Some years ago I expressed my dislike of books that were published as serials, ending with a cliff-hanger and inviting the reader to wait twelve months before being able to find out what happens next. Over the past few years it has been an irritating technique practised by Jeffrey Archer and his publisher, relating the story of the Clifton family relentlessly from the late 19th century onwards for those with the patience to follow the hundred year saga. Each time there was a teasing last page. In one, a possibly fatal car crash and the uncertainty if a main character survived it. In another, a bomb placed in an ocean liner under a cabin occupied by the Cliftons. It explodes, but that is the last sentence in this book and we’re told nothing more. Each time there was a twelve month wait for an answer.
Now Archer is at it again. The title of this one is Cometh The Hour, subtitled The Clifton Chronicles, described as a novel. On the next page it is defined as BOOK SIX of The Clifton Chronicles.
I believe a novel is a book with a completed story. This latest Archer offering should be called A new chapter in the Clifton series, so buyers would at least know what they are purchasing . Having been tricked by the first serial books I abandoned them as a waste of time and money, and seeing this one in a local library I turned to the last page to find out if it was at last an end to the Clifton saga.
The final lines describe a man raising his gun, and a woman being shot as her body slumps to the ground. Those are the abrupt final words, suggesting all readers will have to wait another year to discover what happens next. Does she die? Does the shooter escape? Did I want to read about 500 pages, then wait a year to find out? No thanks. I put it back on the library shelf and went looking for a proper novel.