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JAIL SENTENCES; It's an inside job as crime novelists top the best-read list for Scotland's prisoners.

Byline: Norman Silvester

Crime writer Martina Cole has found a captive audience - prison inmates.

A two-year study in Scotland's jails has revealed Martina's hard-boiled underworld books feature prominently in the top 10 most read.

The Essex author's 2013 Revenge is the most popular read in Glasgow's tough Barlinnie.

Her other books about London's gangsters, including The Take and Hard Girls, are also among the most borrowed at Barlinnie, Grampian, Kilmarnock and Perth prisons.

A prison source said: "It's hardly surprising prisoners enjoy reading Martina Cole books.

"Many of them have had a lifetime of crime and it's what they understand best - even if it is fiction."

Author Lee Child, the creator of the Jack Reacher series, American thriller writer James Patterson and former SAS soldier Andy McNab also feature in the top 10.

The study also revealed classics including The Trial by Franz Kafka, Charles Dickens's David Copperfield, Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Orwell's Animal Farm were also popular with Scotland's 8000 inmates.

Self-help books on how to play the guitar, drive, stop smoking and yoga were also much in demand.

Readingfiguresfor this year and last year were released by the Scottish Prison Service following a freedom of information request.

While the appeal of crime authors is easy to see, some popular reading matter is hard to understand. Vet Bruce Fogle's Caring for Your Dog was the second most popular book at Glenochil jail in Clackmannanshire - even though inmates can't keep pets.

A book about Buddhism was the No1 read at Low Moss, near Glasgow.

And at high-security Shotts in Lanarkshire, prisoners might be doing a bit of wishful thinking with their favourite - The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Swedish author Jonas Jonasson.

At Grampian jail in Peterhead, one of the top 10 best sellers was the appropriately named Honour Among Thieves by Jeffrey Archer - the former jailbird and top Tor y.

Books by celebrity criminals like Charles Bronson and Paul Ferris were also well read.

A Scottish Prison Service spokeswoman said: "Our libraries are well stocked and we actively encourage prisoners to develop and improve their reading skills."


THE CROOK CLUB Low Moss jail and, right, some of the inmates' top books

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 13, 2015
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