Tell Tale: Short Stories, by Jeffrey Archer

Nine stars

It is always a pleasure to read something penned by the great Lord Jeffrey Archer, whose ideas seem never to run out as he presents them in a witty fashion. In this group of short stories, Archer presents the full gamut of his capabilities, showing that he can write something shorted than half a page, as well as a multi-part piece that spans many of the collection’s pages. Brilliant in his ideas, Archer tells tales of stamp collector, eager parking attendants, duplicitous insurance scammers, and those who want to ‘stick it to the man’. The reader will find themselves fully captivated in the stories and wishing the collection could go on forever. As intriguing as his Clifton Chronicles and some of his other epic novels, this short collection is worth every invested moment the reader takes to complete these fourteen stories.

I am filled with joy to find anything by Jeffrey Archer on my TBR shelf, especially his short stories. His list of ideas seems endless and he always finds ways to weave together masterful pieces that include a little punch at the end, as if the reader needed a jolt to end their reading experience. The vast array of characters in this collection is wonderful and Archer is able to develop those vessels of the narrative with such ease (and differentiates them so effectively). I can almost see the characters as they travel through the story, which is surely the sign of a quality writer. The stories are also wonderful for their variety as well as poignant lessons embedded in the text. Even when Archer is faced with stunning limitations (one hundred words exactly, due in 24 hours), he is able to deliver something eyebrow-raise worthy. What a master at the craft he has remained over four decades. There will be some who bemoan his legal issues, and such trolls have emerged on Goodreads. It is surely they who are the jealous folk, incapable of writing themselves out of a wet paper bag (and, trust me, their troll comments prove that point). Sit back and enjoy this collection! It will not be something you regret.

Kudos, Lord Archer, for offering your fans such a wonderful post-Clifton collection of writing. I have no doubt that you will continue to amaze us with all your ideas for years to come.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:


It Can’t be October Already: A Short Story, by Jeffrey Archer

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Jeffrey Archer, and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Lord Jeffrey Archer continues to prove that he is a wordsmith, showing off those skills in this wonderfully succinct piece. Patrick O’Flynn is caught red-handed as he is in the midst of committing a crime one October night. O’Flynn seems to be well-known to the authorities, all of whom wonder if it can, again, be October. As he is taken in and processed, O’Flynn continues to greet those who know him well. A brief encounter with the courts earn him six months in jail, which seems to play into the larger plan that he has concocted already. After he is sent off the Belmarsh, O’Flynn reveals his larger plan to his cellmate, at which time it all makes sense. Quick witted throughout this short piece, Archer keeps the reader guessing through to the ‘aha’ moment. Perfect for a coffee break and sure to impress a cross-section of readers.

I remain impressed with the work Lord Archer produces (or resurrects) at the drop of a hat. He has a way of pulling the reader in from the early pages and not letting up until the final phrase lingers in the air. While there is little time for character development, Archer does present enough backstory for the reader to feel some connection to O’Flynn. From there, it is the short back and forth as the narrative builds through to the end, where Archer injects his notable twist. Any reader who loves a full novel by this English master will adore the short stories that keep things light and highly entertaining. Well worth the invested time and effort.

Kudos, Lord Archer for this wonderful piece. I look forward to all you have going on and sketched out for future publications. 

Never Stop on the Motorway: A Short Story, by Jeffrey Archer

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Jeffrey Archer, and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Lord Jeffrey Archer has made a name for himself, with spellbinding novels spanning over three decades. He has also proven to be equally talented when it comes to the short story, as is exemplified in this electronic republication of a past piece. Diana is a successful divorced mother of two, who enjoys life whenever possible. During her only childless weekend, she accepts an invitation to a country getaway. After a brief delay, Diana dodges commuter traffic and hopes to make up for lost time. However, she is soon being followed by a large van she cannot shake, its headlights glaring into her rearview mirror. No matter what she does, Diana is unable to lose this crazed driver, who follows her when she executes the most Bond-like driving off the A1. As panic sets in, Diana recollects some recent police alert about a serial rapist who has been targeting single women on the road. With this madman on her bumper, will she be the next victim? Archer weaves a wonderful story that keeps the reader on edge for the short time they are enveloped in this piece. Perfect for that coffee or lunch break, with just enough thrill to keep the heart pumping rapidly.

In all the years I have been reading Lord Jeffrey Archer, I have yet to be underwhelmed. His stories are always full of intrigue and he hashes out his characters with ease. In a short story, it is essential to pull the reader in and have them connect to the character, which Archer does as he spins the backstory needed to feel for Diana. From there, it is the swift development of the plot and some of the subplots that keep the reader pushing forward. Archer has that mastered here, leaving the reader to wonder about this mysterious van driver and how far things will go, even as Diana has her destination in sight. As with many Archer pieces, the end is where it all comes together, pushing the protagonist to the limits before injecting a wonderful twist. This is Archer at his best, bar none.

Kudos, Lord Archer for this wonderful piece, which I cannot remember reading in the past. You have such a way with words and I can only hope you will continue churing out masterful pieces for many years to come.