Jeffrey Archer seems to have finally completed his Clifton Chronicle Series, and is out with his latest volume of short stories. Tell Tale, is a fascinating collection of 14 stories, of people from across eras and far-fetched places. Having read Quiver Full of Arrows, his earlier story collection, I was eager to pick up his short stories again. And, I must say, I wasn’t disappointed in any way.
From Naples to Damascus, it is a journey, filled with a variety of characters. The hapless young detective and his brush with a mysterious murder, to the woman who dared to challenge the men at her Ivy League University, the pretentious school boy whose discovery of the origins of his father’s wealth changes his life in the most profound way, the stories are refreshing and engaging. Archer may have taken over a decade to grace us with his short stories, yet he still is considered the master story teller.
The stories range from simple crime to whodunit pieces, to stories on life, a man’s hard work and, on infidelity. Archer readers, may find the stories familiar (I blame it on Archer’s style of writing). But, trust me, the unexpected ending of each of the stories, would ensure any such familiarity fades away. A couple of standouts existed for me. I loved A Wasted House, where a young woman attending Stanford, hitchhikes a ride from an elderly man. The pleasantly interactive journey turns out to be a memorable one for her, with the most unexpected revelation. Who killed the Mayor was another tale that kept me hooked right until the final twist. The title of each story gives you a little hint on what to expect in the pages ahead, so pause a while to ponder over it.
A few of the pieces did seem a bit underwhelming, and it surely didn’t seem like Archer was at his best. But having set his own high standards, such disappointments are inevitable!
Nevertheless, with the unexpected endings, smooth flow of words and strong main characters, Tell Tale serves as a delightful book. If you seek a quick read, this book would be a good pick. With 14 short stories, a good prose and the right pace, Jeffrey Archer has done fairly well. Hope it isn’t another decade long wait for his readers to lay their hands on another of his collection of stories.