Archer (Only Time Will Tell, 2011, etc.) continues The Clifton Chronicles with hero Harry Clifton still in harm’s way.
New readers will catch up early on. World War II: Harry is convicted in state (not military) court for military desertion. Next a hoary cliché: a genial, wise old convict protects new prisoner Harry, the fresh fish. Characters receive alternating segments. First, Harry is sent to trial and prison. Then Emma Barrington, whose relationship to Harry is murky, departs England for the U.S., leaving behind a child Harry doesn't know has been born. Next comes Giles Barrington, Emma’s brother and Harry’s best friend. Despite period colloquial references, the prose has been Flesch-Kincaid-scrubbed to business-grade level. That aside, Archer can plot a story. Harry gets out of prison, along with his old convict buddy, by volunteering for a military special operations group, only to reappear near story’s end to single-handedly capture Nazi Field Marshal Kertel’s Nineteenth Armoured Corps. Emma learns Sefton Jelks, Wall Street attorney, was paid by a wealthy client to finagle Harry into prison. Jelks later is complicit in the theft of Harry’s The Diary of a Convict, which becomes a bestseller under another convict’s name. Giles becomes a hero at Tobruk, a prisoner of war, and then escapes. Emma and Gile’s grandfather, Sir Walter, dies, and his ne’er-do-well son Hugo takes over the family business. He promptly runs the company aground but receives his comeuppance. Finally, the cast gathers in post-war England, where a paternity case is settled once and for all.
An amusement suitable for airplane or beach reading.