False Impression: Jeffery Archer

About the Author

Jeffrey Archer, one of the greatest popular novelists of our generation, delivers a truly page-turning thriller. He was born in London, brought up in Somerset, the son of a printer, and educated at Wellington School, and Brasenose College, Oxford. He has served five years in the House of Commons, fourteen years in the House of Lords and two in Her Majesty’s prisons, which spawned three highly acclaimed Prison Diaries.

Jeffrey Archer whose novels and short stories include Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, Kane & Abel and Twist in The Tale, has topped the best sellers’ lists around the world.

False Impression is his first novel since being released from prison. He has a love of art and it is very clearly portrayed in this novel. Jeffrey has been married for 40 years to Dr Mary Archer and has two sons, William and James who live in London and Cambridge.
False Impression is a mystery novel first published in February, 2005 by Macmillan. It is a 385 page novel and keeps us engrossed in its plot till the end. It deals with a famous work of Van Gogh- Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear.

About the Book

September 10, 2001. Victoria Wentworth, an heiress whose family fortune has declined tremendously due to financial mismanagement, is murdered in her home after deciding to sell a Van Gogh painting to pay off her debts. Romanian-born Dr. Anna Petrescu, an employee of her creditor, is the spunky, brainy, and beautiful heroine of False Impression. Anna is not only a former track star, but she also has a Ph. D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania.

She is one of the world’s leading experts in fine Renaissance artwork. She had worked at Southeby’s auction house but lost that job due to an indiscreet comment to someone she trusted. Now, she works for Bryce Fenston, the head of Fenston Banking and a major art collector. Bryce, on more than one occasion, has confiscated the paintings of clients who could not pay their outstanding loans to his bank.
It is September 11, 2001. Anna has found a way for one of Fenston’s clients that is Victoria Wentworth to save the family heirlooms and repay Fenston.

He is unhappy because he wants the priceless Van Gogh –Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear that was sold by the painter to one of the Wentworth ancestors. If the loan is repaid, he can’t claim the painting. They meet in the offices on the 83rd floor of the North Tower. They have a short meeting. Fenston leaves for a meeting on Wall Street. Anna goes back to her office and is waiting at the elevator when the plane hits the building.

Anna follows instructions immediately and heads towards the stairwell. She is one of the few people from the Fenston offices who survives the building’s collapse. Plus she is considered missing, presumed dead. She takes this opportunity to fly to England to protect the Van Gogh for the Wentworth family. But because of 9/11 attacks all the flights had been grounded. Anna first takes a ferry to New Jersey and later on hires a van from the happy hire company and decides to drive all the way to Toronto airport.

Fenston’s man Karl Leapmann makes all the arrangement to reach London as soon as possible because he has the feeling that Anna is not dead, he even goes to her flat to confirm of her death. In the mean time Anna missed her flight to London and decides to go to London via Amsterdam.

When she arrives in London she straight away goes to Wentworth Hall to speak to Lady Victoria just to know she has been murdered. She meets her sister Lady Arabella and tells her about Fenston’s plot and decides to help her. She later contacts Ruth Parish who has the painting and has no idea that Anna has been fired from the company. Playing some tricks, Anna takes the painting from her and goes to Bucharest. When Leapmann arrives in London he only gets to know that Anna has taken the painting.

When she arrives in Bucharest she meets her mother and her long time friend Anton. Here she realises that she is being followed by someone but is unaware that she is being followed by two people, one of them is Olga Krantz whom Fenston has sent to kill Anna and get the painting, which she has in her possession. The second is Jack Delaney, an FBI agent who thinks Anna has stolen the painting and is working for Bryce Fenston.

Anna further goes to Japan to meet the Japanese businessman Mr. Nakamura of the Maruha Steel Company. She thinks she will be able to sell the painting to Mr. Nakamura and The Wentworth State will stay with its rightful owners as the price of the painting will clear all their debts. Mr. Nakamura likes the painting and is ready to buy it. But he learns later that the painting is termed as stolen goods. Anna told him everything about the painting and Lady Victoria and Nakamura agrees to buy the painting though he doesn’t tell Anna that his driver was in the hospital and somebody had attacked him while he was taking the painting home.

After finalising the deal with Mr.Nakamura, Anna returns back to Bucharest. She wonders how the person following her knows where she is going. Krantz knows where she is going because Leapmann is getting Fenston’s secretrary Tina’s phone is tapped so when Anna speaks to her all the information is brought to the notice of Fenston while Jack is just following her. Later in Bucharest she collects the painting from Anton and sends it to London where Ruth Parish collects it and quickly sends it to New York. Anna goes back to Wentworth hall and tells her all the news. Later on she discovers that Jack is an FBI agent and they together return back to New York.

In the mean time when Anna was in Bucharest Olga had been following her. Olga murders Sergei, the driver with whom Anna was travelling in Bucharest. Olga is also caught in Bucharest but later on she fools one of the guards and escapes from the hospital she was in.
When Jack and Anna return to New York Jack begins his investigation on Olga and Anna is happy that she was successful in selling the painting.

The painting, which Ruth Parish had dispatched from London was now in Fenston’s Office and he was happy with it when Leapmann suggests to him to get the painting checked. That is the time when Fenston comes to know that the painting was duplicate. In fact Anna had shipped the wrong painting, which she had requested her friend Anton to paint for her while the original painting was in Wentworth Hall.

Jack through his investigation discovers that Olga is keeping money in a Romanian club and discovers more that two million dollars there. Leapmann is caught while keeping the money and he promises that he will bring all the evidence to the FBI in order that his sentence is reduced to five years instead of life imprisonment. But when he is trying to do this Fenstons sees him and sets on the alarm, which is switched off after four hours and because of this he becomes unconscious.

Tina is fired from her work. Anna goes back to London as Mr. Nakamura was also coming to London to take the painting. When they are dining in the hall, Olga is also present there who reaches there by changing a lot of get up’s to kill Anna and to destroy the Van Gogh on Fenston’s orders.

But in the end though she manages to get hold of Van Gogh and Anna but she is not able to kill Anna as Lady Arabella arrives in the room and Van Gogh, she destroys it – not the original but its duplicate. Jack is finally able to close the case against Fenston. It even gets clear in the end that Tina works for Fenston because her family has also been a victim by the hands of Fenston.

Thus this story has a journey of twists and turns and takes us from New York to London to Bucharest and onto Tokyo and finally a sleepy English village where the mystery of the Van Gogh finally ends. One of the most entertaining books by Jeffrey Archer and a must read for all. The book binds us till the end with its rich plot.

NilayaMitash Shanker