Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jeffrey Archer: Not a Penny more, not a Penny less

This was the first Jeffrey Archer that I read, and this was the first one written by him way back in 1974. It was a slow starter, but slowly picked up by word of mouth, and eventually became a big hit. The book was a bit raw, since it was his first book, but was still extremely enjoyable. The book was not terribly thick either, and was thus a good read.
So what was the book all about? It was essentially about the revenge thought up by a cold, calculating mind, that of a Harvard graduate now teaching at Oxford against a swindler. The story starts with the swindle though up by a man who has made his money by high-level cheating; in this case, Harvey Metcalfe, sells a story about an oil stock just about to hit it big. He manages to swindle 4 people out of a considerable portion of their money; Stephen Bradley, a Harvard mathematics graduate now teaching at Oxford; Robin, a physician at Harley Street; Jean-Pierre Lamans, an art dealer; and James Brigsley, a presumably vacant young English lord.
So when Stephen Bradley finds that he is now holding dud oil stock, he wants to get his money back, not exactly revenge, he just wants to get his money back, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less. He contacts the other 3 people swindled, and while initially they are unwilling to admit that they lost money, they eventually do so. He forms his own small army to get their money back. Part of the plan is that all the robbed will make their own plans to get the money back, and all of them will play their parts in each plan. The rest of the book is about how each of them make their own plans based on their own areas of knowledge, and start making a fool of Metcalfe. The amusing part is also about how they treat James Brigley as the only person who is presumably not smart enough to make his own plans; but eventually in a twist, due to romancing Metcalfe's daughter, he manages to get money back.
The last twist in the story is contained in the final 2 pages, so it is possible like I did so, where the last 2 pages were stuck together, and it is only when I read a different copy that I realized the final twist.

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