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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
If you want a story of pure revenge, of people who get back at their deceiver, no matter what it takes, then this novel is for you. There are other novels in the same genre, but when the master story teller sets forth on the same theme, you get a novel like this. It stands apart from the rest in terms of the scenes, pace (or its variation), balance etc. There is no doubt about it.
Harvey Metcalfe, whose business acumen (irrespective of the moral connotations) had been sharpened on the streets, cons four unsuspecting investors (who are strangers to each other, but who had been baited by Harvey for carrying out his plans), with prospects of huge oil money. And they are not common folk - each of them is a notable person in his right - Stephen is an Oxford professor, Robin is a high profile physician, Jean-Pierre, a famous art dealer, and James Brigsley, an heir to earldom. They have one aspect in common - they have all been ripped off by Harvey - for a huge sum of money (million dollars).
How they join hands and get back at Harvey forms the rest of the story, in this thriller saga of revenge, with cunning and deceit. The pace never wanes any time, and I never wanted to keep the book down. If you liked the Payback movie, you are going to love this novel more, since it has 4 people wanting revenge - not a penny more, not a penny less... that is their motto, and they stand by it.
I expected a page-turner, and got one in this. It has the intelligence, pace, language, plot, characters - all that makes this a great novel, which is expected from a novelist of such acclaim as Archer. I read this after finishing Kane and Abel and The Prodigal Daughter, and should say that this novel is devoid of any unnecessary digressions, in spite of handling at least four players.
Do they finally succeed in their enterprise? The way Archer has written the ending of the novel is worth noticing. You have to read it till the end to get the thrill (and the fun)
Must buy for long weekends, long journeys, or simply anytime you want to spend your time with a good novel. I would recommend this book to all my friends.
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on 31 January 2012
Harvey Metcalfe is a rags to riches personality who grew up in the States in the early twentieth century to become a multi-millionaire by the mid 1960s through a series of deceitful transactions. A real chancer he first got on his way to wealth through, "Borrowing," an investor's $50,000 investment subscription and through inside information buying shares in an oil company.

(As a side note I have just recently started his novel : "Kane and Abel," and it appears Mr Archer is keenly interested in self made men. No doubt as he concerns himself to be one too).

Mr Metcalfe launches a company called Prospecta Oil which is paper company which has taken a cheap licence to drill for oil in the North Sea off the coast of Great Britain. He lures four investors onboard and sells his stake out in stages at the top of the market causing these four large investors to be sitting on large paper losses.

I enjoyed this novel because it is racy, and is a real page turner, (Archer seems to be the master at this). The four disgruntled investors get in touch with one another and determine to recoup their collective losses from Harvey for not a penny more, not a penny less. (Presumably this rule is due to the pedantry of the investor who is a scholar from Oxford University!)

I won't ruin it by revealing the spoiler but that is another reason why I enjoyed the read. I love a good twist in the tail!
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on 23 March 2013
I am not one to be overly critical of someone who is clearly an accomplished writer but.....
This is obviously one of Mr Archers 1st if not the first published, I have not checked.
I am reading the third instalment of the Clifton chronicles an the difference in the quality of his writing in this most recent effort and Not a Penny is vast.
Not a Penny is a readable effort and a good concept but it is far fetched and the characters feel like they belong in the 1920's. No wonder our yankee friends think everywhere in Britain is like London and everyone is a lord or lady that reside in the upper classes.
I want to call it a twist at the end but its more of a "you are joking moment" As coincidences go its a whopper and was not really needed. It devalued the whole story for me and I thought Mr Archer could have found another way to introduce the female party rather than a far fetched chance encounter on a train.
I read this because I like Archer the author and had not read not a penny.
All I can say is he has developed way beyond this early effort and I would suggest giving it a miss especially if you are thinking of going back to this having read his more renowned books.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 May 2013
This is Jeffrey Archer's first novel written in 1976. And is the first of his novels that I have ever read. I have to say that i thoroughly enjoyed it and I thought it was well written. Four men are swindled out of a total of $1,000,000 (a lot of money in 1976) by an unscrupulous con man. The novel tells of their plans to obtain their money back in vary elaborate ways. A great and easy to read novel.

Note on the Kindle version. On the whole it was vary good with the exception of numbers. More often than not the numbers in, for example, amounts of money suffered from too many spaces and just looked odd. For example $1,250 became $1, 25 0; $256,000 became $2, 56,0 00. It was most odd and a little irritating. Other than that the bulk of the text was perfect.

I shall certainly be looking at reading another of Jeffrey Archer's novels.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2007
I really enjoyed this book. I won't write what it's about since everyone else has covered it quite thoroughly. However, I returned to it many times to read again passages that I found particularly enjoyable. I can pick it up, open it at a random page and instantly be engrossed once more. As a matter of fact I find that with many of Archer's books.

Certainly that's the kind of thing that makes him a bestselling writer, but does bestselling mean `great'?

I don't know. What does `great' mean? I tried reading One Hundred Years of Solitude (which is supposed to be a great book) a few years ago, and gave up after 300 pages when I couldn't remember who was related to whom any more. On the other hand, I have loved Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird since I was a teenager. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Is Archer a great writer? Who cares? For me, `Not a penny...' is a great read, and that's what counts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2013
When I first read this many years ago I could not put it down and considered it the best story i had ever read.
Still excellent as my memory is bad so had forgotten lots
Led to me being a real fan of jeffery Archer and reading everything he writes.
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on 2 August 2013
Streetwise and a wily business man, Harvey Metcalfe, wins the confidence of four investors into a highly lucrative but bogus business venture on the strength of its prospect to deliver wealth in extremis to all.

To begin with, the four, each far less streetwise but distinguished eminent men and intelligent in their own right, do not know each other - until the light begins to dawn that they are being cheated and the connection is made between them in a sort of solidarity pact of revenge against con man Metcalfe.

The plot is fueled on cunning, deceit and revenge, if you want a page turner, but there is the bonus of more than the shallow con man and his avengers in this, in so far as the deceiver is outplayed at his game.
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on 4 October 2013
I have read Archer novels in no particular order and have enjoyed them all to varying degrees. I understand that this novel was his first and this seems obvious to me having read many of Archer's subsequent outputs. The novel is enjoyable and is a very quick read. I imagine it will however be forgettable in the time it takes me to write this review. The plot skips along at Archers usual pace but relies upon a few too many improbabilities. I am not sure why the protagonists were so motivated as to only reclaim "not a penny more, not a penny less". For me this diluted the revenge that was at the centre of the plot.
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on 27 June 2013
What a wonderful story - I'd recommend it to anyone. It is gripping and has a vein of humour running through it. I came to Jeffrey Archer quite late in my life although I knew he'd written 'some' books but somehow thought I wouldn't like them. How wrong I was; now I can't get enough of them. This one in particular is so well written that you feel you know the characters, and what a collection they are, especially the one who keeps them on the straight and narrow. It's better for you to read the synopsis than for me to tell you what the story's about, but I don't think you'll be disappointed if you buy this..
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on 9 June 2014
In his usual magnificent style, Jeffrey Archer has captivated me yet again with his ability to write a great story.
His intelligent and creative storyline never lets you down; the twist at the end is clever and his characters original and credible.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all ages and stages of readers as his writing is easy to read, engaging to the end and beautifully crafted.
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