Author of the Month

Name: Jeffrey Archer

First Novel:

Most Recent Book: Hidden In Plain Sight

'...one of the best storytellers around today. '

Synopsis:
Newly promoted, Detective Sergeant William Warwick has been reassigned to the drugs squad. His first case: to investigate a notorious south London drug lord known as the Viper.

But as William and his team close the net around a criminal network unlike any they have ever encountered, he is also faced with an old enemy, Miles Faulkner. It will take all of William’s cunning to devise a means to bring both men to justice; a trap neither will expect, one that is hidden in plain sight…

Review:
Archer is such a masterful and consummate teller of tales that only after a few pages in, he sweeps away his reader. Archer is not shy at showing that Warwick has his failings as well as being a hero, and even then, not everything goes according to plan. It makes William Warwick more human which is something Archer is adept at doing. Not only does he concentrate on Warwick’s job, but also his personal life with an upcoming wedding and a baby on the way. As usual, nothing goes smoothly and even at his wedding someone is out to cause mischief!

Familiar faces are back from the first book with roles to Warwick’s father and sister, Sir Julian and Grace doing their best in a riveting courtroom sequence to nail down rogue, Miles Faulkner who is up to his usual tricks and doing his level best to cheat his soon to be ex-wife out of her settlement. Is it wrong of me to like Miles, while at the same time not trusting him an inch? There isn’t much of a gap between Faulkner and his dodgy QC, Booth Watson who has his own racket going on, although Watson does not bring off the bounder vibe quite like Faulkner.

I flew through Archer’s latest adventure, especially as the net drew tighter on The Viper. It really was a case of sparks rising flying from the pages as I was turning them so fast!! Some things appear to be tied up, but as with life, there are enough loose ends to be picked up in the next book, and Archer has left plenty of tasty morsels hanging to be equally enthralling. If you want a thumping good read this Christmas, then Archer will transport you back to the 80s with Warwick and co. Highly entertaining from one of the best storytellers around today.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating



Questionnaire

1) Your new series about William Warwick has his origins in the Clifton Chronicles series of seven books. What made you want to start a series about a fictional character written by a fictional character of yours?
William Warwick was the eponymous hero of Harry Clifton in the Clifton Chronicles, and several readers wrote in and said they’d like to know more about him.
2) In ‘Nothing Ventured’ you delved into art forgery and in this latest Warwick and the team are in 1986 and involved with pinning down a drugs baron. Did you have to do much research on police procedure as it would have been much different from present times?
I had to do a great deal of research into drugs, as it wasn’t a subject I knew much about. However, as you’ll see from the acknowledgements, I was able to draw on the knowledge and experience of three outstanding former officers – Robin Bhairam (Detective Superintendent rtd.), John Sutherland (Chief Superintendent rtd.), and Michelle Roycroft (Detective Sergeant rtd.).
3) You always have a soft spot for a loveable rogue and Miles Faulkner fits that niche perfectly. He is your typical man who is charismatic, but you would count the family silver before he left your house! Have you met many Miles Faulkner’s in your time?
I’ve come across many combinations of Miles Faulkner in my lifetime. If you move in the world of politics, art, theatre, it’s inevitable, I’m afraid. However, as you point out, the surprising thing is how many readers enjoy the colourful rogues often more than the straight down the line, honest characters.
4) Many of your novels go back in time and are quite epic, (Kane and Abel, Clifton Chronicles, As The Crow Flies). As with this new series with William Warwick do you get nostalgic for the days when there was less technology and any crime had to be solved by hard, honest police work?
I chose the period of my lifetime in which to set the William Warwick series, but if I live long enough, you will see him go from DC to Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, so I suspect the final novel in the series in several years’ time, will be more up to date.
5) I love the courtroom drama of your books and especially the chemistry between father and daughter, Sir Julian and Grace Warwick, William’s father and sister. It is quite well documented that you have attended court yourself, so I wonder if even during your court appearances you were still taking notes to use for a book in the future? Also, are there many Booth Watson’s in the legal profession?
I have had some considerable court experience myself, but I’ve always loved the drama of barristers, judges and juries, and indeed wrote a play called Beyond Reasonable Doubt, some 40 years ago, so it’s been a long-term fascination.
6) Sorry if I make you ‘feel old’, but as a teen in the late 80s my Dad pressed a book in my hand and told me to read it. That was the one and only time he ever did that as he was not a big book reader. The book was ‘Kane and Abel’ which even now has stayed in my mind and got me reading your books. You have a huge readership. What do you put down to your longevity?
Frankly I’m as surprised as anyone at the longevity of Kane and Abel, which is now on its 123rd edition and still selling strongly. I think in the end, storytellers survive.
7) Do you have a strict timetable for writing? Has lockdown had any effect on how you work? What are you planning next? Will it be under Rhiannon Ward and can we expect more of the supernatural in your next novel?
I usually work from 6-8am, 10-12, 2-4pm, 6-8pm, but during lockdown I switched to three sessions, to get in my hour’s walk after lunch. So I ended up writing for 144 days from 6-8, 10-12, and 3-5, doing 900 hours of writing. During that time, I produced book three in the William Warwick series, called Turn A Blind Eye, which will be out next spring.
8) With your experience as a writer, what advice would you give to anyone attempting their first novel?
Make sure you’ve got the story in your mind before you pick up a pen, and don’t – I repeat don’t – show it to anyone after you’ve finished the first draft. My last book was 14 drafts.
9) Are you a fan of crime fiction? If so, which three crime novels would you like with you if stranded on a desert island?
I’ve always enjoyed crime novels, and like so many school children came to them through Sherlock Holmes and later Ian Fleming. More recently I’ve enjoyed Colin Dexter. But I have attempted in my stories to make them very much character driven, with William, Beth, Miles Faulkner, Sir Julian and Grace. The family saga side appeals to me just as much as the crimes William is trying to solve. But with this particular series, every one of the novels can be read as a standalone story.

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