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Review: Jeffrey Archer's Best Kept Secret

books Updated: Mar 13, 2013 22:27 IST
Hindustan Times
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If one could pile up all the clichés used to describe a bestseller, Jeffrey Archer's Best Kept Secret does not veer off the list as he spins the yarn with all the right and usual dosage of drama, danger and intrigue.

In the third installment of the five volume Clifton Chronicles, Archer takes the story of Harry Clifton, Giles and Emma Barrington forward. Dipped in twisting plots of revenge and sweeping through time, we see Harry and Emma pursuing their new lives as they raise their son Sebastian and adopt Jessica – who is the love child of Emma's father – and follow Giles as he faces trials and tribulations as a Labour MP.

Archer, who is known for his political career in Britain's Conservative Party as well as his novels, does not hesitate to provide an autobiographical touch to the plot. But inclusion of his close knowledge of parliamentary procedures and the election process riles (making one loose track whether it's a new novel of his or an old one painted in similar words).

So does Harry's mystery writer's persona going through the rigmarole of what authors have to go through to make his book a bestseller.

In Best Kept Secret, the Cliftons and the Barringtons have to face enemies in the scheming Lady Virginia with all her upper class snootiness and eyes on Giles' wealth and a bête noire from the past in the person of Alex Fisher. Both join hands to disrupt their lives.

Keeping in mind the span of time that the novel covers and the need to propel a bestseller, Archer has sprinkled all the masala required for a potboiler.

One sees Sebastian getting embroiled in an international art fraud as Argentinian crook Don Pedro Martinez lures him into the trap. Don's life is also a spool of interestingness with rags to riches story (another hallmark of Archer novels) in the criminal world and an encounter with Nazi Germany and Hitler.

Racing through the pages of Best Kept Secret as one moves along with the characters facing life, moving in time and saving themselves by the skin of their teeth there is no doubt that Archer has written another chart topper.

And as always the reader is left in a lurch by the man who has sold more than 250 million books during his 35-year writing career and knows how to sell a few more million copies.