Mystery, Thriller+Suspense

Heads You Win- The Latest Jeffrey Archer Fiction

It often makes me wonder how some simple decisions can affect one’s life. As simple as the choices may see, they come with life altering capabilities. Heads you Win- the latest Jeffrey Archer fiction is based on a similar thought. How a single decision, on the basis of a toss of a coin can change the course of one’s life.

My love for Archer’s books goes back to my early reading years, when I savored his Kane and Abel. The book still stays with me and even years later, it keeps me engrossed despite multiple reads. This November saw me reading two Jeffrey Archer books back-to-back- Sons of Fortune and Heads You Win. Of course when you read two books by the same author back-to-back, you end up comparing the two. Where Sons of Fortune amazed me with its awesome momentum in plot, Heads You Win played it slow, yet steady.

When all that decides the fate of a man, is the toss of a coin. At stake are two lives…

It is Leningrad, Russia and the year is 1968. Alexander Karpenko the smart and intelligent young boy grows up in the warmth and care of his parents, living and learning like all teenagers around. But his content world is to be shattered soon, when his father is assassinated by the KGB. At stake are two lives- his and his mother’s. And before it is too late, they must leave the country. Their only way out is by sneaking into cargo containers that leave the shores of Russia. At a crucial crossroad, Alexander needs to decide- should he take the container that’s heading towards Britain or the one that’s America bound? How would his life turn out to be if he chose one country over the other? On the toss of a coin, his decision is made. From Leningrad, the two flee across the sea to find a new life. Over the next three decades, Alexander’s life is strewn with triumphs, failures, love and loss.

Simultaneous movement of two plots-The crux of the book

The beauty of this book lies in the dual story placed side by side. In alternate chapters, readers follow each of Alexander’s choices – Britain and America. So you have two distinct stories running simultaneously. Much as it may sound complex to have two points of views being portrayed together in one book, I must say it didn’t leave me confused. Nor did I find myself flipping pages back and forth. It all blended in so flawlessly that despite the plot progressing in a slow pace, my reading continued. Both lives of Alexander are laden with triumphs and defeats as he attempts to bury his past and accept his life as an immigrant.

Archer the master storyteller

Heads You Win is a typical Jeffrey Archer fiction. For those who are already familiar with his style, this book may seem no different. Expect the usual twists and turns that an Archer fiction often contains. He has this ability to build in a certain momentum towards the end leading up to the most unexpected final twist. Heads You Win comes with one such twist that will take you by storm. Cleverly executed in true Archer style. A tightly woven drama, with politics and history thrown in here and there (which did bore me a bit), makes the book a pretty intense read. But hang on till the end and it will turn out to be a satisfying read.  

I did have a bit of an issue with the slow pace, but then the latter half of the book picks up on the thrill factor, so I surely wouldn’t want to complain. In fact, the book starts on a decent pace, loses momentum midway and picks up yet again towards the end. Also, his characters didn’t seem all too new to me. Having read Archer books earlier, I found them to be way too similar to his previous ones.

In Conclusion

Heads you Win is still a worthwhile read. For first time Archer readers, this book may seem to be intense. But it would be a good start to get accustomed to Archer and his form of fiction. For seasoned Archer readers, give it a shot, though I wouldn’t consider this his best.

Heads You Win
Take a quick peep through this preview.
The book is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.

 

Disclaimer: This blog post contains an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission, if you click through and make a purchase.

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16 Comments

  • Shilpa Gupte

    Thanks for this review, Ramya…for I am soon planning on visiting my bookshop! 😛
    I love Archer…his Kane and Able made me fall in love with his books, so I am definitely picking up either this one or ‘Sons of fortune’….whichever I find. I have been so desperate to read some such book–not too intense on the emotions kind.

  • Shailaja V

    I confess I like Archer’s short stories the best because of his brilliant twists. It’s what inspired a lot of my flash fiction writing too.

    The plot sounds quite interesting so I MAY pick this up once I get through the absolutely abundant crop of books on my current reading pile 😀

  • Kala Ravi

    I haven’t read Archer in a while now. At one point he was a favourite. Don’t recollect which but one book of his was a disappointment and I stayed away from reading him then onwards. This looks like an interesting plot. Might just pick it up.He definitely commands your attention with his narrative style!

  • Corinne Rodrigues

    I used to enjoy Jeffrey Archer though I haven’t read his books in ages. I got a bit put off by him as a person, what with his brush with the law and all and stopped reading his books. I’m glad you enjoyed this.

  • Natasha

    Hi Ramya,

    I bought this for my older one the other day. Not a JA fan, though I read a few during my growing up years.

    Your reviews are always meticulous and detailed.

    Thank you for being one of the best book bloggers I know. 🙂

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Archer has a particular style and not many are fond of it. A lot of his books have failed me too, for example the popular Clifton Chronicle series…
      And Thanks for the lovely words Natasha :))

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Yes Saanch he is still writing, though I would say, the magic he had in his earlier books, seems to be dwindling. But I still read them :))

  • Shalzmojo

    I started worshipping JA After reading If tomorrow comes. No looking back after that and I devoured each and everyone of them. This was as a teenager.

    Later years I fell in love with his short stories collcollection as he is just the perfect master of spinning a tale with a twist.

    I no longer indulge in reading him anymore as I have started finding his plots to be pretty repetitive. I guess that happens after a while – I went through the same thing with Robin Cook , Perry mason, Dan Brown, etc….

    • Ramya Abhinand

      The reptition is more sort of a similarity in characterisation, but his plots still are one of a kind And thats what draws me to him 🙂

  • BellyBytes

    ever since I read Florentyna 35 years ago, I have loved Jeffry Archer. His books are simply clean fun with a bit of intrigue and twist in the tale. I will definitely put this on my TBR books for the new year.

  • Esha M Dutta

    Thanks for the detailed review, Ramya. Not a JA fan myself, (although I did read both Kane and Abel and Only Time Will Tell years ago and actually liked them) but I often gift them to folks. Will keep it in mind for sure.

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