‘The Butcher’ at New Hall and her reputation has followed her to North Fern. She’s very wary of the other women and has a few run ins but soon makes friends with her cellmate, Stephanie Barnard, and the two women get into a routine and support each other.
When she wakes up one morning to find her cellmate dead, with a bullet hole in her forehead, Cara is horrified and protests her innocence. It seems futile with the overwhelming evidence against her – the pair were in a locked cell together and, despite a 12-second blank period in the camera feed, the systems prove that no one else had any access to the room.
As Cara is marched into an isolation cell, she’s left alone with her thoughts and decides that she needs to be strong and work out exactly what’s going on. There’s something really off about the prison but she has to remain calm and not give up, and work out the whys and hows of the situation and find the murder weapon if she has any hope of proving her innocence.
At first, there seems to be no reason why Cara has been set up but, as we learn more about past events, everything becomes clearer and there were some good twists and turns and a few aha moments!
I’m a big fan of books set in prisons and this was certainly a bit different and even more claustrophobic than your average establishment. Cara seemed the ultimate unreliable narrator – I was never sure if she was imagining things, lying or telling the truth. I wanted to like her but the crime she was convicted of was horrific and she seemed strangely detached from reality at times.
Overall, I really enjoyed Inside Out – it was entertaining, cleverly plotted and had a gripping storyline. Once I’d got into the story, I was frantically turning the pages to see how the main protagonist was going to get out of her impossible predicament. There were some interesting characters and I was never really sure who could be trusted. I had to suspend belief at times but that was all part of the charm!
I’ve already got the author’s other books, Guess Who and Now You See Me, on my Kindle and I’ll be checking them out soon!
Buy the book
Inside Out by Chris McGeorge can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.
About the author
Chris McGeorge is a graduate of MA Creative Writing (crime/thriller) from City University London where he wrote debut thriller, Guess Who, as his thesis. He told stories from an early age, writing and drawing comics and then scripts and finally novels. He loves Golden Age crime and gets incredibly excited about anything a little out of the ordinary. In his spare time, he is an actor with Durham Dramatic Society.
He lives in Durham with his hamster, Agatha Christie.
Thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou at Orion Publishing for my copy of Inside Out and for my place on the blog tour.
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