Jeffrey Archer weaves a wonderfully fast-paced story into the historical context of the Cold War. The story takes place in 1966 and has several references to events that happened in the previous 99 years. Some of the events seem far-fetched, but Mr. Archer develops the plot in such a way to make them work. Perhaps the most implausible element of the plot is that Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering would have gone out of his way to show any consideration to a representative of the enemy who had defeated Germany and was about to execute him. But it is not hard to get past the implausible and enjoy the story.
In addition to the fast-paced plot with multiple creative plot twists, Mr. Archer has a very satisfying writing style. Unlike many other novelists, Mr. Archer is capable of creating dialogue and conveying emotions without relying on four-letter words. He works in appropriate similes such as “waiting like an orphan who has been told there will be second helpings.” And he helps explain context to his readers by seamlessly inserting social commentary such as “Swiss taxi drivers know the way to the banks in the same way as London cabbies can always find a theater and New York’s cabs a West Side bar” and “a lapsed Catholic, he found he no longer believed in God—except when he was ill, frightened, or in an airplane.”
One could argue that the protagonist, Adam Scott, is a bit too virtuous, and the adversary, Alex Romanov, is a bit too villainous. This is probably true, but these characterizations enable the author to develop suspense as Romanov uses his skills to attempt to capture Scott and the unique work of art that he possesses and Scott uses his skills to try to evade capture.