Tales not cream of the genre

Book: Cat O' Nine Tails

Book: Cat O' Nine Tails

Author: Jeffrey Archer

Publisher: Macmillan

Reviewer: Nthabisang Moreosele

Jeffrey Archer wrote his first bestseller Not A Penny More in six weeks when he was stone broke.

Archer, a successful writer, businessman and politician, spent two years in jail for perjury after a sex scandal.

Cat O' Nine Tails is a recount of the criminal exploits he heard about during his incarceration in several jails across the UK.

Some of the stories are simplistic and barely qualify as short stories. They are more like the tired urban legends one doesn't really believe.

The style of the stories is too loose, uninteresting and pretty obvious. The language is flat and one can hardly become engrossed in the criminals' stupid schemes or sympathise when they are caught.

But there are a few gems that redeem the book from being a total throwaway.

Maestro is delightful and the simple and obvious twists in the tale evoke the old Archer magic pen.

It Can't Be October Already is a poor echo of John Mortimer's Rumpole series, but it is enjoyable nonetheless.

The piece de resistance is In the Eye of the Beholder. It fits the requirements of a short story and holds one in thrall.

The illustrations by Ronald Searle are childish and the faint nagging feeling persists that Archer might have intended the book for teenagers.

With a bit of forethought he might have fooled his fans and regained his standing as a great writer.