Jeffrey Archer’s "Not a penny more, not a penny less" is drafted on a great concept and story line is short, simple and keeps the reader interested through out.
One clever mastermind and self made millionaire, Harvey Metcalf turns from jobless young boy to multi millionaire in a very short span all with his own clever tactics, both legal and illegal. In the process he cheats several people in several ways. Four of his victims, who lost their lifetime money in a stock market scam masterminded by Harvey Metcalf team up and decide to beat Harvey in his own game. They draft ideas, finalize plans and work as a team to recover every penny they lost to Harvey including the expenses incurred while recovering the same. First hal of the novel is about Harvey’s legal and illegal activities (which made him millionaire) and the rest is all about how those four men recovered their money
I did like reading the novel and finished it in 2 nights, some 4 hours each.
However I have spotted following weak points in the story line:
1. Stephen Bradley and team (victims of Harvey’s Prospecta Oil scam ) were to recover every penny they lost; not a penny more, not a penny less. But while they return from James wedding they were still around 1.24 $ short. Is that not a deviation from their principle?
2. They successfully duped a Nobel laureate, a world famous Doctor, university Vice chancellor and a world famous painting. In real life it is very much unlikely that this amount of impersonation will go undetected
3. There was no counter plan by Harvey or anyone else while these men were cheating him. Had Harvey detected that he is being cheated and had there been some counter strategies the novel would have been more interesting to read. The story goes almost one sided.
4. The first Para of the novel says Harvey managed to earn a million illegally, legally and even managed to retain it. But since he lost his money to four of his victims, I’m wondering how is this sentence is justified
5. End of the novel: Prospecta prices soar again and those who bought Prospecta shares are now rich people. Stephen and team got more money than they had lost...Again a deviation from title...
6. When James tells the secret to Anne or when he finds that Anne and Rosaline are same I was expecting this will backfire to their plan at some point (as it happens in Bollywood movies) but nothing happened as such. Rosa ended up being a silent witness to these four men robbing her dad (She even arranged $250000, may be all out of her love for James and in appreciation of these four men’s efforts)
7. In Monte Carlo, when Harvey becomes ill (due to powder mixed in his coffee) and Harvey’s driver demands "Where are you taking my boss?" Stephen tells "We’re taking him to hospital; you go back to Yatch..." Why no one suspected "How did Stephen know about Yatch"?
What did I like?
Still I like the novel for following reasons:
1. Tells you about stock market scams: How some people mastermind scams, manipulate share prices, make money and render several small scale investors penniless in the process
2. Never give up. If you loose something there ought to be a way to get it back. The spirit of Stephen Bradley and his team is highly motivating experience
3. Simple, straight forward narration and not a lengthy novel. Makes interesting reading through out.
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