Too Many Coincidences (The Year of Short Stories, March), 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. March brings about an interesting story that begins on a boat, or two. When Angus Henderson and Max Bennett meet after their boats bump into one another, they strike up a business relationship that could be highly beneficial. However, with Angus away for a time, Max sets his eyes on Mrs. Henderson, much younger than her husband. Ruth finds herself drawn to Max, who makes his move and leaves a mark on her heart. Working with Angus to settle some real estate matters, Max has the couple visit him in London to finalise proceedings. However, Angus takes ill and is soon sent to the hospital, where he dies, surrounded by family. Smitten with Max, Ruth agrees to marry him in short order and they continue what has been a whirlwind romance. However, something changes and soon Ruth notices that her husband is spending more time away. Longer periods of time apart lead Ruth to turn to another suitor, as she worries about how this second marriage will go. It is then that things take an interesting turn, forcing Ruth to realise she never really knew Max Bennett at all. Archer has done it again with a masterful story that can be consumed in a single setting. Short story aficionados will likely have much praise for Archer, whose ability to spin a tale leaves him in a class all his own.

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 will review each storey based on its own merits, binging with the five before me to catch up, before awaiting each instalment on a monthly basis thereafter. With little time to waste, Archer weaves backstories and character development for the protagonists, who come to life under his pen. The story, unique but with a flavour of some past pieces by this masterful author, keeps the reader intrigued and the fast-pace of the narrative leaves little time to catch one’s breath. Archer lays down a strong foundation and then uses his style to build up a story that the reader cannot help but love, adding a twist towards the end that is sure to blindside many. It is always refreshing to have some Jeffrey Archer pieces on hand, as he is able to take the reader on journeys never imagined while enjoying a cup of one’s favourite beverage. Brilliant work!

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: