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Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less

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The conned: an Oxford don, a revered society physician, a chic French art dealer, and a charming English lord. They have one thing in common. Overnight, each novice investor lost his life's fortune to one man. The con: Harvey Metcalfe!! A brilliant, self-made guru of deceit. A very dangerous individual. And now, a hunted man. With nothing left to lose four strangers are abo The conned: an Oxford don, a revered society physician, a chic French art dealer, and a charming English lord. They have one thing in common. Overnight, each novice investor lost his life's fortune to one man. The con: Harvey Metcalfe!! A brilliant, self-made guru of deceit. A very dangerous individual. And now, a hunted man. With nothing left to lose four strangers are about to come together-each expert in their own field. Their plan: find Harvey, shadow him, trap him, and penny-for-penny, destroy him. From the luxurious casinos of Monte Carlo to the high-stakes windows at Ascot to the bustling streets of Wall Street to fashionable London galleries, their own ingenious game has begun. It's called revenge-and they were taught by a master


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The conned: an Oxford don, a revered society physician, a chic French art dealer, and a charming English lord. They have one thing in common. Overnight, each novice investor lost his life's fortune to one man. The con: Harvey Metcalfe!! A brilliant, self-made guru of deceit. A very dangerous individual. And now, a hunted man. With nothing left to lose four strangers are abo The conned: an Oxford don, a revered society physician, a chic French art dealer, and a charming English lord. They have one thing in common. Overnight, each novice investor lost his life's fortune to one man. The con: Harvey Metcalfe!! A brilliant, self-made guru of deceit. A very dangerous individual. And now, a hunted man. With nothing left to lose four strangers are about to come together-each expert in their own field. Their plan: find Harvey, shadow him, trap him, and penny-for-penny, destroy him. From the luxurious casinos of Monte Carlo to the high-stakes windows at Ascot to the bustling streets of Wall Street to fashionable London galleries, their own ingenious game has begun. It's called revenge-and they were taught by a master

30 review for Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mansuriah Hassan

    This is Jeffrey Archer’s first book. And what a great book it is! I have read it during my teenage years and decided to re-read again. The ultimate revenge novel! When four men lose their life savings to a wealthy Boston swindler in a stock market scam, how will they get their money back? That's the plot of this highly entertaining novel that can best be summed up as, don't get mad, get even! Their goal is to recoup exactly the $1 million they collectively lost, hence the title of the book. With This is Jeffrey Archer’s first book. And what a great book it is! I have read it during my teenage years and decided to re-read again. The ultimate revenge novel! When four men lose their life savings to a wealthy Boston swindler in a stock market scam, how will they get their money back? That's the plot of this highly entertaining novel that can best be summed up as, don't get mad, get even! Their goal is to recoup exactly the $1 million they collectively lost, hence the title of the book. With revenge that can be described as "playful" rather than mean-spirited, the book has a light-hearted tone that will leave readers upbeat. The story is so descriptive, informative, greatly entertaining and hilarious at times. It covers the whole spectrum of no integrity, but how strangers can become friend if fighting for the same cause. I particularly liked the scene during the wedding at the end of the book, it was highly intense and super hilarious. Have you ever wanted to get even? I mean really even. Then you should read this novel :)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    A stand alone thriller By Jeffery Archer first published 1976. I think this was Jeffery Archer’s first book and it reads like it should be. The word that comes to mind is ‘farcical’. Everybody is so stiff upper lip English even the American and French characters manage that peculiar English affectation. What you have is a bunch of highly successful characters, an Oxford Don, a Harley Street Physician, an international Art Dealer and a Peer of the Realm all, you would assume, having more than a modi A stand alone thriller By Jeffery Archer first published 1976. I think this was Jeffery Archer’s first book and it reads like it should be. The word that comes to mind is ‘farcical’. Everybody is so stiff upper lip English even the American and French characters manage that peculiar English affectation. What you have is a bunch of highly successful characters, an Oxford Don, a Harley Street Physician, an international Art Dealer and a Peer of the Realm all, you would assume, having more than a modicum of intelligence. All these characters have one thing in common, that being, that they have been reduced to near penury by Harvey Metcalfe an unscrupulous American stock market manipulator. After the local police tell the oxford Don that they know that Harvey Metcalfe was behind the scam but they just can’t prove it, yet. The Don decides to get in touch with the other three victims. The four cohorts are in full agreement; they want their money back and will do what ever is necessary to that end. Being fine upstanding, law abiding citizens all they want is exactly what was taken from then, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less. So each of the four desperados have to hatch a plan to extract the money back from Metcalfe but without Metcalfe knowing that he is being taken for a ride. What follows is pure farce and if you enjoy farce you’ll enjoy this but for me it was just too farcical for words. The whole thing reminded me of the 1980’s move ‘The Sting” but, alas, without the panache. Look, I read it to the end so it couldn’t have been too bad but I’m really glad that Jeffery Archer has, with the passage of time, improved greatly as an author. 3 stars because I got to the end without going on a caffeine bender.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    I found the narrative voice impossibly wooden, providing a long, dull recap of the villain's life before introducing the main characters with a lot of facts and very little personality. Other than cliche French from the Frenchman, they all talked alike. It was so dull I began to skim, hoping the story would pick up. It didn't. The revenge was a drop in the bucket--I doubt the villain even noticed--and furthermore, it only came off because of a deus ex machina delivered by the narrative voice withh I found the narrative voice impossibly wooden, providing a long, dull recap of the villain's life before introducing the main characters with a lot of facts and very little personality. Other than cliche French from the Frenchman, they all talked alike. It was so dull I began to skim, hoping the story would pick up. It didn't. The revenge was a drop in the bucket--I doubt the villain even noticed--and furthermore, it only came off because of a deus ex machina delivered by the narrative voice withholding certain facts. And yet it was a phenomenal best seller. Wow!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I come by my love of mysteries and thrillers naturally, as both my mother and grandmother are addicts of such books. This book was among their highly recommended reads. I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time around a few years ago, and it was just as much fun this time. The story features a Bernie Madoff-type villain named Harvey Metcalfe who, despite all his previously ill-gotten millions, takes the opportunity to con a few naive investors in a stock market scam. Among his latest victims is an A I come by my love of mysteries and thrillers naturally, as both my mother and grandmother are addicts of such books. This book was among their highly recommended reads. I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time around a few years ago, and it was just as much fun this time. The story features a Bernie Madoff-type villain named Harvey Metcalfe who, despite all his previously ill-gotten millions, takes the opportunity to con a few naive investors in a stock market scam. Among his latest victims is an American math genius teaching at Oxford. Realizing he's been had, he recruits three other victims (a handsome doctor, a French gallery owner, and a playboy lord of the realm) to steal back what Harvey took from them -- not a penny more, not a penny less. The cons of the con man are exciting, clever, and delightfully poetic. Since the book was originally published in 1976, there are no cell phones or computer hacking or electronic spying. Instead, expect walkie-talkies, disguises, and tailing. The action is exciting, while comic, along the lines of "Ocean's 11." There's no violence, but there is some romance (though it too is a product of its time). All in all, a good fun read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luffy

    Most popular books have durability but this one is not among them. Reason is that the last 3 chapters or so were stabs at comedy that went wide off the mark. Although my enjoyment and my remembrance of this book and my smile faltered near the end, for most of the story I pronounced it a perfect 5/5. I enjoyed it immensely. Nevertheless the plot in retrospective seems less clever in the cold light of the day. It was one of those books that don't have much staying power and cannot be enjoyed a se Most popular books have durability but this one is not among them. Reason is that the last 3 chapters or so were stabs at comedy that went wide off the mark. Although my enjoyment and my remembrance of this book and my smile faltered near the end, for most of the story I pronounced it a perfect 5/5. I enjoyed it immensely. Nevertheless the plot in retrospective seems less clever in the cold light of the day. It was one of those books that don't have much staying power and cannot be enjoyed a second time. I should mention though that as an author, Jeffrey Archer has grown on me and I'm curious about his books. Watch this space.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    Jeffrey Archer: The Truth? A brilliant, self-made guru of deceit. A very dangerous individual. And, now, a hunted man. Fiction or autobiography ("Jeffrey Archer: The Truth?"), you be the judge. And if the author doesn't like the answer, he can sue us for everything we've got, not a penny more, not a penny less.* * (view spoiler)[Australia introduced decimal currency on February 14, 1966. (hide spoiler)] Jeffrey Archer: The Truth? A brilliant, self-made guru of deceit. A very dangerous individual. And, now, a hunted man. Fiction or autobiography ("Jeffrey Archer: The Truth?"), you be the judge. And if the author doesn't like the answer, he can sue us for everything we've got, not a penny more, not a penny less.* * (view spoiler)[Australia introduced decimal currency on February 14, 1966. (hide spoiler)]

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    "The conned: an Oxford don, a revered society physician, a chic French art dealer, and a charming English lord. They have one thing in common. Overnight, each novice investor lost his life's fortune to one man. The con: Harvey Metcalfe!! A brilliant, self-made guru of deceit. A very dangerous individual. And now, a hunted man. With nothing left to lose four strangers are about to come together-each expert in their own field. Their plan: find Harvey, shadow him, trap him, and penny-for-penny, destr "The conned: an Oxford don, a revered society physician, a chic French art dealer, and a charming English lord. They have one thing in common. Overnight, each novice investor lost his life's fortune to one man. The con: Harvey Metcalfe!! A brilliant, self-made guru of deceit. A very dangerous individual. And now, a hunted man. With nothing left to lose four strangers are about to come together-each expert in their own field. Their plan: find Harvey, shadow him, trap him, and penny-for-penny, destroy him. From the luxurious casinos of Monte Carlo to the high-stakes windows at Ascot to the bustling streets of Wall Street to fashionable London galleries, their own ingenious game has begun. It's called revenge-and they were taught by a master."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shonali

    This was his first novel and a very critically acclaimed one, turned in to a TV series and a movie too. Though his list of bestsellers is long , this one according to me, holds the top spot [OK.. Kane And Abel ties with it for the first place :) ] Though his later day novels turned in to kind of similar concepts predictable twists and turns , his earlier works were really, really good. Archer knows how to hold the attention of the reader with right amount of surprises at the right time and its ve This was his first novel and a very critically acclaimed one, turned in to a TV series and a movie too. Though his list of bestsellers is long , this one according to me, holds the top spot [OK.. Kane And Abel ties with it for the first place :) ] Though his later day novels turned in to kind of similar concepts predictable twists and turns , his earlier works were really, really good. Archer knows how to hold the attention of the reader with right amount of surprises at the right time and its very clear in this one. Coming to this book My Views: If a plot can be so good as to hold your attention up to the last page then its definitely worth reading. This book falls in to that category.You must be feeling I am glorifying it a little too much :) When have finished reading it ,you will be saying the same. All the characters are well researched and there is hardly any opportunity to find flaws in the technicalities. Language is simple thus making it a easy read.Give it a try and tell me what you felt about this book

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ram

    Harvey Matcalfe , the king of successful financial con's , has conned a million dollar with empty promises of oil bonanza and instant wealth. Overnight, four men - the heir to an earldom, a Harley Street doctor, a Bond Street art dealer and an Oxford don find themselves penniless. But this time Harvey conned the wrong people. They unite and device a plan of revenge. Their plan is simple: sting the crook exactly for what they lost – not a penny more and not a penny less. A nice easy read with nice Harvey Matcalfe , the king of successful financial con's , has conned a million dollar with empty promises of oil bonanza and instant wealth. Overnight, four men - the heir to an earldom, a Harley Street doctor, a Bond Street art dealer and an Oxford don find themselves penniless. But this time Harvey conned the wrong people. They unite and device a plan of revenge. Their plan is simple: sting the crook exactly for what they lost – not a penny more and not a penny less. A nice easy read with nice realistic descriptions and stereotypical characters.

  10. 5 out of 5

    W

    This was Jeffrey Archer's first novel,men who are the victims of a swindle seek their revenge.Archer himself lost his money in real life and it forced him to turn to writing in a bid to improve his financial health. After having read it several years ago,I picked it up again but didn't find it particularly compelling.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ankit Agrawal

    Of all the Jeffrey Archer books I have read, I have liked this one the least. The reason is simply because this was not a typical Jeffrey Archer book. Jeffrey Archer in his own words loves to write simple novels, simple fiction for everybody to read and understand. It doesn't necessarily appeal to people of any particular age group, like or dislike. His books are there for everybody to read and enjoy. He has himself said that he doesn't like to write anything violent, sexual or even extravagant. Of all the Jeffrey Archer books I have read, I have liked this one the least. The reason is simply because this was not a typical Jeffrey Archer book. Jeffrey Archer in his own words loves to write simple novels, simple fiction for everybody to read and understand. It doesn't necessarily appeal to people of any particular age group, like or dislike. His books are there for everybody to read and enjoy. He has himself said that he doesn't like to write anything violent, sexual or even extravagant. Not meaning to say that this book was anything like that but it was simply uncharacteristic of Jeffrey Archer. What surprises me is that this was his first book so normally if you read this book first you would think that this is his base and he writes like this only. Thankfully I have read several of his books before this one and I've got to say that they were much much better than this. His works like Kane and Abel, The Prodigal Daughter and As the Crow Flies according to me are among the best literary fiction books of all time. Kane and Abel certainly will be for me one of the top 10 fiction books of all time. So judging by that standards I was rather disappointed with this book but still this book had its moments of excitement.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Henri Moreaux

    I very much enjoyed this little romp of revenge - a shadowy businessman runs a sharemarket pump and dump scam stealing a million dollars from four investors. Upon realising they've been scammed the four people join forces to recover the exact amount, not a penny more, not a penny less, back through various schemes. The various schemes and developments in the story line keep the pages turning as you keep wondering if they're really going to pull it off or if this is the time they'll get caught mak I very much enjoyed this little romp of revenge - a shadowy businessman runs a sharemarket pump and dump scam stealing a million dollars from four investors. Upon realising they've been scammed the four people join forces to recover the exact amount, not a penny more, not a penny less, back through various schemes. The various schemes and developments in the story line keep the pages turning as you keep wondering if they're really going to pull it off or if this is the time they'll get caught making for an entertaining and captivating read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jaime Uranovsky

    Male chauvinism at its most shameless. Never will I read Archer again💁 Edit: I get that this was published in 1976, and the kind of misogyny in here was tolerated way more back then, but I'm shocked that nobody's reviews reflect how not okay this book is. The sexism was *not* subtle...especially the part on page 231 which seems in favour of domestic violence if it is 'called for'??? 'But once they were in the Alfa Romeo he took Anne by the scruff of her neck, threw her across his legs, and spanke Male chauvinism at its most shameless. Never will I read Archer again💁 Edit: I get that this was published in 1976, and the kind of misogyny in here was tolerated way more back then, but I'm shocked that nobody's reviews reflect how not okay this book is. The sexism was *not* subtle...especially the part on page 231 which seems in favour of domestic violence if it is 'called for'??? 'But once they were in the Alfa Romeo he took Anne by the scruff of her neck, threw her across his legs, and spanked her so hard that she didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "What's that for?" "Just in case you ever forget after we're married who's the head of this household." THEN (SPOILER ALERT) THEY GET MARRIED. HIS BEHAVIOUR IS TAKEN AS A JOKE??? That's only one example of dozens throughout this book. I certainly hope that Archer's current novels are nothing like this one, but I won't be opening one to check. I need an Austen to soothe my nerves.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    I have come to admire Jeffrey Archer and his works. The attention to detail he gives to his characters is something I love. They seem real and NOT dipped in frivolity. Every detail seems to serve a purpose to propel the story. This was his very first novel and it was an enjoyable read at that. The story made me smile at the extremes some will go to in order to get what they want/need. However improbable this story may have been, I liked that it exacted revenge in a gentlemanly way. It was smart I have come to admire Jeffrey Archer and his works. The attention to detail he gives to his characters is something I love. They seem real and NOT dipped in frivolity. Every detail seems to serve a purpose to propel the story. This was his very first novel and it was an enjoyable read at that. The story made me smile at the extremes some will go to in order to get what they want/need. However improbable this story may have been, I liked that it exacted revenge in a gentlemanly way. It was smart and not 'guns and violence'. Don't get me wrong, I like guns and violence to some degree, but this was not the book for that.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sudeep Jain

    Hmmm, just finished reading! IT WILL SIMPLY BLOW YOUR MIND Each chapter will boost your pulse rate and make you feel uncomfortable on place, wherever you are resting. Even some time you will realize that mind is thinking faster than ever; what is next waiting for us? And more importantly, we most of the time hear “Whatever happens for a reason” right? so once again we you can corelate and affix confirmation seal 😊 Book Learning- We must learn how to initiate something new and must not be frightened Hmmm, just finished reading! IT WILL SIMPLY BLOW YOUR MIND Each chapter will boost your pulse rate and make you feel uncomfortable on place, wherever you are resting. Even some time you will realize that mind is thinking faster than ever; what is next waiting for us? And more importantly, we most of the time hear “Whatever happens for a reason” right? so once again we you can corelate and affix confirmation seal 😊 Book Learning- We must learn how to initiate something new and must not be frightened off as STEPHEN did and brought all strangers under one roof to battle for their rights. Outstanding book, all should read once for a change.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    I really enjoyed this one (on audio). It's an old book (1974) with some references to marrying the bonny Prince Charles - then a bachelor. Still, it stands the test of time with its crooks and deceit. Lots of fun on the road.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gowtham Narendira kumar

    Though we have seen different types of heist in movies, for the time this book was published, it was an excellent and engaging read. I loved the English parts (maybe my bias and attraction towards UK English) and the character definitions. No drag at any point of the story. Quick read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    jim

    This book (and its author) were wholly unknown to me until I was handed the book to read once a friend had finished it. I had very few expectations or pre-conceived notions of what I was about to read... First, I'd like to note that this was a very easy and enjoyable read. It rarely, if ever, felt as though I was slogging through something just to advance the story while it still held my attention and made me *want* to get to the next plot point. This definitely made for a pretty smooth read, how This book (and its author) were wholly unknown to me until I was handed the book to read once a friend had finished it. I had very few expectations or pre-conceived notions of what I was about to read... First, I'd like to note that this was a very easy and enjoyable read. It rarely, if ever, felt as though I was slogging through something just to advance the story while it still held my attention and made me *want* to get to the next plot point. This definitely made for a pretty smooth read, however, I felt it also caused the book to suffer from a lack of character building. There were, in fact, several strange dichotomies at play both in the style and substance of this book, which made it somewhat difficult to nail down how I actually felt. In some ways this read like an experiment by the author to test out this whole "being an author" thing, but overall, Archer was able to weave together an engaging story with a very unique style. For the majority of this book it was Archer's style that got my attention more than the narrative he was creating. Although published over a quarter-century later, my mind kept waiting for Patrick Bateman to show up describing Harvey's attire or lauding Phil Collins's move to lead vocalist that year. (Perhaps American Psycho had more of an effect on my than I realized) Quickly, however, it was obvious that Archer's knack for describing a setting's minutiae had nowhere near the depth or meaning imparted by Ellis's overbearing descriptions. As the novel progressed, this style of pointing out details became more cumbersome than intriguing. The missing details became nearly as important as those presented by the author. This really came to a head, for me, during the description of Billie Jean King's first round at Wimbledon. Each game was noted, each set was noted, and each detail was correct. I was wholly impressed with Archer's attention to detail here but then greatly confused when, much later in the book, Harvey describes his time at Wimbledon by saying he, "got to see an American win." (paraphrased from memory) For a man of Harvey's character and given Archer's previously detailed description, it was jolting for Harvey not to have noted Ashe becoming the first black man to take a Wimbledon title, Billie Jean retiring after winning her 6th, or that Americans won every title that year. (even if part of an international doubles pair...) While it's obvious that the events at Ascot needed to be fictionalized to serve the story, it was also jolting that the "Race of the Century" received none of the detail given to an inconsequential first-round women's match at Wimbledon. Harvey / Rosalie's race certainly benefitted from the play-by-play; perhaps Harvey's preoccupation with his own horse precluded him from noticing any other aspects of the race, but it still felt odd that the historical aspects of the 1975 race were ignored. (It is difficult to believe that the race had not taken place while Archer was writing this section given his correct game-by-game detail of the Kathy May (Fritz) / King match) This same attention / lack of attention to detail also showed up in the context of the larger story arcs. While the first 3 plans had significant time (and page counts) devoted to their descriptions, the final section of the book felt as though Archer had finished telling his story (or, perhaps, worked through his own financial demons) prior to finishing the book. It felt rushed and unimportant. The Deus Ex Machina of Anne's revelation also served to make the ending feel rushed and unimaginative. Was it James having difficulty with his plan, or was the author unable to keep his own imagination engaged? Which, I suppose, leads to the story aspect of the novel. The story itself... the narrative... was entertaining and easy to read. Much of the introductory section is devoted to describing Harvey: his background, his upbringing, his life, his cleverness, and his detachment from human relationship - apart from having others revere him. (and his money) The (now seemingly unimportant) details provided do help ground these descriptions, but the chronology was incredibly compact. Before I knew it, we were suddenly in the mid-1970's. This was somewhat jarring but easily forgiven as the central narrative kicked in relatively quickly as we get a pretty fantastic description of how Harvey manipulated the financial system for his own personal gain. While this does create a sense of awe for Harvey's economic acumen it also imparts to the reader almost no sense of comradery or empathy with Harvey. He is a robot without feelings. A construct whose only purpose is to move the story. The same thing can be said for the remaining four players once they are introduced... only to more of an extreme. I was never able to really care one way or the other what happened to any of the characters in the book. There was a severe lack of depth to each character and no real reason to feel personally involved in the events as they transpired - this was especially true of Robin and Jean-Pierre. You can almost feel the struggle within James to impress his family and find his own happiness... almost. And you can almost get a sense of Stephen's familial duties and reasons for his plotting... almost. The more I revisit my feelings and the more I write, the worse this review sounds. Not my intention as I did enjoy the story - overall I left the book not feeling as though I had wasted my time. While the initial style imparts a sense of gravitas and deeper meaning, by the time I was finished, it was clear that I was reading some sort of fantastical getaway. There were no lessons to be learned unless the last few pages bolstered the reader's sense of the futility of trying. Or perhaps we're supposed to envision the ancient Greeks in a, "God helps those who help themselves" kind of way. Although I had few expectations going in, the style of the prose created them for me... quickly. Those expectations simply turned out to be misplaced. This is not a morality play, a philosophical breakdown of the free market, or even a fable revealing a grim warning to the reader. This story serves itself, and is simply an entertaining piece of period fiction. (despite the lackluster ending) The ending didn't make me angry... likely due to my separation from the characters, but, at best, I think I left the book thinking, "Huh. Well there's that." Oh. And whatever happened to David?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deepu George

    And there my first Jeffrey Archer is finished. And a nice one to start with. Am I impressed? Ya to some extends. For a thriller it was an easy read and a page turner. Somethings u bound to guess... And loops holes... Yup a few here and there.... May be a 4star rating will suffice

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    (As ever, check me out on chatterverse.wordpress.com, where I have cross posted this review.) I had high hopes for this novel. Unfortunately (I bet you saw this coming from at least a mile away), those hopes were dashed. The premise and synopsis were promising, if somewhat familiar, suggesting at an intelligent, finely crafted narrative with lashings of witty humour and oodles of barbed dialogue. The usual fare, for this sort of novel, but familiarity does not always breed contempt, and, on this o (As ever, check me out on chatterverse.wordpress.com, where I have cross posted this review.) I had high hopes for this novel. Unfortunately (I bet you saw this coming from at least a mile away), those hopes were dashed. The premise and synopsis were promising, if somewhat familiar, suggesting at an intelligent, finely crafted narrative with lashings of witty humour and oodles of barbed dialogue. The usual fare, for this sort of novel, but familiarity does not always breed contempt, and, on this occasion, it didn’t seem to be a major, gut-churning problem. In Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, a group of men conned out of a great deal of money decide to band together, in the name of revenge and brotherhood, to win back A) their money, and B) their respect, and ultimately live happily ever after. Or something. Naturally, they decide that the best approach is to become pioneering, if not fearless, vigilantes, and so they turn their not inconsiderable combined brainpower onto the target in question, a ruthless businessman with a heck of a reputation, a huge fortune, and a daughter that is absolutely devoted to, while simultaneously dismissing any notion of turning to the trained authorities without even a token discussion. Their unity of purpose is breathtaking. The novel begins with the con that deprives our would-be heroes of their money, and it is immediately made clear that this is a fundamentally dire situation. Among other things, the group face serious financial difficulties, and problems that will only escalate further. But their solution is Harvey Metcalfe, while he’s talented, experienced, and utterly ruthless; they’re just a disparate bunch of men with little in common. They succeed, naturally. But there’s little satisfaction, if any, to be found in the result. They deprive their prey, the aforementioned Harvey Metcalfe, of exactly what he took from them – down to the exact penny – but there’s no indication that the man even notices. There’s no fatal blow, no crushing destruction that will end his fame and fortune forever, and no indication that while our heroes swagger off towards the sunset, the villain is left bankrupt, bereft, and miserably belligerent. Arguably, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less needed that climax. That fatal blow. Without it, coming to the end of the novel was about as enjoyable as reaching the end of the shampoo bottle halfway through soaping up, and it was neither what I expected nor what I could have any hope of enjoying. It might have bucked the trend, but it simply didn’t work. Rather than reaching a dramatic conclusion, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less fades to a finish, lacking conviction and decisiveness. Unfortunately, the characters were similarly halfhearted. The majority were stereotypes, and the rest just plain dull, with a frankly rather ridiculous amount of detail on what school they attended aged ten and a half, and not nearly enough on why abandoning their responsibilities at a moment’s notice isn’t even a small problem. They lack shape, depth, and personality, and any motivations they might have for their actions simply glossed over. Finally, the reason I have given this novel a rating of two stars rather than one is that although I was spectacularly unmoved by the writing, plot, and characters, there were, nonetheless, many clever aspects. Archer demonstrated a deep and consistent knowledge of his chosen focus, the various plans dreamed up by the aspiring heroes are, if not foolproof, at least entertaining, and the grand reveal of the identity of James’s newest girlfriend was arguably a much better story than the main plot. This wasn’t enough to redeem it, but it certainly bears mentioning.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nick M

    this was interesting to read as it is pure barnum-esque showbiz: an exercise in commercial intelligence completely devoid of soul, structural integrity or moral compassing. when i see bookstores which have half to three quarters airport fiction (which is, in fact, half to three quarters of bookstores) i am fascinated by what those kind of books contain. what does it mean to get your book published in a supermarket or a kmart? what kind of faustian pact do you have to sign to get there if you’re this was interesting to read as it is pure barnum-esque showbiz: an exercise in commercial intelligence completely devoid of soul, structural integrity or moral compassing. when i see bookstores which have half to three quarters airport fiction (which is, in fact, half to three quarters of bookstores) i am fascinated by what those kind of books contain. what does it mean to get your book published in a supermarket or a kmart? what kind of faustian pact do you have to sign to get there if you’re not ghostwriting a sportstar’s autobiography, detailing a dystopian love triangle, or churning out dusty vampire farmhand pap? now i am able to get some sense of what plot-based fiction feels like on the nerve endings, but most of these books in franchise stores i imagine have some shade of soul to them, in the same way that most of my teachers growing up were maybe a little dull but were still relatively human and kind-ish. most of these selfless beach reads probably have a little cornered out space for philosophy or a prose flourish or a character reversal. some sort of little freehand section on the human condition. THIS book on the other hand, is the equivalent of my eighth grade teacher who would end class early to beat the traffic, who put on “cradle 2 the grave” on dvd a few times, and who misspelt my name in three different ways on the same report while naming books i hadn’t read. this book really doesn’t give a fuck, mark manson style, and is clearly written by a sociopath who has learnt how to mimic genre tropes, without being able to ratchet up tension properly or avoid cheaply implausible deus ex twists. it’s like the structure and look of a normal human face that as you move closer reveals really strange muscle movements and a strange quality of skin. all of the heroes blend together and speak with the same voice and the villian is never really punished, instead kind of celebrated throughout the book, and the conning incidents fly by without interruptions from the reality they intrude upon. all that matters is money and social position and the occasional discreet lights-out fucking of an attractive, bond-breasted woman. this book is scary because it lays bare what people expect from pageturning entertainment and gives us excess of it - which turns out to be endless maneouvring of faceless businessmen and third-rate magic tricks, which is, i’m guessing, not that far from a season of SUITS. peer into this book long enough and you’ll see inside a hedge fund manager’s soul, and it is a dark and claustrophobic place. seeing as more and more people are becoming virtual hedge fund managers in all but name, this book is not just a con-job, it’s almost a rallying cry: corporate body snatchers of the world unite! grey little drones love sleight-of-hand, because it is inevitably how they make and tidy their millions. during the last (avoided) global recession they effectively said “these are not the droids you’re looking for” and were waved on. in the future a lot of literature and art will be like this book (we are partly there already), as everybody forgets that sociopathy is contagious in a society where nobody gives a f**k anymore. and the buck starts and stops and starts here. what complicates things is that this “book” was pretty readable and went down smoothly, which i can’t say as much for most literary vibey moodhouse fiction. i have to admit i almost enjoyed this mugging of my time and effort.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anoon Nishit Chinmayatri

    This enthralling novel is an out-and-out page turner, a tale of fraud, revenge and determination.The plot is pretty simple, to take back what’s lost- Not a Penny More and Not a Penny Less. It is greatly entertaining and humorous at times. The author knows how to hold the reader’s attention, pinning us to the book with surprises and twists at the right time. The book holds your attention until the last page. You Will Want to Turn the Page. You Will Want to Know What Happens Next!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeyaprakash

    I am an amateur reader starting with couple of ones from Lee Child, Fredrick Forsyth. I was given a collection of Jeffrey Archer's from one of my pal. It was his suggestion to start with "Not a penny more, not a penny less", after getting exhausted with Fredrick Forsyth "The Afghan", I got myself into a state of tireless after reading 'Not a penny more, not a penny less'. My three words to describe this novel would be awesome, splendid and fantabulous. Archer, in this work had concentrated only I am an amateur reader starting with couple of ones from Lee Child, Fredrick Forsyth. I was given a collection of Jeffrey Archer's from one of my pal. It was his suggestion to start with "Not a penny more, not a penny less", after getting exhausted with Fredrick Forsyth "The Afghan", I got myself into a state of tireless after reading 'Not a penny more, not a penny less'. My three words to describe this novel would be awesome, splendid and fantabulous. Archer, in this work had concentrated only on the part of storytelling and nothing other than that. Narration to the characters, circumstances and places were very minimal thus making the total number of pages of the novel under two hundred. I felt like reading an opinion column of a newspaper when reading this novel, it was very plain and simple. Novel starts with the hardships which Harvey Metcafe faced during his adolescent days in Newyork and his voyage towards a successful stock broking messenger and then going on to become an aggressive trader of NYSE. His ability to make money guilefully and rapidly, his successfulness in all his ventures and the way he managed to obtain them were all clearly narrated. David Kessler introduction and his acquaintance with the other characters and act of persuading them to buy the stocks of Discovery oil were delusive. The calmness, brilliancy, honesty in the character Stephen Bradley helped in making the story more interesting and outstanding. My words will not be enough to praise this novel or the author, but I wanted to keep the review simple and short, hope this review helps all the future readers of ‘Not a penny more, note a penny less’ and Jeffrey Archer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first piece of marvel from Jeffrey Archer.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gerrie

    I wanted to give this book 4 stars for the plot, which I think is really well done. However, the sexism here is so glaring, yet so casual, that I took off one star for that. While there are almost no female characters in the book, there is one, Anne, who is the love interest of James, one of the four main male characters. Although Anne's not at all developed as a character, she ends up playing an important role in the plot. She's a gorgeous model, and that's about it for character background or I wanted to give this book 4 stars for the plot, which I think is really well done. However, the sexism here is so glaring, yet so casual, that I took off one star for that. While there are almost no female characters in the book, there is one, Anne, who is the love interest of James, one of the four main male characters. Although Anne's not at all developed as a character, she ends up playing an important role in the plot. She's a gorgeous model, and that's about it for character background or development. At one point she says something to James about not gaining weight. He basically tells her she better stay thin. At another point he spanks her because he's upset by something she did, and she responds with a very weak protest. And, he basically says he'll do it again if she steps out of line. Ick! Another of the main male characters, who's married with two young children, indulges in casual adultery, and the other male characters act as though it's perfectly fine. And it appears as though he will continue to do so. It was written as if this were a norm. I read this book in the late 1970's when it first came out. All I remembered before re-reading this book was the engaging plot and good writing. I don't remember the blatant sexism, but maybe because in the 70's it was more the norm, and the women's rights movement was just beginning to raise people's consciousness. But, from the perspective of 2020, not only is the sexism in this book dated, but it's also offensive.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sadaf

    An elaborate plan to get money - in this case, to get money back, is the kind of stuff that Archer writes really well. I thoroughly enjoyed The Fourth Estate, and there was no doubt I was going to like this one. The book begins with a bit of background on Harvey Metclafe, and as soon as you start to feel proud of his enterprising efforts, you realize he is going to con a few innocent people of a million, and he immediately becomes the 'villain'. The four men who are duped of their money, are an An elaborate plan to get money - in this case, to get money back, is the kind of stuff that Archer writes really well. I thoroughly enjoyed The Fourth Estate, and there was no doubt I was going to like this one. The book begins with a bit of background on Harvey Metclafe, and as soon as you start to feel proud of his enterprising efforts, you realize he is going to con a few innocent people of a million, and he immediately becomes the 'villain'. The four men who are duped of their money, are an unlikely team, to say the least. The owner of an Art Gallery, an earl, a Harley Street doctor, and a mathematician at Oxford. But, once they decide to take their money back, 'not a penny more, not a penny less', but the million plus whatever expenses it takes to carry out their plans, there's no stopping them. As each partner's plan unfolds, you wait with abated breath, hoping that Harvey does not smell the stint. The climax of the book, and the ending are absolutely enjoyable. The plot, pace and writing is brilliant. A short book that gets over, albeit too soon. A must read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jack Heath

    3 Stars. Enjoyable, but with a relatively simple and uncomplicated plot. Archer's first book; short but a good way to start off with this author. A con man, with great finesse and believability, takes several people for money that turns out not to be disposable in different ways for each of them. They've been really hurt and slowly gravitate towards each other. A plot develops to get it all back but not a penny more and not a penny less. Can they do it, and how will they pull it off, are the int 3 Stars. Enjoyable, but with a relatively simple and uncomplicated plot. Archer's first book; short but a good way to start off with this author. A con man, with great finesse and believability, takes several people for money that turns out not to be disposable in different ways for each of them. They've been really hurt and slowly gravitate towards each other. A plot develops to get it all back but not a penny more and not a penny less. Can they do it, and how will they pull it off, are the intriguing questions. (winter 2017)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aparna

    Am a big fan of Jeffery Archer and this book was completely enjoyable to read.Brilliant plot, humorous and a terrific climax. Its about how a team of 4 people claim their money they had deposited as shares in a fraudulent Oil Company. Also this book happens to Archer's first novel published in 1976 and was inspired by his real life experience of near-bankruptcy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shabana Mukhtar

    I have read this plenty of times. I love all the four 'victim' characters. I like how they gradually start to like each other. I like how every step of the revenge is planned. A must read. I am a big fan of his work. I love courtroom drama and lawsuit thrillers. Nobody does it better than Archer. No offense to others who write under the same genre.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Themistocles

    While it's nice and will keep your interest throughout, it hasn't aged well at all. Twists? Really? Where? I mean, maybe it was a great book with convoluted plots and all that back 35 years ago, but now we've seen so many better examples of the genre that it just falls terribly short...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Abinav

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The title says the whole point of the book. A ponzie scheme that four people fall prey to and retrieval of their money from the antagonist. An exciting read just for the methods which the four protagonist adapt to retrieve the money

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