A MATTER OF HONOR by Jeffrey Archer
Kirkus Star


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A matter of sheer nonsense is more like it--as a ruthless Soviet agent chases an young Englishman all around 1966 Europe? Why so? Because the Englishman has got his hands on a priceless Russian icon that contains a super-duper secret document of some kind: ""it would make all of Kennedy's efforts over Cuba look like so much piss in a thunderstorm. . ."" (The year 1866 is a big hint). This time, then, the shamelessly derivative Mr. Archer (Kane and Abel, etc.) is recycling the Buchan/Hitchcock formula with a modicum of mindless energy and foolish flair. His hero is Adam Scott, whose noble father has died in disgrace, still blamed for allowing Goering to commit suicide back in '45. So Adam is thrilled when his father's will leads to papers proving that Scott Sr. was innocent--and to a stolen Russian icon stashed by Goering in a Swiss bank. What Adam doesn't know, however, is that steely KGB man Alex Romanov is on the trail of that very same icon--which contains the above-mentioned document. And once Adam and new girlfriend Heidi pick up the icon in Switzerland the mayhem begins: Romanov (master of disguises) kills Heidi in a failed attempt at grabbing the icon; Adam, blamed for the murder, is a hunted man, of course, pursued by Swiss cops as well as KGB assassins; befriended by a svelte British musician (on tour), he eludes them all, gets a fake passport, is rescued by a UK plane--but has to bail out in France. Then comes a boat chase, a train chase, a sneaky visit to the Louvre, capture (complete with torture-interrogation) by the KGB--before escape to England and a final series of showdowns with lethal archenemy Romanov. Archer throws in two halfhearted subplots as well: a mole to be unmasked (yes, yet again) at British Intelligence; and cartoon-villain Romanov's bloody attempts to keep his own Swiss-bank fortune a secret from the KGB. But the modest, predictable entertainment here arises almost entirely from the old Buchan chase routines--with a blandly likable hero, a few charmers among the supporting cast, competently hectic action. . .and a truly ludicrous McGuffin.

Pub Date: July 11th, 1986
Publisher: Linden/Simon & Schuster