Neil MacLean at a book signing for his first book ‘Serving Life 25’. (File photo)

Neil MacLean at a book signing for his first book ‘Serving Life 25’. (File photo)

Harrison author releases second book on B.C. prisons

Neil MacLean’s ‘Beyond the Gates of Hell’ looks into the lives of inmates in local prisons

A local author and former corrections officer has published his second book on B.C. crime.

“They’re not your bedtime stories for children, that’s for sure,” Neil MacLean said.

MacLean’s new book Beyond the Gates of Hell: The Untold Stories is the second book the Harrison resident has written. His first, Serving Life 25, focused on his career as a corrections officer and was started as a form of therapy after his retirement.

“I really kind of got hooked on it,” he said about writing. “Once you get your meat hooks into a story, it can be quite exciting.”

RELATED: Agassiz man writes tell-all about career in corrections

Beyond the Gates of Hell looks beyond the work of correctional officers and dives into the crimes that landed many offenders into local prisons.

Stories include the killing of Steveston Chief Constable Alexander Main at the turn of the century by a man who was known as the “Canton Giant,” the murder of six young children by their father, the life of a transgender woman who did 33 years behind bars for violence, and more.

“Some of the stories are pretty horrendous, and very troubling from a human standpoint,” MacLean said. “But I wanted to demonstrate what correctional officers have to work with every day.”

One story has local connections as well: the murder of Joe Philliponi, the founder of Vancouver’s Penthouse club, in 1983.

“What I found really enthralling was it had ties to the Italian mob, prostitution, movie stars, the dirty ’30s and prohibition, murder and prison life,” MacLean said. “But what was also interesting was some of the players all lived in Harrison Hot Springs.”

Beyond the Gates of Hell will be available as an ebook through Kindle and Kobo, and print copies will also be available through Amazon and local pharmacies in limited numbers.

SEE ALSO: Kent prison employees invited to anniversary gathering

“Without being able to do author readings, they’ll just be sitting in my office,” he explained.

Beyond the Gates of Hell isn’t the last book for MacLean. He has two more in the works: one on prison riots in B.C. and the other an encyclopedia of Canadian crime focusing on what he calls the “top echelon of Canadian criminals.”

“It’s become a retirement project (and) it’s become kind of an obsession,” he said.

“I think people like true crime stories. I hope people will enjoy it.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A sign at the entrance of a dike trail. (Laurens van Vliet/Contributed)
LETTER: Please be respectful to landowners adjacent to Agassiz dikes

Laurens van Vliet asks people on dikes to be respectful of the farms around them

The Kimber family of Boston Bar lost their home in a fire. Blaine Kimber’s daughter created a fundraiser to help rebuild the home with the goal of $100,000. (Screenshot/GoFundMe)
Fundraiser created for Boston Bar family that lost everything in weekend fire

Witnesses say the Kimber family escaped the fire without injury, but their home is a total loss

Part of Kent’s diking system as it passes through private property off Tramner Road. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
LETTER: Dikes and farms have a long history in Agassiz

Agassiz resident Barbara Key shares her history with dikes and farms in Agassiz

Books. (Unsplash)
LIBRARY: Who decides what makes a good book?

Agassiz librarian Sharie Hertzog shares what she thinks makes a good book in her latest column

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Most Read