Title: Tell Tale
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Publisher: Pan Macmillan India
Jeffrey Archer returns to the story format with this book of whimsical, sometimes ironic pieces nearly a decade-and-a-half after his last volume of short stories was published in 2010. This compilation of 13 wonderfully crafted short stories is reminiscent of stories by O. Henry. A few of the stories in this collection, ‘Tell Tale,’ hinges on the idea that nothing is as it seems. True to Archer’s theme, someone gets an unexpected comeuppance in most of the tales. Slightly old-fashioned, all the stories speak of a time that has long since passed and yet come alive for a second time to tantalize the readers. Every one of the stories are marked by simplicity and unpretentiousness — Archer’s hallmark, when it comes to spinning short stories. The fully fleshed characters and absorbing plots would definitely remain on one’s mind long after the book has been put aside.
‘Tell Tale’ begins with “Who Killed the Mayor,” the story of a young Neapolitan detective who has been assigned to a small town in Campania to investigate the murder of the mayor whose presence had been poisoning the idyllic village. The story was immensely enjoyable even though the ending was quite predictable. In ‘A Gentleman and a Scholar,’ a retiring professor — one of the first women to teach at Yale — gives her final lecture on Shakespeare. She becomes a study in grace as she recalls her first day at the university and the challenges she was thrown. ‘The Car Park Attendant’ is yet another of his stories inspired from real life incidents. The ingenious way a man makes his money is worth reading again and again. In “The Road to Damascus,” Archer examines the spiritual and the ironic. While in “The Holiday of a Lifetime” he allows his readers to satisfy their individual desires in the form of three different and equally interesting endings.
Archer, as we all will agree, is a master story teller when it comes to short stories, be it fiction or non-fiction, thanks to his vast experience as a globe trotter. His use of dialogues is seamless and his characters have the capacity to tear the fabric of improbable and come alive. However, having read all his short stories till date, I daresay this latest collection seems somewhat of a rehashing. But the good news is, none of the stories bore.
Jeffrey Archer, whose novels and short stories include Kane and Abel, A Prisoner of Birth and Cat O' Nine Tales, has topped the bestseller lists around the world, with sales of over 275 million copies.
He is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction (nineteen times), short stories (four times) and non-fiction (The Prison Diaries).
The author is married to Dame Mary Archer, and they have two sons, William and James, two grandsons and a granddaughter, and divide their time between homes in London, Cambridge and Mallorca.
I'd like to thank the publisher for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!
* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy: Amazon.in