Jeffrey Howard Archer (born April 15, 1940) is an English author and former politician. He was a Member of Parliament and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and became a life peer in 1992. His political career, having suffered several controversies, ended after a conviction for perverting the course of justice and his subsequent imprisonment. He is married to Mary Archer, a scientist specializing in solar power. Outside of politics, he is a novelist, playwright and short story writer. He is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction, short stories and non-fiction.


If you have to pay a bill, always make it look as if the amount is of no consequence.

Kane and Abel is the tale of two men having nothing in common other than their birthday and an insatiable thirst for success. William Kane is born to a successful Bostonian banker; Abel, born in a forest, is raised by a poverty-stricken trapper family. And so the tale follows Kane and Abel over the next sixty years. The two men have a first-hand experience of both the Wars, the Wall Street Crash, bankruptcy and death. Archer weaves an intricate and entertaining tale of revenge and hatred as he chronicles the seemingly unrelated lives of the two protagonists. The end result is a bittersweet finale that concludes the tale perfectly.

In addition to the sheer length of the book – 550 pages, to be precise – the action-packed nature of every single page gives readers the impression as though they were reading several books, and not just one. At no point does the storyline let up; it never drags or loses its pace. A major part of the plot is descriptive in nature. However, this suits the subject matter as readers travel through various decades and different parts of the world.

Kane and Abel follows the two protagonists right from the moment they are born in the mortal realm to the time they leave it. He dedicates alternative chapters to both of them. Some chapters are fairly long, making it perfectly natural for the readers to forget what had been going on with the other character by the time they get back to him. That said, the other chapters are so compelling that rarely do they lose track of the story of the concerned character. The characters are well delineated. Rich backgrounds are provided with complete histories, much to the chagrin of quite a few readers.

The level of detail is particularly intriguing and invites the readers to become part of the family. It is convenient to skim over these parts if one gets easily bored by this type of prose. It is, however, not what people refer to as “filler fodder” as it really does flesh out the story. The dialog is fantastic and is in keeping with both the historical and geographical backgrounds in which the story is set.

SHE ONLY stopped screaming when she died. It was then that he started to scream.

It is actually quite praiseworthy how time flies while reading such a voluminous book. Given that the book spans six decades, the readers run the risk of being baffled by the events in the books. It is clearly evident that both the protagonists undergo several changes as they age. And even though both of them come from completely different backgrounds, they are essentially the same at heart. At no point in the book do the readers feel that either of them has become a better person than the other.

On the flip side, it seems at times that the book focuses too much on business. It delves deep – perhaps too deep – into the empire-building endeavors of the two characters. While the author may be excused here since this subplot is pivotal to the storyline, it must be said that this almost invariably puts the readers off a bit. The book also contains its fair share of technical jargon and vocabulary. Furthermore, parents planning to gift this novel to their kids may like to take note of its graphic sexual content and action sequences, which may be unsuitable for impressionable young minds.

Ameya Rating:

Overall an exciting tale, Kane and Abel does not disappoint and is fully worthy of a 4.2-star rating. It is one of those books that paint such a vivid description of the setting that readers feel the story growing on them, and them growing along with it.

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