Jeffrey (Howard) Archer E. S. Turner - Essay

E. S. Turner

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Archer] has written a tale [Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less] about four men who, collectively, are cheated out of a million dollars and who resolve to steal back the money from the swindler. There could be a moral here for other public figures who have seen their financial dreams dissolve. We have had plenty of "inside" political novels, by Douglas Hurd and others, so why not the inside business novel?

Jeffrey Archer's ingenious plot, with its echoes of Edgar Wallace and vintage Sexton Blake, is the sort to take the public fancy. The novel has a curious racy innocence all its own. It is told with that name-dropping and logging of train times that is thought to lend authenticity…. There are walk-on parts for people as diverse as Lord Lichfield, Linda Lovelace and Harold Macmillan. Yet sophisticated it is not….

The pace is quick, but would have been quicker if the author had not lingered to tell us irrelevant facts about the staffing of The Times, the square footage of the American embassy in London and so on. The reader has time to strain at gobbets he might otherwise have swallowed….

E. S. Turner, "Four Unjust Men," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1976; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3887, September 10, 1976, p. 1098.