Hello my dear book dragons!
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Today, I have a book by a certain someone with whom you guys are very familiar with even if you haven’t read his books (because I was one of them until now). Nothing Ventured is Jeffrey Archer’s latest book and I had the opportunity to receive a copy in exchange for an honest review. Before I even begin let me just tell you that this book is not a full on detective novel, Archer has clarified in the subtitle that “this is not a detective story, this is a story about a detective…”
Nothing Ventured is my first ever Jeffrey Archer novel that I read after 15 years. I have read a few of his books here and there but mostly his collection of short stories but never a detective novel (yeah, go ahead and judge me 🙊).
Book Title: Nothing Ventured
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Total Number of Pages: 320
Publication Date: 5th September 2019
Series: William Warwick
Nothing Ventured heralds the start of a brand new series in the style of Jeffrey Archer’s #1 New York Times bestselling Clifton Chronicles: introducing Detective William Warwick. But this is not a detective story, this is a story about the making of a detective . . .
William Warwick has always wanted to be a detective, and decides, much to his father’s dismay, that rather than become a lawyer like his father, Sir Julian Warwick QC, and his sister Grace, he will join London’s Metropolitan Police Force.
After graduating from university, William begins a career that will define his life: from his early months on the beat under the watchful eye of his first mentor, Constable Fred Yates, to his first high-stakes case as a fledgling detective in Scotland Yard’s arts and antiquities squad. Investigating the theft of a priceless Rembrandt painting from the Fitzmolean Museum, he meets Beth Rainsford, a research assistant at the gallery who he falls hopelessly in love with, even as Beth guards a secret of her own that she’s terrified will come to light.
While William follows the trail of the missing masterpiece, he comes up against suave art collector Miles Faulkner and his brilliant lawyer, Booth Watson QC, who are willing to bend the law to breaking point to stay one step ahead of William. Meanwhile, Miles Faulkner’s wife, Christina, befriends William, but whose side is she really on?
This new series introduces William Warwick, a family man and a detective who will battle throughout his career against a powerful criminal nemesis. Through twists, triumph and tragedy, this series will show that William Warwick is destined to become one of Jeffrey Archer’s most enduring legacies.
I don’t necessarily like introductory novels where the whole point of writing a book is just to introduce the protagonist. Nothing Ventured is the story of William Warwick and his journey of how he becomes a detective. He is supposed to be featured in a completely new series.
We follow William Warwick from a baby growing up into an intelligent kid all the while holding onto his ambitions of becoming a detective and finally into a young man who joins the police. In the end he is selected after being scrutinized and assessed multiple times. Before I forget to make this point, let me tell you that I loved the family dynamics of the Warwicks. They all have such contrasting personalities, jobs and argues most of the time (the father-son duo mostly) but there is also an understanding that brings the family together.
After joining Scotland Yard and solving a few quick and easy cases, William finally teams up on the important and baffling case of Miles Faulkner (no, not William Faulkner). Faulkner is a known name amongst the Art and Antiquities squad of Scotland Yard and he is believed to be in possession of the priceless Rembrandt painting which is stolen from Fitzmolean Museum. You know how the rest of the story follows, so I’ll just leave it at this.
So here’s the thing. Even though Archer had warned the readers that this is the story of a detective and not a detective story, I guess I just kept expecting this to me a detective story because that is Jeffrey Archer’s usual style? But then I wrapped my head around the fact that this book is just William’s story and how he becomes a detective, more like a prequel to the series. My biggest issue with this book is that I was kept telling that William Warwick is a detective and he wanted to me a detective ever since he was a kid (telling but not enough showing). All that is fine but maybe Archer could have shown that Warwick possesses the qualities of a detective through his actions which would make me believe that he is a detective. For me, Warwick’s progress; joining the Scotland Yard and working on this big case felt too easy and rushed to me. There was absolutely no struggle on his part, no second thoughts, nothing.
I am not saying that the book is bad or the writing is poor, it’s just that this book didn’t feel like the story of a detective rather it felt as if Warwick was just pretending to be a detective and having this strong belief that he is one. I missed out heavily on the showing part. Even the cases that he solves are not something that shows his intelligence or accentuates his skill-set. I have to say that I loved the supporting characters better than the protagonist. For instance, William’s sister is fleshed out so well, then there’s Beth, William’s love interest. These were the characters I was rooting for and if Archer doesn’t include them in the series, I would be seriously disappointed. And, the whole thief catching thing was over too soon with an ending that does set off the series but doesn’t do justice to the actual crime of this book. Also, it just made Warwick seem like a naive person rather than an intelligent detective.
I think I am being extra critical about this book because it’s my first Jeffrey Archer novel is such a long time and I have already set this standard for the kind of books he writes. For me, Nothing Ventured does not reach up to that level (sorry, Jeffrey). But it’s not a poorly written book as I have mentioned earlier. I loved the dry, witty humour that Archer incorporates in this novel. I am pretty sure that William Warwick will be a much more developed character in the upcoming books even though he was not a developed character in this one.
I don’t mean to be harsh or anything but this book just felt unnecessary and forced to me. I don’t think William Warwick needed his separate book. Moreover, the case of Faulkner and the missing painting was not that thrilling for me. The dialogues felt stiff, William was rigid throughout the book (except for laughing numerous times, I didn’t see any other expressions). I really wanted to like this book and I was so excited to read it and I think I had already decided for myself that I would love this book since it’s by Jeffrey Archer but sadly, I didn’t.
I did like the narrative technique, I loved that there are more dialogues (even though rarely do the characters show any expressions or movements other than running) and less chunks of paragraphs.
Listen up guys, this was just my take on the book. I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would but this review is based on my viewpoint, my perspective, which doesn’t mean that you won’t like it. I think I always stress this point in my reviews that whatever I write is according to my POV. So, I wouldn’t discourage you from reading this book. Nothing Ventured already has a rating of over 4 stars which shows that most people have enjoyed the book. Read it for yourself and then decide whether you like it or not. You may as well read one more book rather than skipping on it.
LET US CHAT!
Assuming that most of you have read Archer’s works, what is your favourite book by Jeffrey Archer?
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