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Jeffrey Archer, whose bestselling novels span from Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less to Kane and Abel and The Eleventh Commandment, has sold over 120 million books throughout the world. The author is married with two children.
Archer does a passable O. Henry in his third story collection (after A Twist in the Tale ), though without that master's depth of feeling or irony. Many of the 12 stories here, all of which feature false clues and twist endings, are based on ``known'' incidents; the fact that the weakest ones are not suggests that Archer's love of plot may exceed his unaided grasp. The leadoff yarn, ``Trial and Error,'' for instance, an original but attenuated tale of a wronged man's thirst for revenge, kicks in only with its predictably wry twist. Also original but flaccid is the last story, which features four rather obvious alternative endings that the reader can tack onto an opening gambit about a man picking up a woman at the theater. The adaptive tales are generally stronger. ``Chunnel Vision'' offers a classic red herring by which Archer uses a jilted woman's revenge on her lover to divert our attention from the real threat to the lover's happiness. Similarly, the chilling ``Never Stop on the Motorway'' plays on our expectations about an endangered woman's plight. Written in strong, clean prose and ranging in tone from charming to achingly suspenseful, these tales, mostly entertaining but often slight, offer, like much of Archer's work, more craft than art. $365,000 ad/promo; audio rights to HarperAudio. (July)
"'Outstanding... white-knuckle suspense and witty denouements' Daily Express; 'Archer hits the bull's eye with an exemplary collection of short stories' Daily Mail.
There's probably not a red herring among these stories from master spy writer Archer.