The New Collected Short Stories by Jeffrey Archer
Book Title: TheNew Collected Short Stories
Author:Jeffrey ArcherPublisher: PanBooks, Macmillan Publishers Ltd.Rating: * ** */5
Ifyou are an avid reader, you know you go through some phases in life when youjust do not have the time or patience to sit through an entire novel or anyelaborate piece of writing. When I was right in the eye of such a period, aprotracted flight journey prompted an emergency visit to the airport bookstore. And, I ended up getting treated to a collection of short stories soindulgingly penned that I had to force myself to read slowly lest the bookshould end far too soon.
Aset of 42 diverse stories garnered under three lists- To Cut a Long StoryShort, Cat O’ Nine Tales, And Thereby Hangs a Tale, makes up this persuasive read.The yarn is spun across myriad subject matter- confidence trickery, burglaries,tax evasion, love, murder, auctions, inheritance, to say the least.
Manyof them, as Archer admits, are accounts based on real life; picked up fromvarious sources during travel around the globe, time served in prison and as localinmates. With his narration, Archer sure has added more than seasoning to truthbeing stranger than fiction. We would never know if the people’s lives were/arereally as colourful as the palatte he has used, but they do provoke an envy of thedrama nonetheless. The ones that have leaked out of his imaginative ink fallnot too far behind in succeeding to impress you. As you read on, you stopchecking the index for that small asterisk suffixing those titles that arebased on true incidents.
Goingfaithfully by the gist on the back cover, I set sail with Don’t Drink The Water and started my month long romance there. Halfway through the murder thriller, I was not sure who I was rooting for- thescheming husband or the proverbial gold digger wife. In The Red King, you follow an aristocratic family’s obsessive journeyin finding the missing pieces of an antique chess set, each member having hisown unique reason for attempting to complete the collection.
Awife takes a sneak peek at a delightfully written raunchy mail by her lover, atthe breakfast table, in front of her husband who is hidden behind the morningpaper, in The Letter. After an oldwarehouse accommodating a shoe company is burned to the ground, in High Heels, it leads an insuranceactuary to smell a rat worth about four million pounds.
The story-tellingis adroit, witty and engages classic British humour in a potent avenue. Archerseldom resorts to blatant establishment of characters and rather chooses themto be abundantly drawn out through the course of his narrative. The plots are inventivelyconstructed with his trademark twists in all their delectableness.
Thereader would find himself not just wanting to know what would happen next, butalso attempting at putting pieces of the puzzle together at the same pace asthe author’s. Now that, in my opinion, is when a writer as an artist has in allactuality caught the attention of his audience.
…‘Buthow…?’ began Frank.
‘It’s a long story,’ Cornelius replied, ‘andI’ll tell you the details over a brandy after I’ve won the game.’…