Review by Adrina Palmer
Nothing Ventured heralds the start of a brand new series in the style of Jeffrey Archer’s #1 New York Times bestselling Clifton Chronicles: introducing Detective William Warwick. But this is not a detective story, this is a story about the making of a detective…
Jeffrey Archer’s bestselling Clifton Chronicles brought Detective William Warwick to life but now with ‘Nothing Ventured,’ we get a backstory for the beloved detective. Mind you, I haven’t read any of the other books but I did thoroughly enjoy this book and found only minor issues with the plot. I almost lost interest halfway through until Archer tossed in a few unexpected twists that blew holes in what I had surmised would happen in the book. Good on him for not creating a predictable plot!
The story starts back in Britain in the ’70s with William talking to his father about his goal to become a detective and not follow in his father’s footsteps as a lawyer. I’m not sure why the author had to go to great detail – several pages – I assume this references fatherly disappointment in future novels, although the two have a strong bond and work well together. Also referenced with no outcome in this book was the then very taboo sexual orientation of William’s sister Grace, which only makes a tasteful yet unnecessary introduction.
Somehow, Mr. Archer writes the book with a ’70s flair, maybe I imposed this perception based on knowledge and the lack of electronics, but rarely did the story take the reader out of the past and into the future. That being said, the only real issue I had with the novel was a sense that the author knew more than I did which goes without saying but came across as a slightly pompous manner I found grating and yet can’t place my finger on how Mr. Archer managed this effect!
Onto the plot, after finishing college, William moves straight into life as a beat cop much to his father’s dismay as he spent his whole life dreaming of locking criminals away instead of defending them like his father. His smart mouth lands him in the art department investigating the theft of a priceless Rembrandt painting from a local art museum, the Fitzmolean. As expected, William meets a girl equally in love with art which fast-tracks into a serious relationship despite the looming possibility she might have something to do with the theft.
Beyond his budding relationship and long hours, William finds himself up against refined art collectors and his conniving wife trying to pry the painting out of the wrong hands and back into his girlfriend’s care. The battle ensues in Britain before moving to Italy and then to the docks as William juggles all the elements in his life and finds himself in the courtroom for two separate cases along with his father and a tough-cookie lawyer, Booth Watson QC. If all of Jeffery Archer’s book go to court and he writes them as compelling as the two court cases in this novel, then I want – no I need – to read every book on his shelf. He definitely found his strong suit presenting dialogue and arguing statements.
A few areas fell flat, Mrs. Faulkner read somewhere between flat and Jessica Rabbit. Also, one of the side plots fell off which was sad as I enjoyed the twist! Otherwise, I have no complaints and the book was a fun ride, especially if you enjoy reading books with a fake British accent in your head. Those who love well-developed detectives with lots of twists up their sleeve will enjoy trailing William Warwick around as he is real, personable on his hunt to take down criminals.