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To Cut a Long Story Short
ISBN 006018552X / 9780060185527 / 0-06-018552-X
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To Cut a Long Story Short reads like a series of modern fairy tales. In each story, Jeffrey Archer presents a moral problem, and a character finds himself tested in a dark hour. Evil manifests itself in the form of selfish relatives, corrupt cops, racist men. Good arrives in the form of unselfish minor characters who suddenly emerge as the real center of the story, or lost souls who come out the other side of corruption and renounce their old ways.
In "The Endgame" Cornelius Barrington decides to fake a bankruptcy. As one of the richest men in his small town, he hopes his sudden plunge into poverty will reveal the true character of his friends and relatives. He calls in debts, asks to borrow money from those he has lent to in the past, only to be turned away time and again.
After lunch Cornelius took a bus into town--a novel experience. It was some time before he located a bus stop, and then he discovered that the conductor didn't have change for a twenty pound note. His first call after he had been dropped off in the town centre was to the local estate agent, who didn't seem surprised to see him. Cornelius was delighted to find how quickly the rumour of his financial demise must be spreading."The Endgame" is a complex tale with a clear message. Not all the stories in To Cut a Long Story Short attempt such weightiness. "The Expert Witness" is a delightful parody of the legal system, a portrait of two pub mates--a lawyer and an expert witness--who often find themselves facing off in the courtroom, pretending not to know each other. Certain pieces (glimpses, vignettes) last a mere two pages, but whatever the length or weight of the story, throughout this collection Archer has a light touch, a quick wit, and a thorough understanding of the mechanics of suspense. --Emily White [via]