Forgotten Book: Twelve Red Herrings by Jeffrey Archer

Jeffrey Archer’s Kane and Abel was perhaps the first popular adult novel that I read. And boy was it a revelation. I loved the story of the two dogmatic men and thought Archer was simply great. That view came crashing down with the next book that I read of his: A Matter of Honour. I thought he was being dishonest with his readers in that. Over the years I have read many books of his though never the one which was recommended heartily earlier on: Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less. [I remember my cousin Rahul (hardly a book reader) being really impressed by it].

Twelve Red Herrings, a collection of 12 stories, is a mixed-bag. The first one, Trial and Error, where a man is framed for murder, is boring and predictable.However, the second one – Cheap at Half the Price, where a trophy-wife wants to buy a necklace as an insurance for the future, is delightful. Other interesting stories are Shoeshine Boy, where Lord Mountbatten comes calling; Never Stop on the Motorway, where a woman is relentlessly pursued by another driver on a motorway; Do Not Pass Go, where a former minister in Saddam Hussein’s cabinet, now living in the US, is forced to land in Iraq; and An Eye for an Eye, in which the defending lawyer is convinced that his client did in fact murder her husband.

The last story, One Man’ s Meat has four endings. The reader is asked to choose whichever ending s/he likes the best.

The book is a good time-pass but hardly memorable.


First Line: It’s hard to know exactly where to begin.

Title: Twelve Red Herrings

Author: Jeffrey Archer

Publication Details: NY: Harper Collins, 1995

First Published: 1994

Pages: 366

Other Books read of the same author: Kane and Abel; Shall We Tell the President?; A Matter of Honour; A Twist in the Tale; Sons of Fortune; Paths of Glory; False Impression


This book is easily available. I was gifted this book by my sister Nitu di, last year.


Submitted for the following challenges: A-Z (Titles), British Books, Color-Coded, Free Reads, Mount TBR, Mystery and Suspense, Smooth Criminals, Unread Book


Entry for Friday’s Forgotten Books. And a late entry for the letter T in the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme.

7 thoughts on “Forgotten Book: Twelve Red Herrings by Jeffrey Archer

  1. Neer, I read this book a few years ago and it's a fine collection of stories from a master storyteller who is probably more popular in India than anywhere else in the world. A red-herring in every story. There isn't a single Archer novel that isn't known or read in our part of the world.


  2. Been a long time since I read anything by Archer actually (probably the 1980s when the KANE & ABEL mini-series aired on TV). I must admit, because of his spectacular fall from grace in UK politics (and his fairly awful right-wing points of view) I must admit that I have rather let my personal feelings about the man get in the way of reading any more of his work – my prejudices raising their ugly head again, but I really enjoyed your review …


  3. Yes Prashant, he is immensely popular, isn't he? I find him to be an average writer. I read him if somebody passes on a book to me but don't buy, or borrow his books from the library.


  4. Thanks SergioTo tell you the truth, I've little idea about his views or even his fall from grace (I don't even know why he went to Jail). He is immensely popular in India and does come over here whenever a new book of his is going to be out in the stores.I avoid thinking too much about an author's political/cultural views because so many of them turn out to be bigots. At times though it is difficult to disassociate an author from his/ her text.


  5. Neer, I went through the \”popular fiction\” phase in the 1980s and early 1990s which, apart from Archer, included authors like Ludlum, Hailey, Forsyth, Cook, Deighton, Higgins, Wilbur Smith, Follett and, of course, Harold Robbins and Irving Wallace. I don't buy their books though I'm partial to Deighton and Higgins whose secondhand novels I still buy. Higgins is a personal favourite.


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