Book Review: The Most Notorious Jailbreakers

Book Name: The Most Notorious Jailbreakers

Author: Abeer Kapoor

Publisher: Rupa

Genre: Non-fiction

Rating: 5/5

Book Blurb: Did you know Sher Singh Rana, Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi’s killer, walked out of prison with his friends dressed up like the police officers who were to escort him to Roorkee for his hearing? India’s most notorious conman, Natwarlal, who was sentenced for an incredible 113 years by various courts, promised to pay a police officer a large amount of money if he helped him to escape after which the entire bundle of cash just caught fire all by itself.

In The Most Notorious Jailbreakers, journalist Abeer Kapoor helps you meet some really ‘infamous’ people, all of them criminals, who have escaped the gated walls of prisons all over India. From a math and computer teacher who is actually a rapist on parole, to a backward caste gangster famous for his bloodshedding escapade, and a former PM of a princely state who will do anything to con the authorities; Abeer pieces together the escape plans of 16 such notorious convicts who gave authorities hell, every time.

Review: The Most Notorious Jailbreakers recounts the stories and the myths surrounding some of the biggest names in the criminal world.

The book is compiled well and tracks down the histories of hardened criminals like Charles Sobhraj and Natwarlal (can any such book be complete without Natwarlal?)

“Sixty per cent of all prisoners given bail jump it and vanish. Most police officers do not follow-up and the laws against those who help in the jumping of parole are easily circumvented. Bitti was on of the 60 per cent who disappear from the face of the planet.”

Abeer Kapoor, given his journalism background, narrates in an easy but focused manner. The book is a breezy read and extremely well researched. The unholy nexus between authorities and criminals and the obvious shortcoming of an understaffed prison system are also well documented.

The book covers some recent cases such as the high profile Biti Mohanty case and that of Sher Singh Rana. Older cases such as that of Mir Laik Ali and Daniel Hailey Walcott Jr. make for an interesting read. The cases have been selected carefully (it seems) giving the book a nice and easy blend of new and old.

The downside of this book is that its very short. This could have been explored as a bigger book, given that its theme is appealing. Abeer’s writing is strong and he can manage to hold the attention of a reader.

Each story reads like a short film and this should be developed into a bigger project. At the end of the book, the reader is left wanting more.

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