Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Perfect Murder - Jeffrey Archer

Name of the story: The Perfect Murder

Author: Jeffrey Archer
Source: A Twist In The Tale

Story Number: 10
Jeffrey Archer doesn’t need any introduction. Along with his bestselling novels, he is also a wonderful writer of short stories. His first three collections ‘A Quiver Full Of Arrows’, ‘A Twist In The Tale’ & ‘Twelve Red Herrings’ are a treat for any reader, which encompasses stories across all genres, each with a wonderful twist which the reader wouldn’t have anticipated. Somehow for me, his three recent collections didn’t leave up to the same expectations as the earlier three. I’m picking the first story from his second collection ‘A Twist in the Tale’ as it includes all the typical characteristics of an Archer story with an added bonus of the courtroom drama.
The story starts off with the narrator expressing surprise that his mistress Carla had slept with another man. One evening, Carla calls him and asks him not to come to her house as she is going off to her sister’s place, which he doesn’t believe. When he does go to her house to check up on this, he observes Carla engaging another man. After watching the man kiss Carla and leave her house in a BMW after tearing up the parking ticket, the narrator confronts Carla and in the heat of exchanging words, he hits her on the jaw and walks out. What he doesn’t realize till the next day is the fact that this blow proved fatal for Carla. When the police declare that they are looking for a murderer, he puts in an anonymous call and gives the description of the other man who was with Carla. The police track this man through the parking ticket that was issued and charges him for Carla’s murder.
The second part of the story is the trial of the accused with our narrator taking a very keen interest in the proceedings. But in those six months leading to the trial, he has had a terrible time, looking over his shoulder all the time, every telephone ring or the door bell sending shivers down his spine, his work life deteriorating to such an extent that he gets fired.  Being unemployed end up as a blessing in disguise as he is able to attend the court proceedings everyday and watch the trail of the man whom he has accused for his own crime. In spite of a gritty performance from the defense lawyer, the case against the accused looks hopeless. Will an innocent man go the chair? Has our hero committed a perfect crime? The end of the tale reveals a cunning twist which the reader can anticipate (but few will) as all the required clues have been fairly presented in the second half of the story.

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