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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller Jeffrey Archer continues his beloved Clifton Chronicle series as Harry and Emma finally begin building a happy life - but a dangerous family enemy is about to resurface....

Best Kept Secret opens a moment after the end of The Sins of the Father, with the resolution of the trial and the triumphant marriage of Harry Clifton and Elizabeth Barrington, finally uniting their family. Harry, now a best-selling novelist; Emma; their son, Sebastian; and orphaned Jessica make a new life for themselves, but all is not as happy and secure as it could be. Emma's brother, Giles, is engaged to a woman who may be more interested in Barrington's fortune and title than in a long and happy marriage. And Sebastian, though he is bright, isn't quite the hard worker that his father was at school, and finds a hard time resisting the temptations that his somewhat unsavory friends provide.

It all comes to a head when a new villain is uncovered, a face from the past with grudges against both Harry and Giles - Fisher, who tortured Harry at school and later took credit for Giles' heroics during the war. Fisher teams up with Giles' now ex-wife to wreak havoc on Giles' latest election as well as meddle with affairs inside Barringtons, while Harry and Emma must deal with a new scheme that Sebastian has unwittingly fallen into with a supposed friend. The drama continues for Harry Clifton and his family, bringing this mesmerizing saga into the 1960s.

©2013 Jeffrey Archer (P)2013 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Running out of material?

I love Archer's books. Thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Clifton Chronicles series....couldn't stop listening. But this one just didn't draw me in as much. Seemed "forced", like he was trying to make things happen when he really didn't have a good story. The cliff hanger didn't annoy me as much as some of the reviewers, because I expected it after the second book. I feel like it's easy to guess how it will turn out in the next book though. I'm not sure if I will buy the next two though as this one disappointed. Maybe he rushed it too much to get the next one in the series out?

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • DIANE
  • Thornhill,, Ontario, Canada
  • 05-19-13

Like a run-on sentence

What disappointed you about Best Kept Secret?

So many things disappointed me about this book. The ending was abrupt and left one thinking that the only thing Jeffrey Archer was thinking about when creating it, was selling his next book in the series. The characters were hard to believe and inconsistent, with very poor character development evident in everyone except perhaps Emma and Harry Clifton. The story wound its way without any rhyme or reason through various twists and turns that did not seem congruent with each other. I did not feel the book had any cohesiveness. This was a dramatic change from how I felt about all the other Jeffrey Archer books I've read to date.

Has Best Kept Secret turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, definitely not, since I've read enough of Mr. Archer's books to believe that the next one will be better and this one was just a "glitch" in the middle of his wonderful series.

What about Alex Jennings and Emilia Fox ’s performance did you like?

The voices were well done for the most part.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It kept me reading, despite the very abrupt and inappropriate ending.

Any additional comments?

Will I buy the next book in the series? Of course. Jeffrey Archer has proved himself in his other masterpieces of mystery and I will of course, succumb. But a slap on the hand for Mr. Archer after reading The Best Kept Secret... The name is apt, since I was unable to figure out what the secret was.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • cristina
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 05-08-13

Plot without characters

I enjoyed the previous two books and was disappointed with this third installment. Unlike some of the other reviewers, however, my disappointment was not with the abrupt ending. It was with the novel itself. The story 'reads' like a plot outline -- with absolutely no character development whatsoever even by Jeffrey Archer's standards. So Character A, for example, will go from being a difficult child to a model adolescent with absolutely no explanation as to what brought the change about. Character B, besotted with his wife and willing to forsake all else at her request, is able to move on from his infatuation at the drop of a dime. Of course, the infatuation seems absurd from the start since Character C, the wife, is a cartoonish Cruella Deville without a single redeeming quality -- and the fact that Character B fell madly in love with her seems, well, out of character. In this novel, the characters are all lowercase and act however they have to at that moment in order to move The Plot along. And, believe me, The Plot moves...at dizzying speed and in all kinds of preposterous directions. It's almost like if Archer is thinking of what will happen next as he types! In fact, I am not even sure what "the Best Kept Secret" was meant to be since the story line regarding what I THOUGHT was "the secret" does not get resolved. In fact, it is not even mentioned in the last 50 or more pages of The Plot. (Could it be that the audible production did leave a section out?) If you are a Jeffrey Archer fan, by all means, download it. It's not deep, but it is kind-of entertaining. I am sure I will buy the next one.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Beyond disappointing...

What disappointed you about Best Kept Secret?

I've been a big fan of Archer and the Clifton Chronicles, but this book may have turned me off for good. Archer phoned this one in. The book simply seems rushed and thrown together. Some parts of the story were interesting, but it was predicable at every turn.

What could Jeffrey Archer have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

He could have actually put forth an effort to write a quality book.

What three words best describe Alex Jennings’s performance?

Jennings was fine.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Both disappointment and anger. Disappointment that a series I previously enjoyed was ruined and anger at how little effort was put forth (not to mention the fact that Archer and his publisher are attempting to force fans to pay five times for a single story).

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Best Kept Secret still a secret

What would have made Best Kept Secret better?

I think Jeffrey should hire Christina from Somerville, MA as a proofreader an critic. I concur with her full assessment. Great job articulating the multitude of issues with this book. Jeffrey should be ashamed of himself to actually publish such a terrible piece of work. His has done, and is capable of, so much better than this. I would consider this a "trash novel". In addition, be aware that this is not the end of a trilogy.

Would you ever listen to anything by Jeffrey Archer again?

yes, but only after reading reviews very carefully.

Would you be willing to try another one of Alex Jennings and Emilia Fox ’s performances?

Yes,

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It passed the time while I was doing housework!

Any additional comments?

Loyalty only goes so far. My respect for Mr. Archer is dwindling. I'd rather wait for a book of quality than have my time wasted. I used to have Mr. Archer on par with Ken Follett but I don't think he can redeem himself from this book.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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good, but recycled

What did you love best about Best Kept Secret?

It kept me interested. However, I was disappointed to discover some subplots are recycled from previous works. A little "Kane and Abel", a little "Prisoner of Birth", and one chapter was nearly verbatim from "Sons of Fortune". Can you plagiarize yourself?

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

I felt very invested in what happened to everyone in the story, kept me coming back whenever I had a moment to listen

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Very disappointing

I can't complain about the ending because I can't get that far. I'm half way through and just don't care enough about the characters to go on. Despite having gotten to know them all in the first two books, they now seem to have no personality and no "story". The plot is written like an outline with huge jumps between scenes and passes through time so quickly you wonder if you missed a part.
The first two books in the series were wonderful and I couldn't stop listening. This one I stopped after a couple of hours and came back to it weeks later. Now, I'm half way and know it's just not worth my time.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Joel
  • NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States
  • 05-13-13

Compelling Yet Needed More Plot

I absolutely loved the first two books in The Clifton Chronicles. It was a fresh feel for Jeffrey Archer and the characters within the series were easy to connect with.

Now in the third book in the series, it’s starting to feel a bit long in the tooth. Archer is one of the finest authors out there and he makes a plot that is thin to begin with still interesting to read. However when you compare Best Kept Secret to the first two books it’s a sad step in the wrong direction.

Outside of the very last few chapters of the book there wasn't a ton of compelling reasons to keep on with the series. It’s unfortunate but I think this book may prove that Archer stretched out this series a little longer then it needed to be.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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More,and more, and more of the same old, same old,

Would you try another book from Jeffrey Archer and/or Alex Jennings and Emilia Fox ?

I keep trying Mr Archer, everyone says he is a good author, so somewhere, someday, there must be a good book. But, not today and definitely not this book! The prior books were poor and predictable; this one is rubbish. The plot is, charitably, stupid, inconsistent and totally unbelievable. The reader is good, but it would take a miraculous performance to turn this drivel into anything approaching an average story.

What was most disappointing about Jeffrey Archer’s story?

Totally predictable and yet completely unbelievable.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not a single redeeming feature. Probably the worst audio book I have ever heard.

Any additional comments?

I assume there are more episodes to this painful series - don't buy this, or them!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I was disappointed

I was unaware that this would not be the end of this sequence. I thought I read in a review of the author that it would end with this book. Only Time Will tell was a good read. Sins of the Father was ok but this book was too scattered and stopping where it did wasn't just disappointing, it made me mad. The first part of the book dragged to the point of I wondered if it was the same story. Then just as he was getting the story started, it came to an abrupt end. And where was Ms. Fox in the narration? I liked the way she read the story from the women's point of view in book one. I read the second book myself. But I never heard her voice in this third book.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful