These fourteen stories show Jeffrey Archer's great skills with a wide variety of character, of subject and of setting, but all with that trademark twist in the tail.
Every reader will have their own favourites: the choices run from love at first sight across the train tracks to the cleverest of confidence tricks, from the quirks of the legal profession - and those who are able to manipulate both sides of the Bar - to the creative financial talents of a member of Her Majesty's diplomatic service - but for a good cause. The last story, The Grass is Always Greener, is possibly the best piece Archer has written, and will haunt you for the rest of your life.
This collection of sometimes intriguing, sometimes obvious stories is best suited to a series of short car trips rather than one long one: the listener tends to catch on fast to the O'Henry-esque endings, so the stories are less entertaining all at a gulp. And some might well have been cut shorter. Archer is least successful when the surprise endings turn solely on legal technicalities as in "Crime Pays" and "Both Sides Against the Middle" but a lot of fun when he interweaves legal issues with the relationships among the characters as he does so well in "The Expert Witness" and "The End Game." These two particular stories also work well because, just when listeners think they've got the surprise ending, the plot thickens and twists again and then again. Some of the pieces are based on true incidents. In "A Change of Heart," for example, a South African bigot causes a car accident. The driver of the other car dies, and the bigot's life is saved by a heart transplant the heart of the black man he killed in the accident. These are lighthearted stories, and Bill Wallace's reading is marvelous. He has a pleasing voice and crisp British accent that are entirely appropriate here, and he knows how to handle humor, irony and character differentiation without overdoing it. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 11, 2000).