by Jeffrey Archer

vg++ Harper Collins paperback 1st edition
ISBN: 0006478727
ISBN13: 978-0006478720
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Contemporary
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Language: English
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; (Reissue) edition (1997)
Pages: 256 pages
ePUB size: 1212 kb
FB2 size: 1121 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 832
Other Formats: azw lrf rtf mobi

This is a cute little story of four men scammed by a supreme con artist. They form a cabal dedicated to recovering what they'd lost in a stock scam, "not a penny more, not a penny less" (plus expenses.) Each man is to come up with a plan to recover a portion of the total sum. There is a sweet little twist near the last quarter of the book and one is never sure how the fifth "man" in the plot will work out.

The sketch of the con man Harvey Metcalfe and his early life is excellent, but he soon is pushed to the background as the four men take over in their plot to revenge themselves. I found that was a flaw in the book. Archer is a master of creating characters and when one who is so important to the story becomes sort of a dummy, it is annoying.

Don't expect the type of family saga Archer is so adept at writing. This is a cute little tale about revenge, with the usual Archer twists and turns. Some people LOVE this novel and consider it one of his best, but I found it basically light reading and not as enjoyable as any of the Clifton novels. However, as a summer "beach read" it's just about perfect. It would have made a great film with Alec Guinness, I can just see it in my head!
Archer's first novel shows his penchant for the 'revenge crime', and the white-collar settings of the business and society worlds.
The story is fairly straightforward, with some dry patches that keep the book from ranking among Archer's later classics(having recently read 'A Prisoner of Birth', it's interesting to see how Archer learned to create more nuanced characters.)
The 'gang' in this story aren't fleshed out a great deal,compared to protagonists in some of Archer's other works, but eventually, they start to grow on the reader...particularly James, although some of Jean-Pierre's unexpectedly funny lines are also memorable. The touches of humor enhance the story without detracting from it too much...with the possible exception of a few scenes at Oxford! Of course, Harvey is mostly played for laughs, after Archer establishes him with an autobiographical opening that drags on just a bit too long. However, it succeeds in showing that Harvey is a better actor and con man than he is an actual businessman(which accounts for his un-bussinesslike behavior and reactions in some scenes, as other reviewers have complained about),Archer does a good job of peeling away Harvey's reputation for shrewdness, and illustrates the ultimate futility of such convoluted schemes.
While the plot doesn't quite race along from start to finish, it's a pleasnt ride. A few well-placed topical references(topical at the time of publication, at least), and the occasional cameo by such historical luminaries as Harold McMillan, Billie Jean King, and Linda Lovelace(Archer should have had the three of them walk into a pub!), and the obligatory 'Archer twist',add up to a fairly good start for the future Lord Archer's second career!
This book reflects the lighter side of Archer's work. 4 men are scammed into investing in a start-up oil company formed purely for the purpose of the scam. One of them is actually in the employ of the oil company.

He turns up for work one day to find the doors locked and the owner unreachable. The shares then go down in price faster than Enron stock.

This man takes it upon himself to gather up the other 3 major investors and form 4 plans to scam the owner with the intention of getting their money back; not a penny more, not a penny less.

There's a lot of comedic play between the men, which I'm not used to in Archer's work but, it works. The characters are well developed and, their parts play well.

There are the usual twists and turns but, you get the feeling Archer was in a lighthearted mood when he wrote the book.

It's a fast read and, again, another Archer novel thoroughly enjoyed.
Gold Crown
Human nature is comprised of the predators and the naïve. In Archer's novel dealing with the stock market, wolves bait the hook with greed and catch the naïve, the sheep. Normally, the sheep would be left for dead, but in this ironic novel they get their revenge. The stock markets emotions, greed and fear, will no doubt never change nor will the preConfessions of a Day Tradersence of the wolves. The sheep in this novel should be considered among the lucky few.
I love Archer's writing, and I'm only making it through some of his earlier works now. This is one of his better ones.

Summary: an English physician, American professor, French art dealer and an English lord put together four cons to get their money back - penny for penny - from the evil man that conned them.

Here's my two pennies worth of what I liked and it's drawbacks:
- Wonderfully creative premise, executed with cleverness and fun rather than testoterone driven anger one sees so much of in revenge plots.
- Enjoyable characters.
- A quick read and page-turning action.
- Written back in the 70's. Though this version has been slightly updated. It is a pretty timeless tale, and the only time it distracted me was when they began using some fancy spy radios to communicate - when nowadays they'd just use cell phones.

BOTTOM LINE: Enjoyable and easy read - just right for the pool or plane trip.
Every once in a while, I get on a HUGE thriller/mystery kick. I once spent months reading almost every Kay Scarpetta book by Patricia Cornwell. I'll get to those reviews at some point. So I was looking for another author to fill my thriller fix when I came across Jeffrey Archer.

Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less was an up and down thrill ride for sure. It was filled with plotting and revenge, skepticism and blind trust and lots of money! It's set in some exotic locations which add to it's intrigue and keeps you guessing right up until the end. Great read!

-Just My Opinion ([...] or twitter @JustmyopinionNH or Facebook [...])