Other Blighters’ Efforts: A 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 just received the October piece, which proves to be yet another entertaining selection, perfect for a short daytime break. Henry Pascoe is the First Secretary at the British High Commission on Aranga, a small island community off the beaten path. In hopes of bringing something to the locals, Pascoe has developed the idea of a swimming pool that the children might use, with much of its sponsorship from the British Government. Working with the local branch manager of Barclays, Pascoe utilises currency exchanges and local government instability to pad the funds for his ‘Swimming Pool’ account, in hopes of speeding the process along. When, on a brief trip from London, a representative of the Foreign Office gives the thumbs up to the project, Pascoe rushes forward to get things moving. However, there seems to be endless stalling and dithering, both in London and throughout the Foreign Office. Pascoe agrees to take a trek with Aranga’s president on an annual trip, only to learn some interesting news, all of which could impact the swimming pool and this pipe dream. An interesting Archer piece, sure to pique the attention of those who have long enjoyed his writing.

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 another decent piece, working on the theme of British support for its smaller countries under the Commonwealth. Pascoe works diligently to bring this small project to life, only to have others constantly tossing roadblocks in the way. The reader will see the man’s passion, even if it is not always revealed in productive ways, as well as showing his passion for all things local. Pascoe learns that his mid-level position leaves him yelling into the wind, though this does not go unnoticed at the most opportune time. There is little time for much impact by secondary characters, though the banter found within the pages of this piece does help shape the story and Pascoe’s reactions throughout. The story builds on the dramatic revelations these characters offer and keeps the reader enthralled. A wonderful standalone piece that will entertain readers just long enough to finish a warm mug of something (or some such beverage), Archer proves himself as the master.

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