Four stars (of five)
Archer builds on his heptalogy with a fifth volume that does not disappoint. When the story ended, the IRA had set a bomb to explode aboard the MV Buckingham, its explosion rocking the vessel. The reader soon learns that the explosion took place overboard and the damage only minimal. Emma Clifton and the rest of the board of Barrington Shipping must handle the situation and keep the public from learning of the terrorist plot. Emma struggles at the helm of Barrington, with some on the board calling for her immediate dismissal as chairman, especially as many passengers begin to question the story offered up. Even with her son, Sebastian, on the board, Emma’s day may be numbered, thanks to an old nemesis. Not to wither in the shadows, Harry Clifton has been elected president of English PEN, allowing him a strong voice to call for the release of fellow author, Anatoly Babakov, held in a Siberian gulag for writing a raw and uncensored novel about Joseph Stalin. Harry will risk it all, including his own life, to free this man and protect free speech at any cost. The ever-evolving Giles Barrington is firmly rooted in the House of Commons and has a seat in the Cabinet. However, a moment of weakness while in East Germany costs him everything, and leaves the door wide open for his long-time nemesis, Major Alex Fisher, to challenge him for his seat during General Election. Plotting to bring down the Cliftons and Barringtons, Fisher continues to work with Lady Virginia Fenwick and a new member of the trifecta to dismantle the family, one member at a time. Sebastian presents a strong second generation in the novel, wrestling to keep his personal relationship with his girlfriend, Sam, from deteriorating. Sebastian has climbed his way up in the banking industry, but shows a cut-throat side when doing business. Archer brings the novel to its climax with two legal battles that could have major implications for everyone involved in the series. Not to stray from his usual style, Archer presents set of cliffhangers lure the writer in and sate them for the inevitable wait until the next instalment hits bookstands.
Captivating seems like such an understatement for this series, in which Archer keeps finding new ways to pull the reader in and beg for more information on the Cliftons and Barringtons. Archer appears able to juggle the many storylines he’s create and gives them the much needed attention to allow each character to flourish. As characters cross paths and intertwine, the story branches off repeatedly and only gets better. This is classic Jeffrey Archer!
And now we wait! I chose to devour the first five novels consecutively, which entertained me thoroughly. However, once the rush began, I could not stop the momentum and now am dangling on the edge, waiting to see what Archer will do, along with millions of other fans. Alas, I will be as patient as I can, searching for nuggets of information about the penultimate novel.
Kudos, Lord Archer for another stellar piece of work. I am truly eager to see what next you have for readers and curse the time it takes to get a book through to publication.