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by Jeffrey Archer

Pub Date: July 27th, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-017944-9
Publisher: HarperCollins

With this tiresome collection of stories planted with misleading clues, Archer (Honor Among Thieves, 1993, etc.) fails in his bid to be an O. Henry for the '90s. There is one big giveaway in almost all these stories (some of which were inspired by actual events): If there is a female character, chances are good that she has done something bad, or at least stupid. The narrator of 'Trial and Error'—the most suspenseful selection—is an imprisoned man whose wife was having an affair with a business associate and, he claims, framed him for the man's murder. In 'Cheap at Half the Price' a woman who is counting on alimony from her past, present, and future husbands, manipulates her husband into paying for only half of an expensive necklace yet still manages to take the piece of jewelry home. The narrator of 'Chunnel Vision'—a writer—tells of his dinner with a fellow writer named Duncan in New York, where the latter's soon-to- be-ex-girlfriend joins them and orders lavishly from the expensive menu while Duncan outlines his next novel verbally. 'You'll Never Live to Regret It' details an attempted insurance scheme using a neuter-name trick straight out of a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch. 'An Eye For an Eye' follows a lawyer asked to defend a woman who is accused of having murdered her husband but claims that it would have been impossible for her to commit the crime because she is blind. 'One Man's Meat' reads like a writing-class assignment: A man on his way to work spots a beautiful woman entering a theater; he parks his car in the street in order to dash after her and manages to grab the seat next to her. Then Archer offers four different outcomes for their relationship: 'Rare,' 'Burnt,' 'Overdone,' and ' Point.' The formidable storytelling skills apparent in Archer's novels are more cleverly concealed than the clues here. ($365,000 ad/promo; author tour)