The Endgame: The Year of Short Stories, by Jeffrey Archer

Eight 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. I recently discovered that I overlooked the December (2017) story in my reading, which is an interesting piece that pits family members against one another and shows just how charitable they can be in times of crisis. Cornelius Barrington has always suspected his family to be more interested in his money than anything else. Over one of their weekly chess matches, Barrington devises a plan with his solicitor, Frank Vintcent, to turn the tables on his greedy family. Barrington and Vintcent draw up paperwork to show that this well-to-do man is actually on the brink of bankruptcy. Reactions are quick to come in, though no one is entirely sure if they can help their esteemed family member with his financial woes. Barrington continues with the charade, putting not only his estate up for sale, but liquidating most of his belongings at auction. Barrington generously invites family and close friends to bid on items of interest to them. It is at this point that their greed and need to be at the trough becomes readily apparent, forcing Cornelius Barrington to see just how far people are willing to go to deflect the need to help, while surrounding themselves with riches. Archer pens yet another wonderful piece that keeps the reader thinking and the story flowing through to its final zinger. Recommended for those who love a good Archer short story or any reader who needs something to fill a little time in their day!

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. Now I await each instalment on a monthly basis, I can hope to find gems amidst all the reading I undertake each year. This was definitely one of the more complex and should likely not have been ready without the aid of my morning caffeine boost, as I needed to be sharp and follow the quick wit that Cornelius Barrington adds to the story throughout its development. That being said, Archer develops some interesting character traits for Barrington, this mastermind who coaxes his family into their downfall and shows that they are but a grubby lot, interested in riches over family honour. The supporting characters, individuals who seek to better themselves at the cost of others, proved interesting and their excuses kept my eyebrows raised throughout this piece. Truly, one could not ask for a more deceitful lot. The story was of the perfect length to remind myself why I enjoy Archer’s work so much. Archer is able to impress and entertain in equal measure, something that is rare in the pieces I have come across over the last number of years. I have enjoyed all these pieces and am eager for the next turn of the calendar, when I can be assured yet another short story.

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: