The Eleventh Commandment by Jeffrey Archer Book Review | Valueless Novel
I read The Eleventh Commandment by Jeffrey Archer last week. Though I never enjoyed Jeffrey Archer books, his popularity is too much to ignore. And again and again, I gave his book ‘chances’. I have 2 more Jeffrey Archer books on my shelf now, which I am surely going to read. And I am sure I am not going to like them either.
My issue with Jeffrey Archer is not his meatless writing, or his overly description of mundane actions, but it is the lack of concrete plot. And I am not even a plot junkie. I read and enjoy Kate Atkinson books, which are mainly character driven. But the lack of plot is balanced with the admirable language.
There is an audience out there for the empty calories and fast paced thrillers. I am also one of them, reading such books when tired, taking the quick bite to get back to the reading mindset.
But somehow I am not able to enjoy this one at all.
Maybe it is the protagonist. He is a 55 year old man doing a spy mission for the CIA. I am exposed to young assassins doing cool action scenes, and not vulnerable old men taking precautions in shooting a person. So it comes out uncool.
And when I was reading the book, I was remembering George Martin, who wrote a fat character. That character learns from books and joins the league of legends like John Snow, and Jaimie Lannister. And how and why? By reading the books. What a stupid notion.
If books make people smart, I would not be this big fool.
Authors putting themselves into the book and then making the character the protagonist seems so amateur.
Oka ! I get it. There is this manly urge to come out as a hero. In fact I do too. To save the day. And people do write books picturing themselves as heroes, but when it becomes too obvious, it feels like the book has been written with self-serving intention. At that point, I do not think the writer can do justice with the character and pacing.
Like in The Eleventh Commandment, every other character is praising the protagonist.
- He is the best of the best.
- He is a professional professional.
- He is the best friend a person could ask for.
- He is the best dad and husband.
- He is a gallantry medal winner.
But on the other hand, he is so stupid and cannot tell apart the recorded and real voice.
The CIA calls him and uses the recorded president’s voice to command him about a mission. I mean if you are that professional as all other people claim, then how can you not ensure the voice you are hearing is coming from the president. You only have to mention some recent event into the conversation, and the agency recorded templates would not be prepared for it.
And again we see how easily he gets captured. He recognizes police are circulating the area, and he still goes ahead with the plan. He is always piecing the puzzles together when it’s too late.
Another case was when he got a good job in a good company. But when he lost it, and the CIA offered him a new job, he failed to connect the dots. And he is supposed to be a smart person.
What about working with the CIA, and not having any exit strategy? Stupid kids joining the mafia creates exist strategy as soon as possible. That would be the most foolish thing he did. He must have lots of intel which he can use to get the proper exit, as it is being pushed many times that he typically handles high-end missions.
It is not the first time the CIA screwed their agent, so he must know what could happen to him. And he still does not prepare for the emergency situation.
The more I think about the protagonist, the more foolish he comes out. Sometimes smartness comes from the perception of smartness. Wise people are not wise because they know everything, but they associate with people who consider them wise. He is the smartest person in the room, and he decided to stay with them, but it turns out other people were smarter than him. So, thinking he was smartest, he never learned anything, and got his friend killed.
That’s why it is necessary to admit your diseases. So the cure can begin. You can ignore the insects all you want, but they will keep talking, and keep chirping. You cannot sleep because insects are there, sitting on you. Avoiding the insects does not work in the long term, sooner or later someone is going to get hurt.
In the book, the friend gets hurt. But in reality, the friends are not kind and helpful. The protagonist will die. And he dies, in the end, theatrically, but maybe he should not have come back. Because he came back and wasted the sacrifice.
And is it the female bashing I observe in the book?
The head of the CIA is a female, who runs it ruthlessly, and takes strong decisions. But the strong decisions are more in her interest instead of the country’s interest. The president comes and goes, but the president stays.
Again the book never exposed the female head – how she is exploiting her position. Okay! She makes decisions without telling the President, but it does not mean the decisions were wrong. Because the book never proved her decisions were wrong.
All we know is she ordered assassination of a communist leader. And I guess that is what the American public and president likes. Murder of commies. So when she did it, it was wrong. But if the president commands the army to do it, it is right.
And the book does not even try to prove her wrong. Her only mistake was not taking permission from the president, which she does not even need. Her decision does not affect America negatively. It is just the clash of man and woman, and surely, man wins in the end.
I am not a feminist, but even I can see how horribly she was portrayed as this evil against America. But one has to actually prove their claim.
But I guess Jeffrey Archer believes in telling and not showing.
However, the review ends here. —————————————————————————–