Monday, June 14, 2010

And Thereby Hangs a Tale – Jeffrey Archer

If a blind test was to be conducted by hiding the asterisks in this collection, it would be difficult to guess which of these fifteen short stories are based on real incidents. However, when one reaches the all-important twist that Archer is renowned for, the overriding thought is, 'So what?'
A loss adjuster solves a crime by studying womens' footwear. An archives clerk attempts to live up to the glory of his forefathers using a clause. A man of modest means steals the diamond ring his beloved has set her heart on. It takes many years and a war for a golfer to finally be accepted as member of an elite golf club.
A deal with the devil ends - if there is such a thing – in a predictable twist. A poignant love story ends up being a socialite romance that suffers from too much detail - perhaps because it is set in India?
One would be more forgiving if this was the work of a lesser writer. But this is Archer, the consummate story teller who has five short story collections to his credit, not to mention fifteen novels. Perhaps these were stories that didn't make it to a previous collection - the less intricate, less riveting and on the whole, a little behind the times. 

(An edited version was published in Inbox 1305's June 2010 Issue.)

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