In one moment at work as a prison guard, Anson’s life as he knew it changed. Now, he’s moving from Michigan to Texas, looking for a fresh start and stepping it up to work at a maximum-security prison that includes prisoners on death row. Anson has no idea what is in store for him, but he’s looking for a new life and he has no plans to make any mistakes.
Bishop has been in prison for almost two decades. In trying to help, he wound up in the wrong place at the exact wrong time and death row is now his home. No one believed his truth and he had no choice but to conform to prison life and hope is a word he no longer understands. Until a new prison guard arrives who could change everything.
Anson and Bishop have a startling bond from their first meeting. Bishop intrigues Anson as he doesn’t see the same look of a killer in Bishop’s eyes as he is used to seeing with other inmates. Stolen moments of conversation are all they have and the men further bond through their love of classic books. When that bond turns into deep feelings, Anson offers Bishop the only things he can in the way of friendship and compassion, something Bishop has not had nearly enough of, if at all. Anson knows he is the only hope Bishop has of ever being a free man again, but the men know that time is not on their side and death row is calling.
I have read many books by Nicky James and she has a way of pulling out the toughest emotions and layering them for an intense buildup. Anson is making huge changes in his life as he moved to another state, bought a house without seeing it in person, and accepted a job at one of the most extreme prisons. An incident at the last prison he worked at made it unsafe for him to return there and, although he knows he is in for a difficult time, he is looking forward to a change of scenery.
The book takes place mostly at the prison with a few glimpses of Anson working on his new home. Anson has never gotten close to a prisoner before, but Bishop is different from the start. The story is told solely from Anson’s point of view, so we see Bishop as Anson does, as Bishop has no choice but to follow the strictest of rules on death row. Anson becomes curious of Bishop’s story and, against his own better judgment, he reads the public details on Bishop’s case and the additional information lures him in further.
I had to go with their initial bonding a little bit as the men discuss classic literature during Anson’s overnight shifts. I get there were not many ways they would be able to bond, but this felt a little forced for me here. And, I also had to go with Anson becoming so invested in Bishop’s story so quickly and then going all in for Bishop almost as quickly.
Bishop’s story is interesting and certainly held my attention, as did the intensity that was built up as the story progressed. There becomes a literal race against time, and for the men to be together of course one thing had to happen, but if Bishop’s sentence was finally carried out, there could never be a chance for the men and the moment there are no bars or walls between them is just the beginning. This book is Inside, and the next book is Outside and I’m looking forward to a front row seat for the next chapters in their lives and how Bishop and Anson will face the unexpected difficulties that will inevitably be coming their way.