(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky MAR 22, 2006)
“Even before he took his seat, Fenston began speaking. ‘Now we are in possession of the Van Gogh,’ he said, ‘we have only one matter to discuss this morning. How do we rid ourselves of Anna Petrescu?”
Romanian-born Anna Petrescu is the spunky, brainy, and beautiful heroine of False Impression, the new thriller by Jeffrey Archer. Anna is not only a former track star, but she also has a Ph. D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania. She started her career at Sotheby’s and later took a job working for a banking concern, Fenston Finance, whose chairman, Bryce Fenston is a major art collector. Bryce, on more than one occasion, has confiscated the paintings of clients who could not pay their outstanding loans to his bank. When an unknown assailant murders three of Bryce’s clients, FBI agent Jack Delaney starts investigating the wealthy Fenston and his assistant, ex-con Karl Leapman. Meanwhile, Anna, who narrowly escapes from the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11, soon realizes that her own life is in danger. Fenston, she now knows, is an unscrupulous and dangerous monster who would kill anyone in order to get his hands on the valuable painting, “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear,” by Vincent Van Gogh.
Although she is book-smart, Anna must quickly hone her survival skills in order to elude the brutal Fenston and his hired assassin, Olga Krantz. Anna travels around the world, touching base in London, Bucharest, and Tokyo, and always managing to stay one step ahead of her pursuers. Can Anna outsmart Fenston and keep the Van Gogh safe for her client, Arabella Wentworth?
As the story wears on, the dialogue becomes increasingly stilted and the plot ever more implausible. Anna is incredibly clever and cool under pressure, but she is no superwoman. Therefore, her ability to stay alive when Fenston wants her dead is nothing short of amazing. Nevertheless, Archer’s reputation guarantees that False Impression will become a best seller--especially since it has all of the elements that readers crave: good vs. evil, the uncertain fate of a priceless work of art, several vicious murders, a dollop of romance, crosses and double crosses, and the obligatory surprise ending. False Impression breaks no new ground, breaks no new ground, but there is definitely an audience for this brand of escapist and formulaic fiction.
- Amazon readers rating: from 96 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from False Impression at author's website
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less (1976)
- Shall We Tell the President (1978)*
- A Quiver Full of Arrows: Stories (1980)
- Kane and Abel (1980) *
- The Prodigal Daughter (1982) *
- First Among Equals (1984)
- A Matter of Honor (1986)
- A Twist in the Tale: Stories (1988)
- As the Crow Flies (1991)
- Honor Among Thieves (1993)
- Twelve Red Herrings: Stories (1994)
- The Collected Short Stories (1998)
- The Eleventh Commandment (1998)
- To Cut a Long Story Short: Stories (2000)
- Sons of Fortune (2003)
- False Impression (March 2006)
- A Prisoner of Birth (March 2008)
- Paths to Glory (March 2009)
- And Thereby Hangs a Tale (September 2010)
Prison Diary Series:
- A Prison Diary (August 2003)
- Prison Diary 2: Wayland - Purgatory (July 2005)
- Prison Diary Heaven (July 2006)
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- Wikipedia on Jeffrey Archer
- Guardian Unlimited index of stories on Jeffrey Archer
- Curled Up review of A Prison Diary
- Guardian Unlimited review of False Impression
- Who-dunnit review of False Impression
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About the Author:
Jeffrey Archer was born in 1940 in Western-super-Mare, England, Somerset, where he was raised. He attended the Oxford Department of Education, where he studied physical education and represented Great Britain in international competition as a world-class sprinter.
Archer entered politics in April 1967, gaining a seat on the Greater London Council. Two years later, at the age of 29, he became Britain's fourth youngest member of the House of Commons. However, Archer invested his life savings in a Canadian cleaning firm that collapsed due to management fraud and embezzlement. After losing all of his money, he resigned from Parliament. Rather than go bankrupt and stiff his creditors, Archer decided to write a novel based on his unfortunate experiences. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less became an instant bestseller in the U.S. and helped him get out of debt. This early achievement marked the beginning of his highly successful writing career.
Despite his flourishing writing career, Archer never gave up on his political ambitions. He continued working for the Conservative Party and, in 1985, Margaret Thatcher appointed him deputy chairman of the party. However, he had to resign just one year later due to allegations that he offered money to a prostitute.
This unfortunate incident, though, did not keep Archer away from the public eye. He served as coordinator for the Campaign for Kurdish Relief in 1991, which raised over fifty-seven million pounds for the Kurdish people. In addition, he was elevated to the House of Lords in 1992.
Unfortunately, Archer's literary career and political aspirations had to be put on hold again. In July 2001, he was convicted of "perjury and perverting the course of justice." It was alleged that he asked two friends to provide a false alibi and then compensated them for it during a libel case that involved a British tabloid. He was given a 4-year sentence as prisoner FF8282 and is nicknamed "Lord Liar."