I stumbled on this book by accident. I was somewhere I would have preferred not to be and I was looking for a way to escape. It was a small book; light, not up to 300 pages. “Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffery Archer”, the cover said. The back described the book as being about “a group of men duped by a callous businessman, who decided to get back the exact sum they lost to said man, not a penny more, not a penny less”. The premise sounded interesting. Moreover, as I had said, I needed an escape. I dove in.
From the first page, I was transported into their world. They had had their life savings taken away from them by an unscrupulous businessman, and the law said there was nothing that could be done. I was taken into the mind of each man as he dreamed of the riches he had been promised. I ached with them as they dealt with the shock of their massive loss. There was this one character, a minor nobleman, who had used his inheritance in a bid to prove to his family that he was not a complete failure. I clutched the book to my chest in an effort to hug him as he wondered how he would ever face his family again. Then one of them got angry and began to plan. Then all the fun began.
The book was primarily in England of the 1960’s with a few jaunts to other locations in Europe. The story was well paced, and laugh-out-loud funny. It was Jeffery Archer’s first book but thank heavens not his last. I (of course!) have read all the others and his writing style has been consistent throughout. He slowly draws you in until you are dead centre in the story living every moment with his characters. “Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less” still remains my favourite.