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The third novel in Jeffrey Archer’s compelling saga, the Clifton Chronicles 

1945. The vote in the House of Lords as to who should inherit the Barrington family fortune has ended in a tie. The Lord Chancellors deciding vote will cast a long shadow on the lives of Harry Clifton and Giles Barrington.

Harry returns to America to promote his latest novel, while his beloved Emma goes in search of the little girl who was found abandoned in her fathers office on the night he was killed.

When the General Election is called, Giles Barrington has to defend his seat in the House of Commons and is horrified to discover who the Conservatives select to stand against him. But it is Sebastian Clifton, Harry and Emmas son, who ultimately influences his uncles fate.

In 1957, Sebastian wins a scholarship to Cambridge, and a new generation of the Clifton family march onto the page. After Sebastian is expelled from school, he unwittingly becomes caught up in an international art fraud involving a Rodin statue that is worth far more than the sum it raises at auction. Does he become a millionaire? Does he go to Cambridge? Is his life in danger?

Best Kept Secret will answer all these questions, but once again, pose so many more.

– Flipkart

(Spoilers ahead)

The third book in The Clifton Chronicles series by Jeffrey Archer starts with the result of the court case between Harry Clifton & Sir Giles Barrington. Instead of some path breaking judgement, the Lord Chancellor rules in favour of Giles Barrington. While Harry rejoices in his loss, as he is now free to marry Emma, Giles continues to be indifferent in his victory.

Emma & Harry marry & for reasons best known to them decide that they will not have any more kids (the natural way that is). Eventually Emma decides that her son Sebastian who has been lonely long enough needs a companion. That is when they decide to adopt Jessica, the girl who is in fact Emma’s step sister. Among three candidates in the adoption center Seb chooses Jess because he finds her quite similar to his mother when she was her age. Displaying a sharp brain, as he grows up, he guesses that Jess is more his aunt than his sister. But for the time being the family decides to not disclose this fact to Jess.

Seb is exceptionally brilliant when he spots Alex Fisher cheating during the counting of votes. It is because of his great observational powers, Giles wins the election.

Hence it comes as a surprise when a person as intelligent & sharp as Sebastian Clifton naively agrees to carry his friends father’s parcel across the Atlantic for him. Its clear from the start that Seb is being used. Even his friend, who has been shown as an average guy guesses that his father & brothers are involved in some shady stuff. But not Seb!

When Seb is back from Buenos Aires it is surprising again when his parents decide to hide  Mr. Martinez’s true colours from their son. When the novel ends, it leaves you wishing that they had had this very important talk with their son, for then he might not have gotten in that car the next day with Bruno, Mr. Martinez’s son & his best friend.

While the previous 2 novels concentrated on Harry Clifton & his life, this 3rd novel in the series is more about Sebastian & Giles. I thoroughly missed the previous generation which is no more now, Old Jack, Sir Walter Barrington, Aunt Phyllis, Mary Barrington, Lord Harvey & even the vile Hugo Barrington. Emma who was smarter, Harry who was a doer are mere fillers in this novel. Giles as a politician is very well developed. But Sebastian is seen doing the same old things which is father & uncle did. Nothing new there….same school, same university, same “best friends” story! Grace is completely sidelined except for a page or two.

It ends with Bruno & Seb being involved in an accident & the tutor of admissions letting the boy’s father know about the death of his son. I guess here the son will be Bruno & not Seb which will increase the enmity between the Clifton/ Barringtons & the Martinezes.

The thing which I disliked the most is its similarity to another Jeffrey Archer novel which I have read previously. The share trading which Alex Fisher does on behalf of  Virgina reminds me strongly of the underhanded things Abel did in “Kane & Abel”. Also, when the book ended it left me thinking about which “secret” is the author talking about that is best off as secret? Misleading title this one!

The whole novel is more like a filler in which the years have passed but nothing much has taken place. Hope the next two novels are something better than this one.

 

About Flipkart: I had pre – ordered this book. However for the first time it wasn’t delivered to me. As my previous experience with Flipkart has been very good I placed an order, a second time. The book was promptly delivered this time. However a few pages had come out of the binding & some pages towards the end were left blank. 😦

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