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Review: The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer

It’s not long since I reviewed the first in this series of books, Only Time Will Tell. If you recall, I gave that a rather positive rating, and praised the “phenomenal power of Archer’s storytelling”. I hope this demonstrates that, despite disliking the man, I’m not unduly averse to Archer’s writing, or even to this particular saga. But this second novel is terrible.

It seems to me that writing a series of novels is a difficult thing to do. There are, I think, two approaches. One can write a series of discrete plot-driven novels with connecting story arcs, whereby each novel – except perhaps the final few – stands alone, yet the sum of the novels is greater than its parts. Alternatively, one can write an epic story spanning several volumes, with small arcs satisfying the conditions of the multi-book format. What doesn’t work is splitting a continuous plot into several parts, with no obvious reason as to why the split has occurred.

This novel doesn’t stand alone, and has no more than a couple of chapter’s worth of plot in the context of the wider saga. Or perhaps 1.9 chapters, given that the single thread defining this novel is left incomplete. As a result, this book has more exceptionally dull filler than any other I’ve read.

I know that people are generally advised to “write about what you know”, but surely no-one can have failed to have groaned when a Jeffrey Archer protagonist wrote a prison diary. Nor when the same protagonist starts armed forces training. Nor when his first book sells wildly in North America, allowing a lucrative deal to be sealed for its UK distribution. Nor when a character becomes an MP. Nor when the plot moves to the House of Lords. It’s as though Archer has taken Private Eye’s Jeremy Longbow as inspiration rather than ridicule.

On a few occasions in the book, Archer seems to forget his own characters. One particularly memorable example comes towards the end, when the protagonist requires an explanation of the term “free vote”, despite displaying a voracious appetite for news and some interest in politics. Initially, I assumed that this was merely a badly deployed literary device used to explain an important plot point, but as the whole exchange was unnecessary for the plot, one can only assume that it’s another bit of filler.

The one advantage this volume has over its predecessor is that the repetitive structure, and the odd affliction of only the first chapter in each section being written in the first person, has been dropped. All other faults of the first volume remain: the ludicrous co-incidences, the politics bleeding through into the plot, the clichéd characters, and so on. Archer has promised “at least” five books in this series: at this rate, I can’t imagine there will be many readers left by the fifth.

The Sins of the Father is available now from amazon.co.uk in paperback and on Kindle.

This 1,871st post was filed under: Book Reviews, .

Photo-a-day 305: Debit card

A few months ago, I tweeted this:


The response was comprehensive – everybody else in my personal twitterverse manages not to destroy them:



So take today’s photo-a-day as my defence! The pictured card is a little under three months old. It has lived in my wallet, I haven’t done anything other than use it to pay for stuff and to get cash out of cash machines, and yet already the plastic coating is peeling away. Within the next few months, the peeling will increase in size, the card will become a complete virtually unusable mess, and I’ll have to get it replaced.

I have no explanation for why this happens. It happens across all my cards, no one provider is worse than any other, and is but one of many problems I seem to experience with bank cards failing to thrive. Does anyone have an explanation? Or, for that matter, the same problem?

This 1,870th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012.

Photo-a-day 304: Mamas and Papas

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One assumes that customers weren’t asked to rate staff members’ knowledge of possessive apostrophes…! And I’m sure I can’t be the only one who thinks those teddy bears look slightly threatening!

This 1,869th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, .

Photo-a-day 303: Liquorice selection box

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When I was younger, my nan used to buy my brother, my sister and me a liquorice selection box for Christmas, until one Christmas they seemed to no longer be sold. I was no less than amazed, therefore, to come across this in a shop… it’s almost exactly as I remember, though without the liquorice pipe which I guess isn’t considered a suitable present for kids these days!

This 1,868th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, .


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