Jeffrey Archer’s third volume of his Clifton chronicles contains very little surprises, and would
have been considered a great hit had it been penned by someone less illustrious than Lord Archer.
Considered to be one of the most talented and extraordinary story tellers alive, this book has at
some points let down the reader who expects a lot more from Archer. The book takes off from the
point where its predecessor ‘The Sins of the Father’ left. The old characters return and the story of
Harry Clifton and Emma Barrington along with Emma’s brother, Giles Barrington takes off with the
numerous twists and turns of any Archer classic. The storyline is as usual great, but it becomes too
predictable at some points, where the readers anticipates much of what is to come.
There has been some autobiographical streaks in this book, where Giles is portrayed as an MP in the
House of Commons where Archer uses his knowledge of the British Parliament to his advantage.
Even Harry is seen as a bestselling author, and the nuances of getting a book to become a bestseller
is shown from scratch. The principal character of the book is Emma and Harry’s so, Sebastian.
He is a talented youth who like his age had made both good and bad choices. The plot has it all,
beginning with a court order regarding the estate of the Barrington’s, and then the return of some
old foes like Fisher from the army where Giles and Harry both served, to a vamp of a fiancée of
Giles, but ultimately the characters are all safe and the story continues. Sebastian is trapped in an
international art fraud case, but with his father and uncle’s help he returns home safe and the frauds
are caught at their work. This makes some new enemies for Harry, Sebastian and Giles which we
hope will make an appearance in the next volumes.
Unlike other Archer plots, this book is at times slow in its buildup and takes a little time to gain
momentum. The book is no doubt a modern classic, as almost all of Archer’s books are. Whatever it
lacks in its plot, it makes up quite adequately in the action sequences and character traits. Having
sold more than 250 million copies of his books, Archer knows how to make the readers buy more,
for in his classic style he leaves the ending open to speculation, and the reader has to buy the next
volume in the series to find out what Archer has in store. However, in this case the result might be
guessable considering that the series is called ‘Clifton Chronicles’.
There are some good news for the Archer fans, recently he told that although he had planned on
a five-volume set with each volume spanning 20 years, it turns out that the first volume spanned
19, the second only 5 and the latest could do only 10 years, so there is a high chance that the series
might be extended to maybe a seven volume one. Whatever be the case, I am eagerly waiting for the
Title: Best Kept Secret
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Price: Rs. 350
Reviewer: Manjil P. Saikia