I was excited to pick up two old favorites from our local public library yesterday. Both books are fairly new, but while I had reserved John Grisham’s ‘The Appeal‘ a month in advance, I was pleasantly surprised to find Jeffrey Archer’s ‘A Prisoner of Birth‘ available on the New Releases bookshelf.
Why so, I wonder? Do other folks share my waning enthusiasm for Archer’s recent narrow choice of themes and slow and (dare I say?) pompous style of writing? Or is the American public simply not as crazy about British authors as most of us in India are? Back home, I read a few random pages from both books to decide which one I’d read first. Surprisingly, ‘The Appeal’ won hands-down. Is Archer losing his magic touch then? I would say yes, particularly since the disappointment of the monotonous ‘False Impression’ is still fresh in my mind. As you can imagine though, for someone who so enjoyed ‘As the Crow Flies’, ‘Kane and Abel’, ‘Honor among Thieves’ and other Archer classics, this is a pretty tough admission to make.
To be sure, the same accusation could be directed against John Grisham too, but I like the fact that Grisham has experimented with different styles over the past few years. I especially loved the warm and funny ‘Skipping Christmas’ from amongst these experiments and ‘The Painted House’ was quite interesting too. And the legal thrillers, though repetitive in terms of theme and treatment, manage to hold my interest for the most part. The lure of Grisham’s unique writing style has not yet worn thin for me. I love the short snappy sentences, colorful character descriptions and caustic interplay of dialogues, especially during his famous courtroom brawls.
So ‘The Appeal’ is what I am going to be reading for the next few days and ‘A Prisoner of Birth’ will follow. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Archer will surprise me with one of his famous red herrings this time around though! Will let you know if that happens.
Disclaimer: I agree that there is no basis to compare the two authors, their genre and styles are completely different. I am not attempting a comparison here. It’s just that the two have been my long-time favorites in the thriller category and a few years back, making a choice would not have been easy for me at all. I was simply intrigued by my shifting preferences and hence this post. Now any Archer fans out there who would care to disagree?