To Cut a Long Story Short

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9780006514695: To Cut a Long Story Short

To Cut A Long Story Short

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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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