Sins Of The Father
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 384 pages
The Sins Of The Father is the sequel to Jeffrey Archer’s Only Time Will Tell and the second in his ambitious series of five books spanning 100 years. If you haven’t read the first part, the sequel won’t make much sense, as the story of Sins... picks up where its prequel left off. Harry Clifton, who had assumed a different identity and was arrested in New York at the close of the previous book, is sentenced to six years in prison as Tom Bradshaw.
No one back in Bristol knows that Harry is alive. So when Emma, his fiance, visits Maisie, Harry’s mother, and notices an envelope addressed in Harry’s handwriting, she immediately assumes he is alive and in America. She travels to New York following Tom Bradshaw’s trail and finds out that Harry was conned into serving another man’s sentence by a conniving lawyer. But when she isn’t allowed to meet Harry in prison, she starts to despair, turning to a great aunt settled in New York for help.
Meanwhile, Giles Barrington, Harry’s best friend and Emma’s brother, upon hearing that Harry was buried at sea, retreats into a shell, determined to keep away from the war. But he overhears his grandfather refer to him as a coward, and he signs up. He is assigned to Tabruk, where he is captured and sent to a German POW camp. When he escapes and returns to Bristol to take over the empire he was born into, he is told that Harry, his possible half-brother, is the rightful owner of the estate.
Giles and Emma’s father, Hugo Barrington, who had disappeared from the church on Emma and Harry’s wedding day, moves to London and lives off a rich Jewish woman and fathers her bastard child. Before she can give him the news, Hugo reads his father’s obituary in the papers and returns to Bristol to take over the Barrington shipping empire. Maisie Clifton, who had slept with Hugo one time just before she married her husband, is the other important character in the novel.
Predictably, characters that aren’t essential to the main storyline conveniently drop dead along the way.
What made Only Time Will Tell enjoyable was the narrative: the story was told through multiple points of view, each version of the tale carried forward the element of suspense. Sins..., however, has a comparatively staid narrative. While the tale is still told through different characters’ perspectives, the story trudges on towards a predictable end. Like its prequel, part deux of Harry’s story ends with a cliffhanger — rather gimmicky, considering the year-long wait for its sequel.