A Matter of Honour (1986) * Jeffrey Archer

The story starts off well with a mysterious letter that was left from father to son during the reading of the last will and testament. The disgraced officer’s letter contains an original German letter informing the former prison guard that he was the proud owner of the contents of a safety deposit box found in Geneva.

The son, Captain Adam Scott, embarks on a journey to translate the letter and find the item – which takes him right in the jaws of a powerful enemy who was also after the same item – an icon of St. George and the Dragon taken from St. Petersburg during the first World War and then again by the Nazis during the Second one.

What makes things interesting is the pursuer  – a Russian KGB agent who is in fact the rightful heir to the treasure because of his paternal bloodline.

Plot gets thick when Adam’s girlfriend is killed after being kidnapped from the Geneva airport.

Adam is soon on the run when the newspaper headlines read: Englishman sought after German girl and Swiss taxi driver murdered.” The Swiss police as well as English, Russian and American agents are on his tail, after his blood.

This book was written decades ago. I was laughing to myself when reading it thinking: “This could have been solved with a phone call or an email” or “They wouldn’t allow anyone out of the airport after going through the passport control area and just before boarding without a proper excuse” or “If he had a mobile, he could have called the bank back to confirm the emergency rather than going at the check-in desk and then at a pay-phone near the exit of the airport.” But hey, then the plot would not have unfolded.

Things I’ve learned: The tsar’s paintings from St. Petersburg were identified by a silver crown wedged in the back of the frame.

“The experts tell me it was probably a court painter,” replied the Russian leader, … that the Tsar’s traditional silver crown was not attached to the back of the frame, … “It wasn’t the Tsar’s silver crown that had been removed, but the painting itself.”

It costs 20 Swiss Francs Cents to make a call and people were still paid in pounds and shillings..

Things I’ve found boring: It’s tedious to read a paragraph where the word “comrade” is repeated ad nauseam 10 times. Imagine 100 paragraphs…

Also Adam develops from your average ex-military storybook guy into a torture-proof, super IQ, fully espionage trained character in the pass of a few weeks, meaning that all relation to the character is removed by around three quarters of the way through the book. Predictable outcomes, silly plot line involving the deeds to Alaska wanted by Russians and Americans alike and a chase through Europe.

Totally forgettable.

Unless you’re a Cannes Film Buff – in which case you’ll definitely wait for the movie:

London-based Carnaby International has snapped up international sales rights to A Matter of Honor, an action-packed feature film based on Jeffrey Archer’s best-selling novel of the same title.

The film will be adapted into a spy thriller and is headed to Cannes this week as part of Carnaby International’s slate for its official sales launch. An all-star cast will soon be announced.

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/cannes-jeffrey-archers-a-matter-honor-getting-film-treatment-1005898

 

Final Rating: 2/5, burn pile.

 

 

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