Four stars (of five)
Jeffrey Archer at his best in this, the second in the Clifton heptalogy, picking up where he left off. The reader learns a great deal more about some of the key characters that fill the plot lines leading into the Second World War. Harry, who took on another man’s identity after a military incident, soon learns that his gamble did not pay off and he finds himself incarcerated in New York. Harry spends that time honing his writing skills in jail and is eventually drafted into battle with US Forces. Meanwhile, Emma is a new mother and learns of Harry supposed ‘death at sea’ but refuses to believe it. She travels over the Atlantic to investigate for herself, discovering Harry’s writing and goes in search of the love of her life. While she is not able to locate him, she soon becomes is literary advocate and continues to track him down, only to discover that Harry’s been shipped off to Europe. Giles finds himself on the continent as well, fighting the Germans before he is captured and sent to a POW camp. Hugo, who’s been banished from his own family, is causing havoc and sowing his seed with another unwitting woman while still trying to plot the downfall of anyone Clifton. Maisie is his most recent target, as he tries to bully her into selling the land on which her teashop once stood. In the end, he meets his demise, but the question of Harry’s paternity takes centre-stage as the Barrington inheritance must be decided. Newly elected Labour Member of Parliament Giles Barrington watches on as the House of Lords debates the rightful heir, even though Harry wants nothing to do with it. Another stellar cliffhanger leaves Archer fans cursing, but applauding all at the same time. Wonderful continuation of the series sure to keep readers up late into the night.
Archer remains a powerful narrator and linguistic sculptor, presenting the reader with a wonderful story that expands with each passing chapter. Renewing the layered narrative approach, the reader is treated not only to numerous plot lines through the eyes of various characters, but also a powerful addition to the central story with each section. The reader may bask in the exciting set of plots on which the novel continues to build. While the story has yet to really focus on a second (or third) generation, Archer had laid the groundwork for this and has a number of storylines ready to blossom. Patience, eager reader, as I am sure it all comes to pass soon.
Kudos Lord Archer for this powerful piece of work. Keep building and you will surely capture the hearts and minds of many more readers before too long.