Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer

I read this book after being pursuaded relentlessly. So, of course, after much persuasion, I was wondering if this book should be on my bookshelves?
 The answer is yes. 
You know how I always associated Grisham with law, courts, attorneys,torts novels? Archer is a bit like that, in a sense. But, Jeffrey is the master when it comes to a novel about investment frauds, I tell you.
Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less opens up with introducing the antagonist character, Harvey McCalfe( this is his American name after he changed his Polish name, claiming that his old name could only work against his favor), a young Polish man who climbs his way up the social ladder in the most dubious way possible. Hailing from a poor family, he was more than determined to change his life. He got lucky when he ended up being a messenger boy for an investment house, and after 4 years of reading the secrets messages he was supposed to deliver to brokers and such, he has achieved the same level of brilliant of someone attempting Master at Harvard Business School.(a bit far-fetch, don't you think?) One day, he got luckier. He found a 50K cheque lying on the floor, waiting to be picked up in the loo.(Bizarre, now we can all go to the public loos and wait for miracles to happen) Yes, he cash in the cheque and used the money, all right, to buy shares and make investment for himself. Bit by bit,( because he have the brilliantness of a Harvard grad) he somehow turned those 50K into millions through insider tradings(remember, he is still a messenger boy here).
Years after, Harvey McCalfe here, evolved into a man whose main aim is to gain as many millions his grubby hands can lay on. Hence, the title. He conned 4 men and others( an art gallery owner, a doctor, an Oxford don, a Lord of some sort) into investing in his shady company, Prospecta Oil. You see, Prospecta Oil is a company that levied on the basis that the company had strike oil in the North Sea. But, it did not actually did strike oil, although the news was kept secret, so that the public will rush to purchase their shares, not knowing that there is no substance whatsoever behind the oil fiasco.
As long as the news was not announced, the shady company's share keep skyrocketing. But once the lies were out, the share prices drop from a high 7pound to a mere half a pence.
All the investors got panicked and were scrambling to sell back their shares, but hey, Prospecta Oil was not even in the market anymore. So, the investors are left penniless...
So, these 4 men I mentioned earlier set out to get even with Harvey. Okay, I can't possibly recount to you the whole event. But, this book is a must-read, I tell you.

The thing I found a bit dissapointed with this book is that the author did not go into details how the investors are persuaded into parting with their money into that investment. The details are too brief and somewhat hard to believe. Also, I think the author pick convenience when he develop the character of Harvey, of how he ended up with the 50K and the brilliance in evaluating the share market. Everything seems to be too easy, and a bit unrealistic.

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