Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less: Jeffrey Archer, August 20—28, 2016
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
Not a penny more. Not a penny less. Just and no more, certainly nothing extra. That sums up the content of this book so well, you can practically hear Ronseal filing a trademark suit.
Four men are conned out of a combined $1 million and resolve to regain exactly that amount of money, in a 1970s version of Hustle. Each of them must come up with a plan, resulting in four discrete ‘stings’.
It’s a bit of an awkward, clunky set up. Having never met before, the characters are assembled and discuss plans and dossiers. To avoid being repetitive, Archer glosses over the substance of the plans. It’s strange, having written in an omniscient style until this point, to suddenly and blatantly withhold salient information that the lead characters are all aware of. There isn’t really a way round it, to be fair, but it’s still odd. You get the feeling you’re being played.
The other problem is Henry Metcalfe himself. As a villain, he just doesn’t hold up. There’s no menace about him. You don’t feel anything. He elicits no response at all. Moreover, he isn’t particularly clever or cunning or in any way difficult to swindle. He’s loaded, and while he’s ruthless in gaining his cash, he’s happy to part with it freely to get what he wants. Easy come, easy go. There is very little resistance, and it does nothing for the plot.
In the end, we have four men talking about plans we don’t get to hear and in the absence of any major stumbling blocks, provide very little in the way of tension or excitement. It’s an easy enough read and you can amble along quite nicely, but far from introducing Archer as the “master storyteller” the dust jacket claims, it’s actually a bit, to be blunt, dull.