“My lord, if a man cannot express his honestly held views in the Central Criminal Court, perhaps you can advise me where else he is free to state that which he believes to be the truth?”
This is the magnitude to which the book tells the truth of many situations in life and frankly of life itself, and largely how I will review this masterpiece that will be read, reread and read again.
The protagonist is a hardworking British gentleman who is going places in life, having just proposed his girlfriend to receive a positive reply. The turn of events that happens after sees the readers connect with the character and help him along the journey as the story twists and turns.
The story is fundamentally based on the differences between the propertied and the commoner. The beauty of the story lies in the fact that it seamlessly switches from one point of view to another.
The story sets out to explain his journey from being wrongly convicted for the murder of his brother in law to clearing his name and taking revenge upon the socially powerful, wealthy people who are under a false impression that nothing can do can be placed against them. The book brings out all the sides for every character and paints each one without bias, as can be seen from:
“I have discovered with advancing years that few things are entirely black or white, but more often different shades of grey.”
“We all suffer in our different ways from being prisoners of birth.”
It brings out very well the astute nature of the protagonist who engineers a seemingly impossible task that hasn’t and will not be recreated anytime soon.
Archer sets up the plot slowly for 400 words which are a grind to read but are essential to the storyline. The story speeds up after that and wraps up in a refreshing finale in the courtroom.
Characterisation of the supporting characters is explicable and without any major (or minor) holes.
Clearly sectioned into parts to offer a boundary where the story turns, it also maintains continuity in classic Jeffrey Archer style. The dimension of time is used particularly cleverly as last quarter of the book spans a month while the other part covers significantly more.
Inspiration from The Count of Monte Cristo can be seen based on the story.
It hits close to home literally as family values hog the limelight good chunks of the book. That is well represented by characters like Munro and Redmayne.
It makes the readers yearn for a sequel after the courtroom scene, even though the ending is conclusive. All in all this book is a sure read.
– Srivaths Parsuraman