Jeffrey (Howard) Archer

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Martin Levin

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["Kane and Abel"] is a family saga that is overweight but undernourished. Jeffrey Archer, a former British M.P., is a writer unskilled at showing you how things are. He merely tells you what they are. (Florentyna "put on the prettiest dress." Anne Kane "enjoyed a light lunch.") Descriptions that don't describe contribute an air of staleness to the atmosphere. In this thin climate, Abel crosses the sea to America and becomes a hotel baron. (He names each hotel The Baron because his father was one.) Kane takes over the family bank and has occasion to incur Abel's enmity. It's really a big misunderstanding, but there isn't enough life in either of these parties to make you care if they ever make up. (pp. 9, 15)

Martin Levin, "Five Novels," in The New York Times Book Review (copyright © 1980 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), July 6, 1980, pp. 9, 15.∗

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