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Tony Levy 

The Autobiography of Tony Levy 

Reviews of A Turnkey or Not?

Amazon website

Tony Levy has some great memories to relate in this book - a prison officer's memoir. Twenty five years of service are laid bare as Tony makes his way through the prison system. He was never a yes man and he appears forthright and outspoken as he deals with his superiors, hating bullying and nepotism, rife in the service. But it is his memories which are golden. When a visiting governor on an adjudication board has a twitch and wink he can't control, opportunity for humour presents itself. It is hilarious when a prisoner thinks he is onto a good thing and returns these 'winks'. Another episode when Tony goes punting on the river with a colleague and falls in and then appears semi naked in a toilet with this same colleague are laugh out loud funny. Another time Tony finds himself swimming in his underpants at a luxury hotel, only to find himself returning to his room with only a towel around his waist and having to pass though a room full of men in tuxedoes, women in ball gowns and the Mayor in tow too in full regalia. Although about the prison service these are Tony's memories of his special life and not much is said of the prisoners - their privacy is maintained. In that, it is unlike for example Jeffrey Archer's books 'Hell', 'Purgatory' and 'Heaven', where as a criminal himself Archer talks about his own class of person. This is Tony's life and we learn a lot about him as a man. We learn what the prison service does to him, but how ultimately it gives him a good send off when he retires.

Here's what a daughter of a prison officer thinks of it...

By Mrs K. A. Smurthwaite "Kell" (Aberdeen, Scotland)

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.

5.0 out of 5 stars A Turnkey or Not? 30 Dec 2011

By ravah - an absolute fascinating insight to the world of the prison service through the eyes of a long serving prison officer. The story was well written and easy to follow. The light humour that ran throughout the whole book reflected the character Mr Levy must have been during his time in the prison service. For a first book his writing skills are spot on. Mr Levy should now consider maybe writing another book. Well done. Enjoyed reading this book and it is the sort of book you do not want to put down. A MUST BUY.

5.0 out of 5 stars A Turnkey or Not? Tony Levy, 24 Dec 2011

By Whitto! - Tony's autobiography of his twenty five years in Her Majesty's Prison Service is a gripping read from start to finish. I almost read the whole book in one sitting, showing just how interesting it is. I left the Prison Service nearly ten years ago for similar reasons that Tony highlights in his book. It gives the outsider an interesting perspective of what actually does go on behind the locked gates and high walls surrounding our prisons, instead of the hype and spin that various other agencies want the public to believe. It highlights just how the staff are looked upon and treated by senior managers and the necessary support of friends and colleagues in some very traumatic circumstances. An emotional rollercoaster, having you laughing out loud at some anecdotes and also sad at the tragedies that can happen during life in prison. Tony gives a balanced view, also highlighting incidents from a prisoner’s perspective too.

If you only read one book this year, make it this one, you will not be disappointed.

5.0 out of 5 stars Happy memories, 22 Dec 2011

By Turnkey -: A Turnkey or Not (Kindle Edition)

After just retiring from the prison service after serving for 31 years I can only say that Mr Levy has done a superb job of putting pen to paper.

This well written book brings back so many vivid memories of my own time in the service. I would recommend this book to anyone either in the service or not. If you are new to the service this book will give you a great insight as to what we dinosaurs had to go through and the kind of wind-ups you will never have the chance to do these days due to being political correct.

If you have never worked in the service and would like to see what being a prison officer is all about, this book is a must.

Well done Mr Levy, and thank you for bringing back so many memories. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read: A Turnkey or Not? 22 Dec 2011

By Gitana - A Turnkey or Not? (Paperback)

Having been closely associated with the police force for over 20 years, I was intrigued to learn more of the life behind the prison walls. A Turnkey or Not? answered many questions and provided a fascinating insight into the political and working arena of a prison officer's life. An interesting read, sprinkled with humour, but highlights the sad reflection of how so-called progress evolves into backward steps. A lesson to learn!

5.0 out of 5 Stars Greg Harris's review May 01, 12

Recommended to Greg by

Recommended for: Everybody

Read from April 27 to 29, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: twice

This is a must read for everybody not just those actually involved in the Criminal Justice System of the United Kingdom.

It reveals to one and all that prison officers are everyday people doing a job most would never consider. It gives great insight and heartfelt admissions to how the service was run and how politics have evolved to be the major factor in the running of our penal establishments.

Tony gives his honest feelings about how he felt working within this very intimidating environment. The book does not glorify the goings on within the walls but more about the type of characters needed to run our penal establishments.

It is also a story of his journey from new officer to manager and the changes that take place during his journey.

Many former staff will see themselves through Tony’s eye’s and say ‘that’s was me!’

A darn good read. I really enjoyed the style of the writer and it was easy to read and I just couldn't put it down. A great holiday read

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