Best Kept Secret (Clifton Chronicles #3), by Jeffrey Archer

Four stars (of five)

Jeffrey Archer forges ahead in the Clifton heptalogy, keeping volume three full of excitement and intrigue. After an eventful vote in the House of Lords on the Barrington family fortune, Harry and Emma are able to move forward with their lives, intertwined as one. They seek to expand their family in a not so traditional manner, perfectly suited for this Archer tale. Giles Barrington continues his life as a Member of Parliament and faces a tough Conservative candidate when the election is called. Alex Fisher has returned and seeks to dethrone the Labour MP, going so far as to attempt to rig the election results. Fisher has been working with Lady Virginia to bring down Giles and his family by whatever means possible. The next generation of Cliftons is ready to step out on their own, namely Sebastian Arthur Clifton son of Harry and Emma. Sebastian’s life is filled with ups and downs as he tries to finish school. With a scholarship to Cambridge awaiting him, Sebastian gets mixed up in some unsavoury business, unbeknownst to him. After the Clifton and Barrington families work together to spoil a laundering ring, they place themselves in the crosshairs of a powerful criminal, who is only too happy to wreak havoc at every turn. Ending with another great cliffhanger, Archer weaves an ever-evolving tale sure to keep the reader begging for the next novel to sate their curiosity.

Archer continues to create a wonderful story, filled with fabulous characters. The plot lines evolve throughout and the characters fit so nicely into Archer’s master plan. While some authors who pen multi-generational series lose the reader in a plethora of characters and too many plot lines, Archer reins both in while keeping the excitement level high. The fate of the Cliftons and Barringtons remains a mystery as Archer moves forward, which only adds to the series’ greatness.

Kudos, Lord Archer for another stellar piece of work.

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Terminal (Virals #5), by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

Four stars (of five)

As the Virals series comes to an end, Reichs-squared pack all the power of the previous novels into this final instalment. At the end of the previous novel, the Virals learned that they were not the only infected pack in town. This new group, Trinity, has ties to a former classmate of Tory Brennan’s, Chance Claybourne, whose earlier goal was to discover the secret behind the Virals and out them. It’s Trinity versus Virals, with a single pack set to survive, at least until their super-virus cripples their everyday lives. Can Tory and the Virals bring a happy ending to this story, or will Trinity take over Morris Island, wiping the cast of protagonists off the map? Reichs-squared end things on a very interesting note, sure to entertain followers of the series.

Having navigated through the entire series, I have been trying not to compare it to James Patterson’s Maximum Ride collection. Both series are unique, though have strong leading females, who guide their respective collection through thick and thin. While the novels are nowhere nearly as exciting as the Temperance Brennan books, they prove entertaining and thought provoking, with just enough spice to keep the story from getting too lame. I am sad to see the series end, though it has served a decent purpose and kept things interesting for a number of years.

Kudos, Mr. and Dr. Reichs for this wonderful collection. Young and full-fledged adults alike should appreciate all the effort that’s been put in.

The Sins of the Father (Clifton Chronicles #2), by Jeffrey Archer

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.

Only Time Will Tell (Clifton Chronicles #1), by Jeffrey Archer

Five stars (of five)

Jeffrey Archer at his finest, beginning a heptalogy sure to entertain throughout. Harry Clifton comes from a poor family, where every benefit is earned and each hardship a hurdle. When he meets Giles Barrington he soon forges a life-long friendship, even if they come from different social circles. Clifton forges ahead to make a name for himself, while living under the shadow of never having met his father. While Clifton presumes Arthur Clifton died on the battlefields, the truth is known to a select few that he was involved in a horrific workplace incident, at the hands of Hugo Barrington. The reader also learns of Clifton’s mother, Maisie, who seeks to put a troubled past out of her mind and make a name for herself, all while concerned that Harry might discover the truth about his father. As the story progresses, Harry continues to be scholastically sound, but his heart remains weak when it coms to young Emma Barrington, sister of Giles and eldest daughter of Hugo. Harry and Emma build a love deeply rooted in honesty, but may face insurmountable challenges because of one lie. As Harry deals with revelations on his wedding day, he flees and finds himself in a web of lies and legal troubles on the shores of New York, as the reader stares into the abyss at the wonderful cliffhanger left at the end of the tale. Archer begins the series with a splendid foundation, sure to offer many offshoots in the coming books. 

 The book has the flavour of Follett’s Century series and Rutherfurd’s multi-generational novels, where the reader must pay attention not only to the story, but also the collection of characters and their nuances. Archer singles himself out by using seven narrators to tell the same story from their own point of view. These narratives add more to the story in a powerful and progressive manner. This is sure to keep readers wondering what lies ahead, the test of a well-crafted novel. So far things flow nicely and the characters come to life in true Archer fashion. However, no one is safe and no storyline is sure to remain on the straight and narrow.

Kudos Mr. Archer for this wonderful introduction, with a number of great cliffhangers and dramatic twists. Bring on the next volume, posthaste.

Twelve Hours, by Leo J. Maloney

Three and a half stars (of five)

Maloney brings Dan Morgan out for a wonderful short story to keep fans on the edge of their seats. With the President of Iran in New York City to make peace, security is heightened, but no one expects an inside job when Islamic terrorists begin a destructive set of events that has Morgan and his daughter, Alex, in the eye of the storm. While acts take place at various sites, Morgan and the FBI must fight to quell the action and keep the hostages safe. Working to free the hostages is one thing, but with a head of state held captive, there are no second chances, which Morgan knows all too well. Maloney takes the readers through the story in a mere twelve hours to save the city and pave the way towards peace on numerous fronts. A great novella with just enough action and new character introduction.

Maloney teases his fans effectively with this submission, though it could easily have been drawn out into a longer story. While the snippet-length chapters allow readers to forge ahead in an effective manner, the jilted style can be somewhat hard for the reader to gather the needed momentum in one scene. Still, it is a bridge to the next full-length book and likely there have been some characters and scenarios peppered within the pages to make a decent transition.

Kudos, Mr. Maloney for his lovely place-setting novella. Hoping to see more Dan Morgan before the year is out.

The Caveman, by Jorn Lier Horst

Four stars (of five)

In his latest novel to cross the language barrier into English, Horst dazzles readers yet again. With the holiday season upon him, William Wisting is taking account of the passing year and what is to come. After man’s body is found in his own home four months after he’s expired, Line Wisting seeks to personalise the man and bring her father up to speed. Both Wistings recollect the man as a neighbour from years ago, saddened that his isolation may have played a role in the delayed discovery. Inspector Wisting is pulled into action when a man’s dissicated body is found under a Christmas tree lot in a wooded area. His identity is only made with fingerprint analysis on a document inside his pocket. The man turns out to be from the FBI’s Most Wanted List from decades ago, accused of multiple murders. Can Wisting and his team work with American authorities to close the case, and how does Line’s story tie into the larger picture? Unravelling the mysteries of both men in their respective spheres may prove essential. Yet another stellar piece of work, which paves the way for ongoing success at Horst’s hands.

Horst uses key ideas and pushes the story forward in an exciting and succinct fashion. That his novels are penned in a language other than English and yet prove to be so powerful baffles me. By saying that, I mean not that English is the only language in which the reader ought to read, but that they flow so well in English, even if they were not originally intended for such an audience. While the translator is due some praise, it is also on Horst that his stories run so smoothly that their translation does not dampen the level of thrill for readers. I can only wonder if Norwegians who read some English-penned thrillers wonder how we can consume such drivel. Horst’s novels keep getting better and this only feeds the fodder that the original five novels in the series really need English rights to show their wonderful foundation-creating depiction of Wisting and the rest of the gang.

Kudos, Mr. Horst for another wonderful addition to the William Wisting collection. I am eager to see how you will top this with another wonderful adventure!