High Heels (The Year of Short Stories, May), by Jeffrey Archer

Nine stars

Master storyteller Lord Jeffrey Archer has chosen to please his fans with a new venture; a short story released each month. Those familiar with Archer’s work will know that he can not only spin long and involved pieces, but also the short story that compacts adventure into a handful of pages. May’s story introduces the reader to Alan Penhold, a trainee actuary and recently qualified lost adjuster. With his supervisor on holidays, Penhold is called out to the scene of a building fire, a high-end shoe factory. Working his first solo case, Penhold encounters many who remind him that this is surely one he will never forget, though the facts of the case are cut and dry. Likely some sort of electrical fire with an insurance payout of £4 million. Penhold undertakes some initial interviews, including with the owner, as everyone is convinced that there is nothing of note that should prevent the payout. However, Penhold discusses the matter with his wife and does a little experimentation of his own, leading to some added questions. While everyone seems happy to cut the cheque, Penhold is not quite sure. This first case may be one to remember for many reasons. Archer has done it yet again, pulling the reader into this story and leaving a twist on the end to keep things light. Those who love Archer’s short stories will enjoy this one over a quick beverage.

Lord Jeffrey Archer’s work is always full of unique perspectives, be they complete novels or shorter story such as this one. I am so pleased to have come across this collection and have reviewed each story based on its own merits, finally catching up. Now I await each instalment on a monthly basis, hoping they will be as interesting as these five. This was definitely one of the faster reads, with little time to develop backstories. However, even with a lack of character development, Archer pushes a fast narrative and keeps me wanting to know a little more. The mystery speeds up with each passing section and there’s soon little left but the reveal, which Archer does in his unique way. I have enjoyed all these pieces and now must be patient for the rest of the series to come, released for free each month to Archer fans!

Kudos, Lord Archer, for a masterful new story collection. How you find so many effective ideas that produce high quality publications I will never know.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons