Review: Nothing Ventured By Jeffrey Archer
Years ago I enjoyed reading a few of Jeffrey Archer’s books, including Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less and Kane and Able. Archer is a prolific author, but I haven’t read any of his later books or his diaries about his time in prison. But I was interested when I saw that he had started a new series about William Warwick – Nothing Ventured. It is the first in the series of books following William’s progress from detective constable to the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
It is indeed, a story about a detective, rather than a detective story and as such it is rather episodic, following William Warwick’s career.
William joins the Metropolitan Police force, against his father’s wishes. Sir Julian Warwick QC, had hoped his son would join him in chambers and train to be a barrister, like his sister Grace. He works on the beat in Lambeth before transferring to the Art and Antiques Squad at Scotland Yard, where he becomes involved in a number of cases of fraud and theft, including tracing the whereabouts of a phial of the moon dust brought back from the Apollo 11 mission by Neil Armstrong, and arresting an old man who had forges the signatures of famous authors in first editions. Whilst investigating the theft of a Rembrandt painting, the Syndics of the Cloth Makers Guild, from the Fitzmolean Museum in Kensington, he meets Beth Rainsford, a research assistant at the gallery and they fall in love almost at first sight – but Beth has a secret that she keeps from him.
The premise is promising, but it’s written in a very straight-forward and factual style and my overall impression, despite the crime elements, is that this is a rather mundane and bland novel. William does this, does that, goes here, goes there, often at a break-neck pace that gives impetus. But the characters are drawn very sketchily with little depth – William is an intelligent young man, precocious and naive, eager to please and to learn, his father, Sir Julian, a suave, elegant and successful QC and Grace, his sister, an up and coming young barrister, and so on.
I suppose it is the base for the rest of the series but I found it too predictable. However, I thought the court scenes and the final little twist at the end enjoyable and I’m wondering if I want to go one to read the next book in the series which focuses on William’s time as a young detective sergeant in the elite drugs unit. I’m not sure that I do want to – there are so many more enticing books to read.
I'm a little nervous that Jeffrey Archer is starting a new series. I really enjoyed Nothing Ventured, but
Archer says in a note to the reader that he's working on the second, and the progress of the series will depend on his longevity. Archer is 79.
The new series is set in the 1980s. Archer says it's a story of a detective, not a detective story.
William Warwick's father, a criminal barrister, always hoped his son would join him in his practice. But, from the age of eight, William knew he wanted to be a police detective. Warwick's mother sided with him, and he went to university, studied art, and became a police officer.
Warwick could have been fast-tracked as a college graduate, but he chose to start at the bottom, walking a beat as a police constable. For the first year, his lessons are on the street, under the guidance of an experienced, street-wise constable, Fred Yates. But, when it was time to move on, and he passed his detective exam, he was assigned to the Metropolitan Police Force, attached to Art and Antiques.
While he works several cases, his major assignment involves the theft of invaluable paintings, forgeries, and a finder's fee when the paintings are "recovered" on behalf of the insurance companies. In the course of his investigation, William meets a beautiful gallery research assistant, Beth Rainsford, who has family secrets. Warwick's case, and Beth's secret, result in riveting simultaneous court trials, in a story that builds in intensity.
While the storyline and the investigations are straightforward, the resulting trials are fascinating. Archer ups the suspense by putting them opposite each other in the courthouse so the reader is eagerly waiting to see the judgments.
Jeffrey Archer's latest novel (and hopefully a series) features a likable police officer who works hard. The supporting cast, Warwick's family, other officers, Beth Rainsford, are interesting characters, as so many of Archer's have been over the years. Let's hope there's time for more books in the William Warwick series.
Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician.
He was a Member of Parliament and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and became a life peer in 1992. His political career, having suffered several controversies, ended after a conviction for perverting the course of justice and his subsequent imprisonment. He is married to Mary Archer, a scientist specialising in solar power. Outside politics, he is a novelist, playwright and short story writer.
#First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Jeffrey Archer, and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
Having loved Jeffrey Archer’s Clifton Chronicles, I was pleased to see this new series that will have my fellow fans just as excited. Those who remember Harry Clifton and his prodigious career as a writer will remember the William Warwick novels that were the author’s bread and butter. Archer has decided to shed some light on these, writing a series of novels about the man who climbed the ranks of the police service. In this series debut, William has decided not to follow in his father’s footsteps and refuses to read law. Instead, he chooses the path of art history before enrolling in the police academy. After passing his entrance exams, Warwick is sent to the beat, where he garners some much needed experience under the tutelage of a seasoned copper. When given the chance to write the detective’s exam, he soars through the experience and is soon assigned to Art and Antiquities, using his attention to detail and past academic experiences. Warwick has much to learn, but is also tossed out to juggle a number of cases, all of which take him in different directions and has him meeting book forgers, currency schemers, and even traffickers in stolen artwork. While not entirely won over by his son’s choices, Sir Julian Warwick QC can see the benefits to Warwick’s choices and works with him on a side project. It would seem the woman who has caught young DC William Warwick’s eye has a secret she has tried to keep her herself. However, as Warwick grows fonder of Beth Rainsford, he cannot fight the urge to unravel yet another mystery. A brilliant launching pad to what I hope will be a sensational series, Archer does not disappoint readers with this piece. Highly recommended to those who love Lord Archer’s writing style, as well as readers who like a light and fast-paced police procedural series with artistic flavourings.
In my long reading career, I can say that I have long loved every opportunity that I have had to curl up with a Jeffrey Archer novel. His ability to keep the story simple and yet enthralling is second to none, while also developing strong characters and a plot that keeps the reader wanting more. As I mentioned above, this is an interesting project, one in which Archer almost assumes the role of Harry Clifton in crafting these stories that appeared throughout the Clifton Chronicles. William Warwick serves as a wonderful protagonist whose early rise as an officer of the law is documented here. From his passion for police work on the beat through to his intuition and ability to find clues where others fail, Warwick is both in tune with his surroundings and a character worthy of the reader’s attention. The novel portrays both his personal and professional sides, injecting the needed passion in each to develop a well-rounded individual who enriches the larger story. There are many threads left dangling, which Archer will hopefully tie-off or add to in the subsequent novels of the series. Others enrich the story and the plot lines, complementing Warwick where possible, but also developing sub-plots that could emerge in future novels. The story was strong and introduced the reader to this most formidable character. While some may worry that there is a need to know the Clifton Chronicles to read this piece, the Warwick novels are independent of the previous series, though I am sure devout fans of Clifton will see tie-ins when Harry mentioned the novels throughout his time as a protagonist in Archer’s earlier work. A mix of short and longer chapters, as well as Archer’s use of themes from past novels—art, policing, court proceedings—allow this series debut to be one that is sure to garner much discussion and anticipation between novels. I, for one, cannot wait to see how William Warwick will rise through the ranks to the pinnacle of his career.
Kudos, Lord Archer, for this great start. As you mentioned in the author’s note, I can only hope you will survive the entire journey as you dazzle your countless fans.
#This is my first time reading anything written by Jeffrey Archer. I have no idea why I haven't picked up one of his books earlier - didn't know what I was missing! First of all I really, really enjoy British detective novels and this fits the bill to a tee.
This is the first in the William Warwick series. William has wanted to be a detective since the age of eight so he chooses to pursue that path - against his father's wishes (his father is an attorney and wants William to follow in his footsteps). William has good instincts and has put in his time learning the trade when he gets tapped for the Arts and Antiquities department in Scotland Yard. It was fun following William through his first cases and seeing both his successes and his failures. William gets wrapped up in a doozy of a case and I enjoyed following the leads with him. I look forward to reading the next book in this series when it becomes available!
Thanks to Jeffrey Archer and St. Martin's Press for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Nothing Ventured, Jeffrey Archer