Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Cocaine Diaries: A Venezuelan Prison Nightmare” as Want to Read:
The Cocaine Diaries: A Venezuelan Prison Nightmare
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Cocaine Diaries: A Venezuelan Prison Nightmare

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  929 ratings  ·  40 reviews

'It won't happen to me. That's what I thought when I got on the plane to Venezuela. But it did - I got caught.'

Caught smuggling half a million euros' worth of cocaine, Paul Keany was sexually assaulted by Venezuelan anti-drugs officers before being sentenced to eight years in the notorious Los Teques prison outside Caracas. There he was plunged into a nightmarish world

Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 1st 2013 by Mainstream Publishing (first published June 7th 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Cocaine Diaries, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Cocaine Diaries

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  929 ratings  ·  40 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Cocaine Diaries: A Venezuelan Prison Nightmare
♥ Marlene♥
Just finished the book this morning and to my surprise I can say I loved it!

Over the last few years I have read a few books about being imprisoned in scary foreign prisons. So far I loved just one book out of the Five books:
Well I am happy to tell you there are now 2 great books about being imprisoned that I can recommend.

The books I have read so far are:

Bali 9 The Untold Story by Cindy Wockner 2 stars

Escape The true story of the only Westerner ever to break out of Thailand's Bangkok Hilton by David McMillan 1 star

The Damage Done Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison by Warren Fellows 2 stars

Tien jaar achter Thaise tralies by Machiel Kuijt 1 star

Levenslang in Thailand by Pedro Ruijzing 5 stars!

As you can see most books are about people who were imprisoned in Thailand.

Reading this
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
The writing was atrocious. I get it, he's a plumber not a writer, but apparently a journalist helped him put it together which is a bit sad. This book needed some serious editing. I really struggled to maintain interest in this and toyed with the idea of not even finishing it many times.

I'm on the fence with this one. There were a few inconsistencies that made me question the books content. When he is first imprisoned and speaks to his daughter on the phone he wrote that it was the last time he
Conrad Mason
Jul 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Found this book had a great start and a really interesting. Unfortunately it got a bit repetitive and lost its way abit in the middle. Had a good ending. All in all though a great insight into what it would be like to be imprisoned in Venuzeula and the inhumane conditions they are forced to live in
Danial Tanvir
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
i really liked this book very much,
i actually bought it from a small book shop in bangkok,thailand and i read it one day.
it was a fun read.

it is about a man called paul keany who goes to venezuela and he is carrying a lot of cocaine worth a lot of money and in the start of the journey he thinks that he will not get caught doing so but he did caught doing it and he had seen programs of people getting caught doing this in thailand and other countries etc.
he is finally sent to jail and he is
Maria Rosa
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I worked in parole and probation for 3 years in Caracas and this book is a pretty accurate description of how prisons and court systems and police (dys)function in Venezuela.
Sorry Mr. Keany has such a generalised negative view of all of us (Venezuelans), but those are his feelings and I think he has written a very honest recount of his experience.
Good job of surviving and getting out Mr. Keany! Congratulations for having produced something positive out of it.
I dont give it five stars just
Hannah Martin
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
If I was rating this book based solely on the writing style I'd have to give it 3 stars, but I'm not. The book was honest and created clear mental images. It creates a bond between you and the main character from which you want him to succeed. You learn about a world you wouldn't normally see and it's dark, emotional and fascinating.

It's an easy read & I'd recommend it if you're interested in jail/drug culture.
Donald Pryde
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great book, love reading books about foreigners in third world hell hole prisons.
Erik Surewaard
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started to read to book and it immediately reminded me of an episode of “Locked Up Abroad” titled “Venezuela Hustle” I only recently watched:

I started to doubt whether to continue reading. What’s the use when you already know what is going to happen. But I decided to read on and see how it compares to the TV episode.

Well... I can tell you this book is way way more interesting than the TV episode! The story was just very great to read! A lot of things happen
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A captivating read about what happens when a 45 year old man from Ireland tries to make fast money buy smuggling some kilos of cocaine into Venezuela. The saying "the animals are running the zoo" could never be truer.
Keany reveals the true horror of life inside Los Teques: a shocking underworld behind bars where inmates pay protection money to stay alive, prostitutes do the rounds, and vast amounts of cocaine are smuggled in for cell-block bosses to sell on to prisoners for huge profits.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book was average at best which is crazy because a journalist apparently helped him write it. There are inconsistencies in the story at times, it is hard to understand the layout of the prison and who is who as the characters mostly aren’t described in any attention grabbing way. Some sentences and or paragraphs were just totally grammatically incorrect or incoherent and it annoyed me because I put a lot of time into reading it and I wanted it to be a half decent read.
Brian Trinder
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I have read about the Cocaine trade, and what an eye opener. It was easy to read and I couldn't put it down. Thanks to the author's diaries it is a thorough review of his experience as a drug mule. Highly recommended.
Caio Malufe
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that makes you go “I can’t believe this is real!!!” ... I loved it, and the amazing stories lived by this man are even hard to picture or imagine, and (like mentioned in other reviews) bring a new perspective to be thankful about the lives we have
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read

I really enjoyed this book, it was very well written, obviously some parts were difficult to read due to their nature but still a great account life in a foreign jail. If you enjoyed marching powder, a prayer before dawn or midnight express then this is for you.
Hugh Sheehy
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent Read. Couldnt wait to pick it up every night. Written in a sometimes irreverent but still very convincing manner which made it easy to read yet very believable.
Steve Parcell
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
It was interesting book although a little basic in style and language.

Well worth a read though if you are interested in the genre.
Demi Noakes
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book was interesting but not attention grabbing. I found it hard to keep up with the layout of the prison, which made the story hard to follow with what was going on.
Kait O'Callahan
Nov 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Not my usual sort of book but I enjoyed it
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Pretty good, I enjoyed it. Scary how real it is, I couldn't imagine.... Highly recommend again.
Jill Meyer
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don’t judge

Loved this book. Well written, easy to read. Although a dumb decision, what happened to these people is completely unacceptable and horrific.
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a good book. Saw it on the new shelf at the library, and thought it looked interesting.
First off, it's gritty as hell, but there's real humanity in it. You will have a strong opinion about several things one way or the other after you read this. The basic idea is, do not, under any circumstances, go to prison in Venezuela. That's the short version I'll stick with, because a review shouldn't be a synopsis.
I enjoyed the writing style and pace. It moves fast, and you can definitely
Jun 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: physical-books
Well easy way out doesn't always do the trick.

I liked it but won't say it's a wonderful book. An eye opener and a good read to know what happens inside corrupted prisons. I suppose this happens in many places in the world.

The writing isn't on the higher end. After all it was written by a plumber who thought his life will end at any given moment. He still manages to tell us what happens to you out there if you're totally out of your mind to agree for a drug smuggle. I wouldn't say it's the best
Mikey P
Nov 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you have read and enjoyed Marching Powder, the next logical step would be to read the cocaine diaries. This book may not be perfectly written but it is the content that really holds the audience. If you have an interest in prison life and crime, south american corruption or true stories that grip you and make you think about the world we live in, it's definitely worth a read. I think I felt compelled to read on as I currently live in Dublin, the birthplace of the protagonist, which he often ...more
This is no Marching Powder. Is that too harsh? What I find most frustrating was the poor level of writing which did little to keep me engaged. I would look up mid-chapter and realise I'd barely understood what I'd just read. It's frustrating because I think this could have been such a terrific story from someone who lived through an incredible - and relatively lucky - experience. It says this was co-written with a journalist but did he just correct the typos? I really wanted so much more ...more
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A good read! An eye opener for someone who wanted to know more about the jail system in Venezuela. Before reading this book, I didn't even know that such a horrible prison system exists in this part of the world, with prisoners carrying their own arms, and the need to arm themselves to the teeth with weapons such a automatic rifle and grenade launcher.

In conclusion, the Author is able to bring out the details that happened during his stay in the prison and translate it into an exciting book to
Isabella Roland
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
I did not care for this book at all. The main reason is not the story. I believe it's the writer's voice. He's not able to make me feel invested or worried about him. There's something that's just off about this book and I cannot put my finger on it. I'm very into prison reads, but this one just didn't do it for me.
Wilde Sky
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A man is caught smuggling drugs in Venezuela and ends up in a notorious prison.

I found the writing in this book wasn’t that good but the tale of corruption / incompetence / brutality was gripping. Oddly I didn’t feel any real sympathy for the prisoner.

A definite read (as a warning) for anyone stupid enough to agree to smuggle drugs for someone they met in a pub.
Crispin Francis
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Hmm. I hate the title, I only picked this up because I saw it had a decent amount of reviews. I'm glad I did. Was a great read, shocking truths about this man's journey through the corrupt Venezuelan prison system (the whole system is corrupt - not just the prisons).
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it
I'd already read a similar style book and this book lacked an emotional involvement with the character. It was very descriptive but not about how he felt so I didn't get very invested. I've you've never read a similar book it will certainly be an eye opener and worth a read.
Michal Dufek
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is really type of book I love. In the story you are provided with real information. Reading the book you are amused and at the same time you are gaining knowledge. I had to keep myself from the book otherwise i would read it just in one day.
Peter Kampjes
An interesting read that confirms lots of rumors about South American prisons. The writing style conveys the veracity of the stories well and has you rooting for him to escape the madness at the end.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Hotel Kerobokan
  • Snowing in Bali
  • Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail
  • The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison
  • A Prayer Before Dawn: A Nightmare In Thailand
  • American Desperado: My Life--From Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to Secret Government Asset
  • Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton
  • Operation Playboy
  • Colombiano
  • No More Tomorrows: The Compelling True Story of an Innocent Woman Sentenced to Twenty Years in a Hellhole Bali Prison
  • Banged Up Abroad: Hellhole: Our Fight to Survive South America's Deadliest Jail
  • Hard Time: Banged Up Abroad Raving Arizona
  • Miss Bangkok: Memoirs of a Thai Prostitute
  • NARCO X: God created man, man created ecstasy, and I made it for the CIA
  • The Happiest Refugee
  • Girl for Sale: The shocking true story from the girl trafficked and abused by Oxford’s evil sex ring
  • My Mother, a Serial Killer
  • Michael Jordan: The Life
See similar books…
“Merry Christmas me bollocks. The words of the Pogues's 'Fairytale of New York' also came to mind: surrounded by scumbags and maggots, I prayed God it would be my last in Los Teques.” 1 likes
More quotes…