The fifth of Archer’s Clifton Chronicles begins with a bang before heading on to only slightly less explosive ground as Archer examines his fictional clan's financial, political and personal contretemps in the 1960s.
Emma Barrington Clifton’s family company, Barrington Shipping, has launched the luxury liner MV Buckingham, but her arch enemy, Don Pedro Martinez, an Argentinian gangster and Nazi sympathizer, hires the Irish Republican Army to sabotage its maiden voyage. Husband Harry foils the dastardly deed by noticing an irregular royal signature. Later, son Sebastian discovers banking fraud perpetrated against his mentor Cedric Hardcastle’s prosperous London bank, Farthings. Sebastian subsequently earns multiple pounds sterling but alienates his fiancee, Samantha, an American diplomat’s daughter. Sir Giles Barrington, Emma's brother, has political woes, some self-inflicted; he goes all love-at-first-sight with Karin Pengelly, an East German interpreter with an English father. Concurrently, Harry lobbies to free Anatoly Babakov, Russian English-language interpreter and author of an exposé of Stalin. That adventure concludes in Leningrad with Harry arrested and put on "show trial." Meanwhile, Emma’s in court defending herself against libel charges brought by vile former sister-in-law Lady Virginia. There’s a hole or two—Sebastian’s 180-degree character turn, Harry’s show trial getting no international press—but Archer packs a plot with thrills and chills enough for readers to keep turning the pages, saying What’s gonna happen next? Characters shop Harrods, pop champagne corks, dine at the right clubs and enjoy a cameo appearance by real-life Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. When Lady Virginia’s stalking horse, Alex Fisher, exits stage left, the cast adds deep-pocketed Turkish financier Hakim Bishara, son of a carpet merchant and a prostitute, who (materially) appreciates the Clifton anti-snob mindset.
Expect once more unto the breach: The conclusion’s a turbo-charged cliffhanger that’ll have fans screaming Arrrcherr!