To Cut a Long Story Short

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9780006514695: To Cut a Long Story Short

The latest short-story collection from Britain’s bestselling writer, ‘the greatest storyteller of our age’.

The latest collection from the master storyteller. The fourteen – all new – stories show Jeffrey Archer’s great skills with a wide variety of character, of subject and of setting, but all with that trademark twist in the tail.

Every reader will have their own favourites: the choices run from love at first sight across the railway tracks to the cleverest of confidence tricks, from the quirks of the legal profession to the creative financial talents of a member of Her Majesty’s diplomatic service. One of the most intriguing describes a woman who only appears to her lover every six years. And one of the most powerful is the story of a wealthy man who declares himself bankrupt in order to discover which of his family and friends will support him. The last story, ‘The Grass is Always Greener’, is possibly the best piece Archer has written.

To Cut a Long Story Short is Jeffrey Archer’s fourth story collection, and shows him at the top of his form.

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Review:

Fraud, deceit, deception, lying, bankruptcy, infidelity: these are the recurrent themes that concern Jeffrey Archer in his fourth collection of short stories, To Cut a Long Story Short. Of the 14 stories gathered here, nine are asterisked as being "based on true incidents" but the whole collection is remarkable for the extent to which Archer's own chequered career finds echoes in his fiction. In "Crime Pays", Kenny Merchant--"that wasn't his real name, but then, little was real about Kenny" finds an ingenious loophole in the Data Protection Act to make a financial killing, while in "The Letter" a wife enjoys reading a kinky love letter from her lover (a well-known novelist) in front of her husband. Her lover recalls making love in "the loo at the Caprice" and fantasises about "being tied to a four-poster bed, with you standing over me in a police sergeant's uniform".

In one of the few stories that does not involve people conning one another, "The Grass is Greener", the moral of the story appears to be that the head of an international bank experiences more pain and personal turmoil than Bill the beggar who sits on the street outside. In "A Change of Heart", a racist white South African devotes himself to doing good for the black community after receiving a black man's heart following a near-fatal car accident. Archer's fans will undoubtedly enjoy this collection but other readers may find its relish for duplicity rather dubious or at best find its sentimental morality rather cloying. --Guy Smit

Review:

‘A storyteller in the class of Alexandre Dumas’
Washington Post

‘Archer has a gift for plot that can only be described as genius’
Daily Telegraph

‘The man’s a genius’
Fay Weldon, Evening Standard

‘Few are more famous than Archer for keeping the pages turning’
Peter Stothard, The Times

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