Jeffrey Archer for all his faults can tell a good tale. This is a collection of fifteen short stories, ten of which are apparently based on true events, as Mr Archer did time for perjury, his handle on what might be true is unreliable. His time at HMP Belmarsh would have served as useful background research for “Double-Cross” where a fence shares a cell in Belmarsh with a diamond thief.
“Never judge a book by its cover,” Arnold’s mother used to tell him.
The title “And Thereby Hangs a Tale” is taken from a line in Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”.
Many of the stories have twists in the tale, some are more surprising than others. The protagonists tend to be male and middle class with names like Julian or Jeremy or Percy.
It is a mixed assortment of stories, some are better than others.
There is a lot about money and about status, for me the most tedious of the tales was about a man who wanted to become a member of a golf club (“Members Only“).
“Politically Correct” is one of the better stories, a story with contemporary resonance, where a banker suspects his dark-skinned neighbour of being, a terrorist. There is an interesting twist in that tale.
“The UnDiplomatic Diplomat” is a charming tale of an English eccentric, who camps out on an island in the North Sea for 90 days in order to make a name for himself and secure the island for the Queen.
The stories are an ideal length for my metro journeys, and might even be considered suitable for Reading in the Smallest Room.
My rating : 4 out of 5