Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: Honour Among Thieves – Jeffrey Archer

Authors of the Archer style are the perfect fit for a long weekend where the weather is poor and you are desperate to forget those things you forgot to do, (but recalled unfortunately later that evening), before you left work for the extended break. A page turning plot, but not too complex that your mind seeking absolute relaxation will be called into further action than to try and pronounce an authors attempt at a foreign name.

Honour Among Thieves turned out to fit that bill perfectly as I lifted it from the shelf for a read. In fact it outdid expectations. The story revolves around simultaneously occurring plot lines where one country's secret agents plot to do harm to their enemies, or find out what harm is planned for another. Archer wrote this book in the early 1990's at the conclusion of the first Gulf War giving the chief protagonists as being the USA (with Bill Clinton as President), Israel (Yitzhak Rabin as Prime Minister) and Iraq (Saddam Hussein as President).
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The Iraqis seek the USA's humiliation, the Israelis for blood (Saddam's) and the United States information on what the other two nations are up to. The Iraqis have hatched a plan to steal the USA's Declaration of Independence while at the same time the Israelis plan to assassinate Saddam Hussein. Although predictably these plot lines converge for an expected ending, the book leaves the reader turning to the very end before finding out just how it works.

Archer among others has had instances in free flowing thrillers such as this as leaving the reader hanging until the end, but then wrapping up the story with an impossible turn of events that somehow must be accepted as the end of the story. Honour Among Thieves has not fallen into this trap. The ending is of course improbable (but then so are all the events of this and most novels) but it is worthwhile given the investment of time the reader has put in.

Because there are so many different characters Archer has not tried to give background on each of them too extensively. In such a story he has found the balance right between giving enough information for each, but not overburdening the reader with descriptions of any character in a book where all are equal contributors to the story.

Archer, as is his regular will, does have a passionate love affair written in between the American agent Scott Bradley, and the Israeli agent Hannah Kopec (who just happens to be a former resident of Parisian catwalks). Archer can get carried away with his descriptions of love affairs in his works that border on being perverse rather than helpful to the read, but in this book he gets the balance right. You know there is passion, but you don't need a fifth of the book to know it either.

One of his best and perfect for an entertaining read without excessive mental exertion. Tennis Balls.

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