A bestselling British author and a former politician, Jeffrey Archer writes ‘edge-of-your-seat thriller and drama books. Jeffrey Archer published his first book ‘Not A Penny More Not A Penny Less’ in 1976 and it was an instant success. Then after Jeffrey Archer went on to write numerous bestselling blockbuster books, including Kane and Abel and First Among Equals; the latter focused on a quartet of impressionable new MPs, which drew on his own political experiences. During his imprisonment for perjury during a libel case, Jeffrey Archer wrote a trilogy of acclaimed Prison Diaries, books about his experience of incarceration.
In 2011 Jeffrey Archer published first book, Only Time Will Tell, of the seven volume long The Clifton Chronicles, which spanned the life and adventures of Harry Clifton. The final installment, This Was a Man, was published in 2016. Jeffrey Archer’s latest novel is Nothing Ventured published in 2011, the opening volume of a new series featuring detective William Warwick, the hero of Harry Clifton’s fictional novels.
I have come to admire Jeffrey Archer and his works. The attention to detail he gives to his characters is something I love. They seem real and not dipped in frivolity. Every detail seems to serve a purpose to propel the story. Here is a complete list of books written by Jeffrey Archer with short summary.
Stand-alone books by Jeffrey Archer
Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less
Publication Year: 1976
Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less is an outstanding first novel by British author Jeffrey Archer. It is an amazing tale of fraud and revenge. With a fake oil company and a few well places “rumor” Harvey Metcalfe pulls off a multi-million dollar swindle. Four disparate men are each conned out of their savings by this clever con man. On their own, they are powerless to do anything about it, but united they develop a plan to win back their lost money without exacting any further punishment than attaining not a penny more, not a penny less, of that which was stolen from them. How they combine to get even and try to reclaim what is rightfully theirs makes for a brilliantly plotted, fast-paced read. It is clear that Archer will be a great storyteller
As usual Jeffrey Archer offers an climatic ending which is not so much a cliffhanger. If you want to experience the brilliance of the mind of Jeffrey Archer, this is one of the best books to begin with. You’ll be sinking in all of his literary work in no time, afterwords!
First Among Equals
Publication Year: 1984
For anyone looking for some (though not really detailed) insight into how the British parliamentary system works, this book is worth picking up. The pacing of the book is a quick cantor and the story line in snappy. It follows four men of roughly equal ages from varying backgrounds and varying parts of the United Kingdom as they pursue careers in politics, ultimately aiming for the top job in their respective parties.
In the 1960s, four ambitious new MPs take their seats at Westminster. Over three decades they share the turbulent passions of the race for power with their wives and families, men and women caught up in a dramatic game for the highest stakes of all. But only one man can gain the ultimate goal – the office of Prime Minister.
A Matter of Honour
Publication Year: 1986
A Matter of Honour is set in 1966 and is a thriller involving fakes, lies and secrets. Modern thrillers contain a lot of detail about email, the internet and mobile phones. But over 50 years ago things were very different! No email, no internet and telephones were connected by copper cables, were not cordless and people used public call boxes by inserting coins in the booth. But people still told lies and bad guys still had to be tackled.
Leonid Ilyich(minister of Russia) comes to Zaborski(head of KGB) with strange request. The Tsar icon in the winter palace is fake and Leonid needs KGB to find the original icon. The icon hold a secret that is of great national and political importance and it has be found within a month. Alex Romanov was selected to help find the original icon.
Adam Scott after the death of his father, visits the lawyer with his mother and sister. Although he knew there will not be much of financial benefit, he comes in possession of a letter that can change his life around. It the letter that caused disgraced to his father who worked for the army.
The letter has ability to clear his father ne or bring more dishonor to his family. Yet he opens the letter and finds that he is in possession of the Russian icon St George and the dragon that belong to the last Tsar.
For Russian, having the icon back can bring about change in the balance of Power. Thus, story begins with such thrilling storyline and makes a book a gripping read.
As the Crow Flies
Publication Year: 1990
Jeffrey Archer is a master raconteur, pure and simple, and he has turned that talent to tell the story of Charlie Trumper in “As The Crow Flies”.
Charlie grew up in the East End of London working with his Grandpa, who was a trader on the White-chapel Road market selling fruit and veg from his barrow. When Charlie’s grandfather dies so begins Charlie’s journey to own a store that sold everything under one roof – the “biggest barrow in the world”!
Spanning seven decades Archer takes the reader through Charlie’s ups and downs, triumphs and disasters, from the battlefields of WW1 France to cities in America and Australia; from East End streets to elegant Chelsea Terrace. A story of love, ambition, heartbreak, and revenge.
Honour Among Thieves
Publication Year: 1993
Set two years after the Gulf War and in the early days of the Clinton administration Saddam Hussein has unleashed a cunning plan to humiliate the United States.
The main theme is that shortly after Clinton replaces Bush, Saddam Hussein pays $100M to a mob-related group to steal the American Declaration of Independence. A Yale professor (and our hero) Scott Bradley, gets his desire for a field assignment with the CIA to get it back. Thereafter, most of the action is in Iraq, and before it’s over Bradley teams up with an Israeli female spook (and falls in love while he’s at it!), as well as some other American diehards from the CIA, who build a complex plan to steal back the precious parchment and avoid Hussein’s planned humiliation of a Fourth of July burning on national TV. Does he succeed in time?
The Fourth Estate
Publication Year: 1996
This is another one of great Jeffrey Archer books.
The story of rivals and publishing moguls Richard Armstrong and Keith Townsend.
An excellent read of greed and power that spans decades. The book starts at the end (1991) and then details the path of these two men in their quest and rise to control the world’s media. Dick and Keith will go to great lengths and expense to out do each other and others while building up their empire.
The story of two Print Media barons, hailing from two completely different backgrounds with an insatiable appetite for owning as many newspapers in the world as possible. While one is a survivor from a small village in Poland which has been ravaged by Hitler’s Germany, the other is born with the proverbial silver spoon. Both follow dramatically different paths encountering a lot of challenges and ultimately and inevitably face off against each other in a battle of wits, guile, ruthlessness and power of epic proportions.
The Eleventh Commandment
Publication Year: 1998
This is one of the page-turner Jeffrey Archer books. Connor Fitzgerald has been married to Meg for many years; their daughter is weeks away from graduation from the Stanford med school. Connor, a lifelong CIA operative, has just a few jobs left to do before he can retire. In his world, the eleventh commandment is “never get caught.”
Connor has quietly carried out assassinations for the United States for years, and he successfully concludes one in Columbia as this book opens. But Congress and others are turning up the heat on the CIA, and there are rumors that one of its operatives is responsible for the assassination in Columbia. The director, recognizing that this could destroy her career if a link can be successfully made to her agency, determines that Connor Fitzgerald must die so that such a link never materializes.
Sons of Fortune
Publication Year: 2002
This book is equally thrilling like all other Jeffrey Archer books. The start of the book reminded me of his book The Fourth Estate but as you go on reading you will realise that it’s nothing like that book at all.
Sons of Fortune is a long novel about the lives of two men, Nat Cartwight and Fletcher Davenport. These two men are identical twins who were separated at birth, with Fletcher being switched to replace the deceased baby of the other woman.
Both men live similar lives, as they both go to rival private schools, and both run in school elections. Since both run for school president, they both get the aid of their best friends, who also help them as they both run against each other for the position of governor.
During university, Nat is called for duty in Vietnam. Fletcher is lucky enough to not be called for duty however. Before they run for governor, Nat becomes a banker, while Fletcher becomes a lawyer. They also both get married, and have families.
Publication Year: 2005
Anna Petrescu is a fine art historian and expert in the field of art auctions and brokering. But when an old lady who also happens to own a priceless Van Gogh is murdered in her London estate, Anna’s boss, a banker with a questionable reputation, demands she acquire the painting for him. But history interferes in a big way as the murder takes place on the night before 9/11. What follows is a complex cat-and-mouse story filled with cons, double-crosses, and intrigue galore.
False Impression also represents a bit of a departure from most of books by Jeffrey Archer. For one thing, it takes place over just a couple of weeks. Jeffrey Archer manages to maintain a fast-paced narrative throughout the novel which will keep you turning the pages.
A Prisoner of Birth
Publication Year: 2008
A modern parallel to, The Count of Monte Cristo, done in a much shorter timeline. Jeffrey Archer did a great job of creating a story line that was interesting and characters that were compelling.
Danny Cartwright just proposed to Beth Wilson, his pregnant girlfriend, and life seemed so perfect. Suddenly though he finds himself arrested and charged for a murder he did not commit. When four well-respected witnesses testify against him, one of whom is actually guilty, he is sentenced to twenty-two years in prison.
The four think that they have gotten away with it, but they underestimated Danny and Beth’s determination and ability to get their revenge.
Paths of Glory
Publication Year: 2009
This is a novel based on a historical event whose outcome is unknown.
George Mallory loved climbing mountains and he had a lifelong dream of climbing to the summit of Mt. Everest – 29,002 ft. He also wanted to be the first man to do so. He promised his wife he would only attempt the climb once and if it wasn’t successful, he’d be content to let that “lover” go.
Funded by the Royal Geographic Society of Great Britain, the first expedition led by Mallory in 1921 wasn’t successful. A few years later, in 1924, he led another expedition determined to be successful this time. But, George Mallory and another climber didn’t return to camp as scheduled after leaving to make the last part of the climb to the summit. In fact, Mallory’s body wasn’t discovered until 1999. He died about 1500 ft. from the summit.
The question is, did he and the other climber die before making it to the “top of the world” or did they die after reaching the summit, but were unable to make it back to camp?
Paths of Glory is such a well-researched, well-written and very captivating “based on true events” story. The love of George and Ruth Mallory made the story even more endearing.
Heads You Win
Publication Year: 2018
From the beginning one is aware that they are in the hands of a author who has perfected his craft, has a firm grasp of his characters and the plot. His prose is written with clarity, his storyline flows seamlessly. What an unusual but perceptive, history in the making, storyline this turned out to be.
Russia, Alexander’s father, a dockworker, secret orginizer of those in opposition to communism, is murdered by the KGB, an act that alters changes their future. His uncle, also s worker on the dock, helps he and his mother escape, they have no other option. Their are two vessels leaving, one for New York and one for England, a flip of the coin determines where they will be heading.
So begins a twin storyline, a storyline that follows them to both locations, or what would have been their lives after chosing which destination.
Book Series by Jeffrey Archer
Kane and Abel Series by Jeffrey Archer
Book 1: Kane and Abel
Publication Year: 1979
Released in the United Kingdom in 1979 and in the United States in February 1980, the book was an international success. It reached No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.
Two men—William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski—are born on the same day in 1906. However, their births could not be more different. Abel is a penniless orphan who is adopted by a poor Polish woodcutter’s family after his mother is found dying by the road. Kane is born into a life of privilege—the only son of a powerful Boston banking millionaire.
The book chronicles the parallel lives of the two men. Abel endures hardship, tragedy and oppression but manages to immigrate to America and build a successful hotel chain. Kane takes full advantage of his birthright and receives the finest education money can buy and becomes the leader of one of America’s oldest and most powerful banks—yet suffers a series of tragedies of his own that make him wary of trusting people.
Although their lives run parallel as they establish their careers, there are moments when their lives intersect. Eventually, they confront each other in a business situation that ends up affecting both their lives forever and leading to a game of one-upsmanship that affects not only their individual businesses but the U.S. financial community. As the conflict unfolds between them for the bulk of their adult lives, both are stunned to find that the biggest price ends up being paid by those they love the most.
Book 2: The Prodigal Daughter
Publication Year: 1982
Like almost all Jeffrey Archer books, this one too is a heart pumping thriller. The Prodigal Daughter focuses on the life of Florentyna Rosnovski Kane, the daughter of a Polish immigrant who lived the American dream. The first half of this book is a retelling of events from Kane and Abel. The reader gains a few new insights seeing things through Florentyna’s eyes.
After treating us with financial narrative in Kane and Abel, the second installment comes with a political narrative. It was my best choice to read the second book of the series a long time after the first book because the first half of The Prodigal Daughter is dedicated to revisiting the past in the perspective of Florentyna, daughter of Abel.
And the second half goes through her financial and political carrier with the untimely twists and climaxes which keep you going. Even though the end is evident towards the latter part of the book, it was delivered in quite a glamour which would take even the avid predictor by surprise.
Book 3: Shall We Tell the President?
Publication Year: 1977
This is the 3rd book of the Kane and Abel series. Shall We Tell the President? is a 1977 novel by English author Jeffrey Archer. A revised edition was published in 1986.
In the first edition, a plot to kill the President of the United States, Edward Kennedy, is foiled by a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent working with the head of the FBI. A love story complicates the plot. The book includes descriptive details of official Washington, for which the author lists sources.
After the success of Kane and Abel and The Prodigal Daughter, in the revised edition Archer replaced Kennedy with the fictional character of Florentyna Kane, and original Vice President Dale Bumpers with the real-life Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey. The author makes frequent references to William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar.
Book 1: Only Time Will Tell
Publication Year: 2011
Jeffrey Archer at his finest, beginning a Seven Books series sure to entertain throughout. This is a historical fiction, or maybe even a family drama saga, based in the 1920s to 1940s time frame in England.
Only Time Will Tell is all about a little boy Harry Clifton, who is from a poor family. His father (a dock worker) is killed under mysterious circumstances at work, and his mother struggles to take care of the family, but she is a hard working and determined woman, and she wants Harry to have a better future than to be a dock worker like his father.
Harry wins a choral scholarship at a prestigious blueblood school for the upper crust of society, and he manages to make some friends. He later finishes school and has to choose between Oxford or joining the military as Britain is entering WW2.
Book 2: The Sins of the Father
Publication Year: 2012
This novel picks up exactly where Only Time Will Tell leaves off with the arrest of Harry Clifton after he assumes the name of Tom Bradshaw.
Bradshaw is being accused of murdering his brother and is taken into custody with no reprieve. Before long Harry finds his self in jail after being convinced by his high power attorney that it’s in his best interest to take a plea of guilty for desertion so that the state will drop the charges of murder. From then on, the story of Harry moves at warp speed.
The story spans the years of World War 2 with the family drama of the Cliftons and the Barringtons continuing at top speed. This is an attention grabber from the start plunging us into the action, shifting points of views between main characters and peeling layers after layers of the story in every chapter. The war is at the forefront and we have a few combat scenes which are vividly described and exciting. While, back in England the other characters are caught up in their own melodrama. It is quite captivating to follow them.
Book 3: Best Kept Secret
Publication Year: 2013
When The Sins of the Father ended Hugo Barrington had been killed and the House of Lords had tied on who should inherit his title, and all that therein is. Giles Barrington? Or Harry Clifton? One was unquestionably the legitimate son. The other possibly the first born son.
The third book in the Clifton Chronicle series, which spans from 1945 – 1958, opens with the Lord Chancellor casting the deciding vote. His decision will have a far reaching impact. One will inherit everything. His decision will also impact whether Harry and Emma Barrington can be married.
When Hugo Barrington was killed there was a baby girl left at the murder scene. In Best Kept Secret, Emma goes in search for the mystery girl. She believes the girl is her father’s daughter. If you met Hugo Barrington in Only Time Will Tell or The Sins of the Father you know why she believes this.
Sebastian Clifton, Harry and Emma’s son, takes a front seat in this story. He grows from a young boy to a young man. Sebastian will play a major role when his Uncle Giles has to defend his seat in the House of Commons against an old foe. He has moments of greatness and then there are times when you are left shaking your head. There is no doubt he is Harry’s son.
Book 4: Be Careful What You Wish For
Publication Year: 2014
As in all his books, Jeffrey Archer spins a wonderful tale and keeps the reader engrossed throughout. Be Careful What You Wish For is the fourth novel in the Clifton Chronicles, set primarily in England and spanning the years 1957 to 1964. It continues to follow the Clifton and Barrington families as they try to outmaneuver Don Pedro Martinez, an Argentinean smuggler who featured heavily in the prior novel, Best Kept Secret.
The story opens in 1957 right where Best Kept Secret left off and answers the question of who survived the car crash involving Sebastian and Bruno. This is not a stand alone novel. You need to read the earlier books in the series to get to know the characters.
The Barrington Shipping Company has voted to build its new luxury liner, the MV Buckingham, but Don Pedro Martinez has vowed to destroy the Clifton and Barrington families regardless of the cost. Lady Virginia Fenwick also makes an appearance and is still has her claws out. Major Alex Fisher, ever the weasel, is a pawn for both Don Pedro and Lady Virginia.
When Ross Buchanan is forced to resign as chairman of the Barrington Shipping Company, Emma Clifton wants to replace him but Don Pedro has a plan to install his own puppet. Her brother, Giles, has political ambitions. Be careful what you wish for. Is this meant for Emma? Giles? Don Pedro? Maybe it is a message to everyone.
Book 5: Mightier Than the Sword
Publication Year: 2015
Every books in The Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer end with such a cliffhanger. This is the fifth novel in “The Clifton Chronicles” which describes the events of the Clifton and Barrington families throughout most of the 20th century, both in England and the US. The previous novel, Be Careful What You Wish For, ended in a major cliff hanger so thankfully this volume began with repeating the final chapter of that last book. This novel takes the characters from 1964 through 1970, tumultuous years for the world at large as well as for these characters in particular.
While there are some resolutions to some of the long-running plot lines, in general we see much more of the same continuing struggles of our two related families as they face off yet again with old foes in boardrooms, courtrooms, and political corridors. Even though we’ve seen all of this in previous books, somehow Jeffrey Archer is able to hold my interest and keep me wondering what will happen next.
One new plotline involving the quest to publish a biography of Stalin that had been confiscated behind the Iron Curtain and its author sentenced to 20 years hard labor was fun to read. And the way Jeffrey Archer weaves in and out of two separate court trials that are occurring on opposite sides of the globe at the same time is riveting. However, once again, the novel ends on a major cliff hanger.
Book 6: Cometh the Hour
Publication Year: 2016
The sixth and penultimate volume in “The Clifton Chronicles” covers most of the 1970’s and serves to move events along pretty well. By now, readers are very familiar with the major characters in the decades-long saga and so what we have here is essentially a grouping of their individual stories that occasionally overlap with the overarching story arcs that keep it all going.
We do finally get some closure to the Anatoly Babakov sub plot and we also get another in the endless Lady Virginia schemes but overall this one seemed to be a little less inspired than the other books in the series. Perhaps the whole thing is simply getting a little long in the tooth or perhaps Mr. Archer is saving a lot of the big whammies for the final volume. As in other books in the series, Jeffrey Archer ends this one with a bit of a cliff hanger but not an enormous one as we’ve seen before.
Book 7: This Was a Man
Publication Year: 2016
Jeffrey Archer is back with the final installment, This Was a Man, in seven books series called The Clifton Chronicles.
Harry and Emma age into their seventies in this one, each managing several triumphs, as to be expected. Giles also manages some particularly grand personal achievements. Jessica is the main surprise in this chapter of the series, managing to be unduly influenced by a Lothario who almost ruins her life.
Sebastian has a role to play in this book, but he is not given a lot of attention, nor is Samantha. It was good to hear of Lady Virginia up to her usual tricks, she’s almost one of those rogues you love to hate, being good for entertainment value.
This is an excellent family saga for anyone that enjoys this genre of books. The seven books cover the period from the 1920s until the early 1990s, covering the life of Harry Clifton and what a life he had! He was certainly a great central character but a good group of characters were built up across the seven books by Jeffrey Archer.
William Warwick Series by Jeffrey Archer
Book 1: Nothing Ventured
Publication Year: 2019
This is the first in the William Warwick series. Those who have read Jeffrey Archer books will be familiar with his style: engrossing plot points, some humour and delicious twists, all intact in this one.
Set in 1979, William Warwick is the son of a famed barrister. His father wants him to follow in his footsteps but William wants to be a police detective. He gets his degree in Art History, does some traveling and then joins the police force in London. After two years of patrol duty, he takes the detective exam and passes at number 1.
He is assigned to the Art and Antiques Division where his first case is investigating a missing Rembrandt. He has other small cases including books with forged author signatures. He meets a girl who works at the museum with the missing Rembrandt and discovers her father is in prison for murder. He gets his father to investigate along with his sister, Grace, also a lawyer.
Short Story Collection by Jeffrey Archer
A Quiver Full of Arrows
Publication Year: 1980
‘A Quiver full of Arrows’ is a wonderful book to make a beginning to your Jeffrey Archer Shelf. This is a compilation of twelve short stories by Jeffrey Archer, first published 1980: The Chinese Statute; The Luncheon; The Coup; The First Miracle; The Perfect Gentleman; One-Night Stand; The Century; Broken Routine; Henry’s Hiccup; A Matter of Principle; The Hungarian Professor; and Old Love.
These are fun, and the humor is rather English, so it’s pretty damn delightful. As for writing style, it’s clipped without lacking, and each story feels like something you might hear told over a whisky in a club with deep leather chairs.
A Twist in the Tale
Publication Year: 1988
Jeffrey Archer is frequently inspired to write short stories based on actual events. Jeffrey Archer writes wonderful short stories and this book is no exception. Each of these stories has a little twist that makes the story a little more (or less) than it first appeared.
There are hardly any moments when the reader will feel that he is being led on aimlessly. The narrative is crisp and pleasantly unexpected with a writing style that I personally like. The stories will have you believe that the writer has the know-how of a variety of things. The emotional aspect in some of the tales has been delicately handled and do not fail to move the reader. The notable aspect of this book is that the climax is stretched down to the last line of the story, which leaves one baffled, needing time to let it sink in before jumping on to the next in line.
Twelve Red Herrings
Publication Year: 1994
The term “Master Storyteller” is perhaps overused but in this case, Jeffrey Archer earns the moniker. Each tale puts one of its characters under a pressure situation to see how they could react and what choice they might make. Like the different directions that his characters go Jeffrey Archer has put into each of his tales a “red herring” designed to lead the reader down a particular path only to later on spring an unexpected twist taking the story in a completely different direction.
Jeffrey Archer even includes a finishing story with a choice of four different endings just to highlight how a storyteller can easily change the direction of his narration and the potential options available. Some of the stories were high tension and others were like a Sunday morning stroll. And then there was the final story, One Man’s Meat. Only Archer could pull of telling a story with four possible endings.
To Cut a Long Story Short
Publication Year: 2000
I enjoy reading Jeffrey Archer books. His style is one that appeals to me a great deal. He particularly demonstrates a mastery of ‘the twist ending’ in his short stories which generally prompts me to gasp aloud in astonishment.
The fourteen short stories contained in the book varied in length from 2 pages to more than 30 pages. Topics also varied, of course, ranging from confidence games, romantic mysteries, to even some with supernatural characters. Many seemed to take on the flavor of old-fashioned fables with insights into human nature in general.
Jeffrey Archer brought his usual narrative skills to the composition of these stories, and developed interesting and memorable characters. He led those characters through many interesting plot twists for our reading enjoyment.
Cat O’Nine Tales: And Other Stories
Publication Year: 2006
The Short story books of Jeffrey Archer are amazing. The best thing about them is that each story has that unusual quality about them that makes them unique. Jeffrey Archer spent some time in jail. He made good use of the time behind bars to gather stories from all sort of people there. He has crafted a beautiful collection of stories. The stories are based on different characters in different settings.
‘Cat O’Nine Tales: And Other Stories’ range from a tale of ‘The Man Who Robbed His Own Post Office’, to the story of a company chairman who tried to poison his wife while on a trip to St Petersburg – both with unexpected consequences. In another, ‘Maestro’, an Italian restaurateur ends up in jail, unable to explain to the tax man how he can own a yacht, a Ferrari and a home in Florence, while only declaring a profit of £70,000 a year.
And then there is Archer’s favourite, which he came across after leaving prison, ‘In the Eye of the Beholder’, where a handsome premier division footballer falls in love with a 20-stone woman … who just happens to be the ninth richest woman in Italy. – this extract from Archer’s website.
And Thereby Hangs a Tale
Publication Year: 2010
And Thereby Hangs a Tale is a collection of short stories, most of which are apparently drawn from stories told to Jeffrey Archer by people he has met and drawn from real life. Jeffrey Archer uses an omniscient narrator with finesse and usually has a twist at the tale of the story. He has an easy almost methodical style.
‘Caste-Off’, ‘A Good Eye’, ‘Members Only’ and ‘The UnDiplomatic Diplomat’ were probably my favourites because of the greater depth in background, setting, humour or motivation. And I did like the twist in ‘The Queen’s Birthday Telegram’ and ‘Blind Date.’
Publication Year: 2017
While I thoroughly enjoy Jeffrey Archer books, I think his short story writing is even better and absolutely among the very best in existence. They are addicting. You can’t read just one Jeffrey Archer short story without diving into the next. They are often simple stories of people who have a certain genuineness about them and therefore highly relatable for most readers.
This collection contains 13 stories, every one of them well written, clever and intriguing. There is a wide variety of stories to be found among the collection, including historical settings, twist endings, very short (100 words) to quite long. The final story is actually the first 4 chapters of Archer’s forth-coming novel. And finally, as has been Archer’s habit in recent collections, several of the tales are based on actual stories the author has encountered during his travels.
Prison Diaries (Non-Fiction Books) by Jeffrey Archer
Book 1: Hell – Belmarsh
Publication Year: 2002
The millionaire author and lord is sentenced to four years for perjury (he elides over the specifics of his case), and details his 21 days at London’s Belmarsh Prison while waiting on appeal. It’s an interesting look at the British penal system. Jeffrey Archer’s trial and imprisonment were headline news at the time (early 2000s) and so Archer was a celebrity in prison before he even arrived there.
The first volume of his time in prison covers the 22 days he spent in Belmarsh Prison and the trials and tribulations of his time spent there, convicts and guards that he met up with and befriended. He took to writing to cover the long periods of time he was locked in his cell.
Book 2: Purgatory – Wayland
Publication Year: 2004
After a few weeks in the hell of Belmarsh, Archer is moved to Wayland, a medium security prison as a temporary measure before he can reach the joys of an open prison. He finds the food at Wayland to be every bit as bad and some of the prisoners to be every bit as dangerous, though there were improved gym facilities and less time being locked up.
It’s the descriptions of how the wrongly incarcerated maintains a dignity that his upbringing, background, and personality could afford him, to remain curious, interested in his fellow prisoners (of course, as some kind of research project for his future books) the insistence on civility, and the discipline to write from 6 am to 8 am everyday and whenever he had time in the afternoon, some days 4 hours. And reading… amazing how well-stocked the prison library is. His goal to finish all of the Shakespearean plays then to the Sonnets is unimaginable.
Heaven – North Sea Camp
Publication Year: 2004
After finding the second installment was treading water a little I wondered how Archer would keep up any intrigue and interest with a third, and in fact the longest, book of his three part diaries. This in fact turns out to be the most interesting, well informed and poignant of the lot. In Heaven it follows Archer’s time in North Sea Camp in Boston, a category D prison as well as his shocking and very unfair transfer to the harsh Category B Lincoln prison and finally touches on a move back to a category D, this time Hollesley Bay.
Jeffrey Archer writes a good story whether a novel or a diary regarding his prison life. It was interesting to get the background of how the prison system works and his thoughts or his learning about the other side of his fellow inmates experience. It is quite different then other books of Jeffrey Archer but a quick entertaining read. These diaries have also shown a different side to Jeffrey Archer’s writing and are pretty well-informed studies on prison life.