Book Review: “To Cut A Long Story Short” by Jeffrey Archer

If you’re a fan of short stories, this collection is amazing!  It was released in 2000 and I’m so sorry I haven’t picked it up before now.

Before picking up this collection at my local Friends of the Library used book sale, I had never read a Jeffrey Archer novel.  I’m sorry… let me rephrase: a Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare novel.   That’s right, he’s a Baron, AND a writer, AND a former politician.    This fact makes me feel very lazy.

Archer was a member of the English Parliament from 1969 to 1974 before becoming an author.  In a story that sounds like fiction, Archer did not seek reelection when a financial scandal left him nearly bankrupt, however, he revived his fortunes by becoming a best-selling author.  He did go back into politics in the 1980s and ’90s, and his books have now sold over 330 million copies worldwide.   Not bad for a simple Barron.

To Cut a Long Story Short contains fourteen riveting tales of elaborate confidence tricks, political chicanery, immoral behavior, and dangerously illicit affairs.  Eight of which are based on true events!  The collection contains the following short stories:

  • Death Speaks (from W. Somerset Maugham’s Sheppey)
  • The Expert Witness
  • The Endgame
  • The Letter
  • Crime Pays
  • Chalk and Cheese
  • A Change of Heart
  • Too Many Coincidences
  • Love At First Sight
  • Both Sides Against The Middle
  • A Weekend to Remember
  • Something for Nothing
  • Other Blighters’ Efforts
  • The Reclining Woman
  • The Grass is Always Greener . . .

The outstanding element in all of these stories is the outrageous and yet believable characters:  the intoxicating woman who appears to her lover only once every six years; the British diplomat who employs his rather creative — if not entirely ethical — financial talents for a greater good; the millionaire who declares himself bankrupt to test the love and loyalties of those closest to him.

My favorite story (and one that will stick with me for a long time) was The Reclining Woman.  This tale is based on a true story told from the perspective of a patron at an art museum listening to a museum guide speak about a statue’s origin.  Being a fan of museums and art, I naturally found this intriguing and want to know what elements of the story are true!

Coming from a paralegal background, I also enjoyed The Expert Witness as well as Both Sides Against The Middle – both based on true stories, and centering around a legal element.

Essentially, I think there’s something for everyone within these pages – romantics, mystery readers, crime….uhm…..enthusiasts, and anyone who enjoys well-crafted prose.  If you enjoy short stories – or even if they aren’t really your cup of tea – give this book a try.  It’s very enjoyable!

Book ReviewFiction

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