Don’t Drink the Water: The Year of Short Stories, 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. I recently received my August story and could not wait to get started. Richard Barnsley is an astute businessman with strong ties in Russia. When the chance to solidify a major deal crosses his path, Richard is not about to let it slip through his fingers, with a senior member of the Cabinet and the Russian President prepared to attend the signing ceremony. Back in England, Barnsley discovers that his wife of many years has apparently decided to file for divorce, thought she has not come out to tell him. Worried about the entire situation, Barnsley agrees to take his wife on his business trip to Russia. He purposely fails to let her know that the local water is not potable and that she need only consume the bottled variety on offer. Barnsley also concocts an elaborate scheme to ensure her bottled water is always replaced with that which flows from the tap, thereby ensuring her demise. While sightseeing, Richard’s wife comes down with something, leaving her achy and feverish. Might this be the ultimate act to ensure no division of assets at divorce? Only time will tell, as long as no one drinks the water! Archer pens yet another wonderful story, keeping 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 exciting pieces I have read of late, pitting a man who refuses to lose anything against an unsuspecting wife who wants nothing more than to enjoy herself on holiday. Told in an interesting way that prefaces the piece with a version of events that makes Archer the story’s actual narrator, the reader is treated to something quite intriguing through to the very end of this story. The characters proves interesting and the story flowed well, as Archer is prone to ensure it does in his shorter pieces. 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 stories and am eager for the next turn of the calendar, when I can be assured yet another gen.

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: