The unputdownable new thriller from the No.1 bestselling author
He established a rapport with his very first book, Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less, which hit the stands some quarter of a century back. He then grew in reputation with Kane And Abel and acquired eminence with First Among Equals, a treatise on the British political system. The journalist fraternity in India had then reasons to appreciate The Fourth Estate, a book relevant to the prevailing atmosphere in the country then.
A former all England sprinter who turned politician, graduated to the British Cabinet and then was elevated to a Life Peer, Archer has even lived the role of one of his main characters in First Among Equals before spending time in jail for perjury. He has certainly experienced life at various levels. But it is as an author of over a dozen novels and collection of spicy, enthralling short stories that he will always be remembered. And this reputation is what he has set out to sustain and enhance in his latest offering False Impression.
False Impression has all the ingredients which make for an Archer special. It is, however, a book with a difference. It is an old-fashioned story with modern trappings. An ancestral home in England with a wealth in property but impoverished for cash, is where the story makes a beginning and fittingly it ends there too. In between, it takes the reader criss-crossing the Atlantic, with the main character Anna Petrescu even experiencing the most modern of terror attacks while trapped in the WTO towers on 9/11. Indeed Archer has arrived as it were; his gripping details of Anna's efforts to escape from the flaming inferno and the shaking, crashing towers being one of the highlights of False Impression.
The story revolves around a Vincent Van Gogh self portrait, a puzzle in itself, with the Dutch painter being shown having his right ear bandaged, though it is his left ear that he has cut off. It is a painting cherished by many, but only a banker in New York and a Japanese industrialist in Tokyo are within reach; one with a dubious past, the other an open book with an amiable philosophy of his own.
A gruesome murder in Wentworth estate sets off a string of events, with the Van Gogh making a long and eventful journey even as Anna sets out to not only make amends for her banker Chairman's dubious designs but also to ensure that Arabella Wentworth is not robbed of her inheritance. Anna has her work cut out, having not only to elude a hired assassin but also at the same time keep ahead of the FBI, which has now joined the fray.
Anna is perhaps one of Archer's most engaging heroines ever. Smuggled out of Romania to escape the brutal regime of President Ceausescu at 17, she quickly masters English language and after high school wins a scholarship to Williams University in Massachusetts to study art history, a subject she pursues for a Ph.D. even while shining as a top class athlete. In addition to her scholastic brilliance she has a photographic memory and can recall every painting she has ever seen in detail. It is, however, her fitness regimen which she follows religiously and her honesty which drives her to pulling off a remarkable coup, upsetting the calculations of her arch enemy and his gymnastic assassin.
Archer is one of the few detective writers still following the trail these days. He has one advantage though. He does not need to draw on the old Spy versus Spy, CIA versus KGB themes. His political background and his vast experience of human nature are a potential source of ideas for his books. And he does not disappoint in False Impression.
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