Cometh The Hour | Jeffrey Archer | Book Review

COMETH THE HOUR, if my count is correct, is prolific author Jeffrey Archer’s aka Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare’s forty-third book, the 6th and second to last book in the CLIFTON CHRONICLES, a series that truly embraces what Archer is about, fast turning espionage, corporate thrillers, books made for the quick reader that embrace the plot and keep the readers page turning quickly. It can be read quite easily as a stand alone novel but fits better in the series, and get turning sooner rather than later, the final in the series, THIS WAS A MAN, is out later in the year. COMETH THE HOUR is out now from the fab folks at Pan MacMillan Australia, you will find this in all bookstores or you can obtain it HERE in hardcover and e-book. Enjoy Kernel Deb’s review and have a great day……JK.


Cometh The Hour Book Cover image



COMETH THE HOUR is the penultimate book in the seven volume multi-generational saga of the Clifton and Barrington families as their fortunes rise and fall – the CLIFTON CHRONICLES. Whilst it can be read as a stand-alone book, it is far more enjoyable as part of the wider series. Archer is a talented storyteller with a gift for interweaving historical events and people with his characters. The narrative is strong and despite a wide cast of characters it is not difficult to follow each character’s fate, whatever befalls them. In fact there is never a dull moment with drug smuggling, corporate takeovers, airport killings, fake pregnancies, espionage, Nobel prizes and political intrigue all contributing to the melodrama.

Baron Archer of Weston-Super-Mare was a conservative party MP and friend to Margaret Thatcher prior to becoming a writer. He began to write in 1976 as a means to escape impending bankruptcy. The aptly named NOT A PENNY MORE, NOT A PENNY LESS became a surprise best seller. Forty years on Archer has rarely been a darling of critics despite frequently gracing the number one spot on the bestseller lists. Indeed each volume of the Clifton Chronicles has reached the number one spot on best seller lists around the world. Whilst cynics are quick to point out that this may be because of a successful integrated global marketing campaign, it is worth also noting that each volume in the series has sold more than the book before it, in all formats.

Although Archer’s output now comprises 21 novels, 3 prison diaries and 3 short story collections, he is under no illusions about his literary skill. Quick to eschew the title “author” he prefers storyteller. Unlike his Clifton Chronicle character, Anatoly Babakova, it is unlikely he will ever be awarded a Nobel Prize for literature. Instead he seems quite happy positioning himself with Harold Robbins in the airport bookshops stacked with books designed to entertain readers on long haul flights.


Jeffrey Archer Author image


Archer notably shuns fine writing, preferring to use a vocabulary suitable for average readers. His books are unashamedly plot driven, so he does not let his characters get in the way of his plots. This means that whilst readers superficially get to know his characters, deep insights are unusual. Nonetheless his characters become memorable through the events that involve them. It is notable however that whilst the Clifton Chronicles is not based on real people, there are several similarities between Jeffrey and Mary Archer and Harry and Emma Clifton.

COMETH THE HOUR focuses on the years 1970 -1978. Twice divorced Giles Barrington is pursuing a political career; Harry Clifton is a successful author; Sebastian Clifton is a successful investment banker; and Emma Clifton is running Barrington shipping. Meanwhile Adrian Sloane and Desmond Mellor’s schemes create havoc by white-anting Sebastian Clifton and friend Hakim Bishara’s banking reputations; Giles’ ex –wife Lady Virginia Fenwick manipulates hapless multimillionaire Cyrus T Grant III with devastating efficiency; M16 and the KGB compete in the double agent stakes; and various legal eagles rake in the dough.

Thematically Archer is interested in power and corruption so his characters, often otherwise rational human beings, frequently become enmeshed in politics or corporate life. In COMETH THE HOUR the Barrington’s and Clifton’s lives are intertwined with the rise and fall of several British politicians, including Lord Archer’s friend in real life, Margaret Thatcher, to whom he is notably kind in this portrayal. Corporate takedowns are another staple with Archer being a firm believer that it always pays to read the fine print. Legal loopholes, betrayal and revenge are also common in his books and COMETH THE HOUR is no exception.


Cometh The Hour Book Cover image


Archer winds up COMETH THE HOUR at a suitable spot: one character is facing execution, another financial ruin, another is incarcerated but actively plotting revenge, whilst others are facing ongoing political and corporate challenges. Like pond life that resurfaces in the spring, there is no doubt that in the final book, THIS WAS A MAN, the Clifton’s and Barrington’s will re-emerge; and the villains despite their setbacks, will plot new nefarious ways to destroy them.

The Clifton Chronicles have all the trappings of a good TV mini-series, and with HBO and the BBC rumoured to be looking at it now, I expect it won’t be long before that eventuates. COMETH THE HOUR is a speedy, easy reading experience without literary pretension aimed at fans of Jeffrey Archer or fans of the Clifton Chronicles series. The eventful narrative, with its various twists and turns, ticks along briskly as the Clifton’s and Barrington’s deal with the various trials and tribulations in their lives. The good news for fans is that they won’t have long to wait for the final instalment THIS WAS A MAN because it is scheduled for release in November.


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Deborah is a lifelong lover of books, food, TV and film with a penchant for schlock horror, superheroes, science , black comedy and Asian martial arts stars. She would prefer to skydive than couch surf and is a fan of zombie walks. She can be found plugged into podcasts on long walks with her dog.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.