Jeffrey (Howard) Archer

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Valentine Cunningham

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Jeffrey Archer's [Shall We Tell the President?] creaks with keenness to straighten out for you every fact in his dossiers. Here's a plot to shoot President Edward Kennedy, and plausible enough it's made, especially if you like watching repeats of old movies. There's even a nicely developed if obvious set of parallels with Julius Caesar—man and drama. But it's the manner of the author's address to his narrative that irks most. He's a swot who will show off his busyness about the Washington street-map, constitutional amendments, FBI history and the layout of the Senate. Naturally, the FBI agent who unravels the plot spends his time posing as a student doing research, for what else has his author been doing? Index cards and their dimensions keep getting mentioned: sure signs of an outsider's story. And good novels are inside stories.

Valentine Cunningham, "Lacklust," in New Statesman (© 1977 The Statesman & Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.), Vol. 94, No. 2433, November 4, 1977, p. 625.∗

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Charles Wheeler


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