As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

September 4, 2011

NOT A PENNY MORE, NOT A PENNY LESS by Jeffrey Archer, 1986

Not a Penny More, Not a Penny LessThe conned: an Oxford don, a revered society physician, a chic French art dealer, and a charming English lord. They have one thing in common. Overnight, each novice investor lost his life's fortune to one man. The con: Harvey Metcalfe. A brilliant, self-made guru of deceit. A very dangerous individual. And now, a hunted man. With nothing left to lose four strangers are about to come together-each expert in their own field. Their plan: find Harvey, shadow him, trap him, and penny-for-penny, destroy him. From the luxurious casinos of Monte Carlo to the high-stakes windows at Ascot to the bustling streets of Wall Street to fashionable London galleries, their own ingenious game has begun. It's called revenge-and they were taught by a master. (Amazon)

Review by Jessica Day George, Author and Bookshop Talk Host

Four men from entirely different backgrounds have just had their money stolen by a very clever and very unscrupulous man.  It all seemed perfectly above board, but when the “secret oil strike” is revealed as a hoax, three of them are too embarrassed to do more than take the loss and slink away.  But the fourth, an Oxford don, turns to research for consolation and builds a dossier on the man who swindled them.  Then he approaches his fellow losers: a privileged young lord, a suave doctor, and a French art dealer, and proposes that they each use their own special talents to get their money back: not a penny more, and not a penny less.

This is one of the greatest books of all time.  Seriously.  It just is.  If you love Ocean’s 11, you’ll love this book.  Not only do they want the money back that they invested, but they want to make sure that interest is covered, along with any expenses they incur in the process.  The careful accounting is part of the joy of this book, along with the insanely clever schemes they cook up.  I read this book several times in high school, mainly because I was in love with Lord James Brigsley, and when he dresses up like a 90-year-old man . . . I can’t even think of that scene without laughing myself to tears.  And I was a little in love with the other characters, too, from the nerdy professor Stephen, to the suave Robin (whose main job as a doctor is to tell wealthy patients that they’re fine) and the debonair Jean-Pierre.  The dialogue between the four conspirators is always crackling with wit, and the twists and turns that their schemes take delight and surprise.  The book was written the year I was born, so it was a bit dated when I read it in high school, and is (obviously) even more dated now, but don’t let that deter.  Mostly, the money involved is no longer astronomical, and there are a few things that seem a bit sexist, but hopefully nothing that will turn away a reader.
Warning: some time in the 1990’s a truly HORRID miniseries was made starring Ed Asner and Ed Begley Jr.  I am loath to speak of it, it was so awful, except to say: terrible miscasting, and changes made that completely ruined the charm and hilarity of the book.  Why? Why? WHY?! Just avoid it and read the book, I beg of you!

Market: Adult Fiction
Language: Mild- some deity-based profanity, perhaps a few d---‘s  or h---‘s
Sensuality: Mild, of the “Then he closed the bedroom door” variety.
Violence: None
Mature Themes: Revenge, non-violent crime, unnecessary (but not graphic) surgery, implied infidelity.

Book formats:

No comments: