Unlike Archer's other short stories, which often have a twist at the end, this collection is told in a more straightforward manner as most stories are based on true events and real persons that Archer encountered during his time in jail. So while this book may not be as gripping as his other masterpieces, it feels more authentic and believable....Continua
Jeffrey Archer is not my favourite author, but is my favourite author of short stories. I even think he is the greatest contemporary short story-teller.
His last four collections of short stories, namely A Quiver Full of Arrows, A Twist in the Tale, Twelve Red Herrings and To Cut a Long Story Short, were all superbly crafted with ingenious plots and numerous twists and turns. Most of these stories were thrillers with mysterious characters. The common denominator and the most enjoyable element of all these stories were the surprise ending (just like the films by M. Night Shyamalan, director of The Sixth Sense).
I therefore had very high expectations of this latest collection. Cat O'Nine Tales comprises 12 short stories based on true events Jeffrey Archer heard from his fellow inmates when he served for 2 years in the British prison for the crime of perjury. These are mostly true crime stories, ranging from a couple who robbed thier own post office, a company chairman's plan to commit a perfect murder of his wife in Russia, a scam to make a million pounds from a chess set, to the marriage of a soccer player to an obese heiress of a Venetian tycoon. In the foreword, Archer stressed that these were all true.
Maybe that's the reason why there were fewer twists in the plot and the ending was far more predictable than Archer's previous work. I was quite disappointed with a few of the stories which after reading to the end, I couldn't help wondering: That's it? It's quite a waste to have such excellent narrative and tension built up throughout the story but let it end like this. However, readers have to accept that these were real events and Archer was only reflecting the truth. To embellish the story by spicing up the ending would not do justice to the truth and the people involved.
This is not Archer's best collection of short stories, but should not detract from your enjoyment of it, especially if you have never read his books. The stories are all very easy to read with funny drawings by Ronald Searle.
A perfect book for vacation.
P.S. I also enjoy reading Archer's novels such as Kane & Abel, which has become a classic. His real-life story is also as interesting and spectacular as his novels and screenplays. Having penned so many bestsellers and served as the mayor of London, he was locked up behind bars for an unsavoury misdemeanor (he committed perjury in court by giving an alibi in a libel suit, when in fact at the relevant time he was with a prostitute). He is now back to the upper circle of the London socialites and churning out one bestseller after another. We don't see many such people who get everything, lose it all and be back in business faster than you can imagine. He is a legend, isn't he? While I am not interested in his three volumes of prison diaries, I look forward to reading his memoir of his eventful life....Continua