The name of Jeffrey Archer is synonymous with bestsellers, and he is the only author to have been on the best seller list in the fiction, non-fiction and short stories section. Archer combines a tenacity and zeal for writing and storytelling that has not been surpassed by anyone probably since the great Alexandre Dumas. However, the latest offering of Archer titled, ‘The Sins of The Father‘,the second instalment to his Clifton Chronicles fails to amaze us or think that a master story telleris at work. The plot is quite uninteresting as many parts of the book can be guessed by seasoned Archer fans. This is the third time that Archer has disappointed me (the first time when he went to prison and the second time when he wrote Cat O’ Nine Tales). However, in spite of this lacklustre performance there are certain positives of the book. Archer has a sense of characterization that can be sometimes called haunting. In terms of sheer beauty of the scenes recreated probably there is no living equal.
The plot again like the first volume of The Clifton Chronicles revolves around Harry Clifton, the poor lad who schooled in Bristol and went on to Oxford and then on to the navy. The book starts right where the earlier book ended with Harry in New York where he is trialled for murder andgets a six year sentence. This fact remains unknown to everyone apart from a New York attorney. However Emma, his lady love whom he could not marry due to a problem with the legitimacy of his father; still harbours hope that Harry might be alive somewhere. Putting two and two together Emma makes some guesses and reaches New York in search of Harry. Her search went on foryears until finally she tracked down Harry to England. In the meanwhile Hugo Barrington, Emma’s father and probably Harry’s illegitimate father tries all that he can to squander his inheritance,however like the end of every villain he is slewed by a woman whom he double crossed in an attempt to keep up his lavish lifestyle. The other main character of the plot Giles Barrington, Harry’s closest friend and Hugo’s legitimate son meanwhile serves in Africa where he is honoured for his gallantry. He escapes from a WWII German PoW Camp and then returns triumphant to his motherland and becomes a politician. However, things don’t go smooth as the question of Hugo’sheir rises and Harry and Giles are pushed into a battlefield which neither wants to go. The book ends leaving their fates in the air.
Like his earlier books, this one too ended with suspense and intrigue. Archer leaves us in doubt as to which one of the gentlemen would inherit the heir to the Barrington estate. We shall have to wait till the end of 2013 to find this out when the third instalment of the Clifton Chronicles are due to arrive. Unlike his other works, this book seems to be too predictable at times and is dismay for seasoned Archer readers. Some incidents seemed to be repeated from earlier works or gives a feeling of deja vu to the writer. Probably in his effort to create a new blend of storytelling, Archermay have goofed up a bit with his style. Still, we expect that someone of the stature of Jeffrey Archer will surely bounce back with another shocker or thriller whatever one likes to call it.
This book will make excellent light reading over a weekend where one has nothing to do. However, be pre warned that the vintage Jeffrey Archer touch is missing in this narrative. Although it is not dry, but at the same time it is not piping hot waiting to be tasted and enjoyed.