A Twist in the Tale (short story collection)
|Published||Simon and Schuster, 1988|
The Perfect Murder
The writer kills his mistress inadvertently during an argument when he finds her being unfaithful to him; and is chosen as a jury member to try a man accused of murdering the same woman. He, as the foreman of the jury, pronounces a guilty verdict on the accused—thereby exonerating himself completely.
Clean Sweep Ignatius
Ignatius Agarbi is the new Financial Minister of Nigeria. He begins a sweep on corruption and makes a name for himself. He is extremely honest, even insisting that his family vacations be billed to himself and not to his ministry. He is entrusted by his President to find out how many Nigerians have stashed their bribes in Switzerland.
He arrives at the Swiss Bank with a briefcase. Despite his greatest persuasion, the Swiss refuse to break their code of privacy. In the end, Ignatius places a gun to the head of the Swiss banker and threatens to kill him. Still the banker refuses to divulge any confidential information.
Ignatius, who is actually extremely corrupt, was only checking to find out if the Swiss Banks would actually reveal the name of an account holder. Delighted with their secrecy, Ignatius invests nearly $5 Million in cash which he has skimmed during his period as Financial Minister.
A la carte
Mark's Hapgood has finished high school when his father refuses to allow him to join Triumph car factory as a floor worker—until he takes a year at a second task or second job.
Hapgood is angry, but finds a placement through his father as a porter in a hotel. Mark is annoyed with the Head porter who keeps taking his tips from him all the time and he finally expresses his annoyance. The Head porter fires Mark but Mark begs the manager for another job. Mark is given the job of a potato peeler when he encounters Chef Jacques who is quickly impressed with Mark's skills and soon introduces him to slicing. When Mark's year is up and he is about to leave, he realises that he actually loves cooking and joins Jacques to become an international chef with a huge reputation.
He is grateful to his father and tells a waiter in his restaurant that his father was stuck with a boring job in Triumph because he did not have a father like Mark's.
Not the real thing
Gerald Haskins and Walter Ramsbottom are friends and rivals. Gerald steals Walter's Fiancee Angela Bradbury and marries her. Years later, Gerald manages to become a very successful engineer and is awarded a Multavian Order of the Peacock, Third Class—a cheap piece of jewellery. When Walter pokes fun of it and claims to be receiving a 14K gold chain as Mayor, Gerald visits a popular jeweller in London and asks the jeweller to make a copy of the original order—from pure gold and actual precious stones—worth GBP 211,000.
However, during a coronation, his precious Gold Order is replaced with a Second Class Order by the King of Multavia who takes his third class order back.
Gerald decides to make a gold copy of this one as well in time for Walter Ramsbottom's mayor coronation ceremony.
(This story became the leading title to the best selling anthology paperback of 1995 with the same title.)
This is a tragic love story. It is written largely from the perspective of the protagonist, Benjamin, a lawyer, who is the son of a rabbi. It is set in Canada and starts in Benjamin's high school years.
Benjamin, a Jew, falls in love with Christina, a German girl whose father is anti-Semitic, and had fought under the Nazis—for which he had been awarded the Iron Cross. As their forbidden romance grows, Christina becomes pregnant by Benjamin. But she is taken away immediately by her family, and forced to marry the son of an old family friend, Klaus Willing. However, it proves a sham marriage.
Five years later, Benjamin reestablishes contact with Christina where they both live and work in Toronto. She divorces her husband and in exchange for a swift divorce, he gets custody of the boy Nicholas—who cannot see his real father until he is 21 and should not be told he is Benjamin's son. A year into their newly rekindled passionate relationship and marriage, Christina is pregnant again, and gives birth to a girl named Deborah.
Unfortunately, she had not warned Benjamin that there were complications when she gave birth the first time, and had been advised by the doctors not to have any more children. She died during the childbirth. While on the way to the funeral, Benjamin—who is reconciled with Christina's parents and his own father—passes by the hospital to see Deborah. Unfortunately, the Baby Deborah was too weak to survive and died not long after the birth. Unable to withstand the loss of both wife and child at the same day, Benjamin commits suicide.
The story ends with the revelation that what the reader understands to be Benjamin's contemporaneous rendering of the event's is in fact a suicide note that his father, the old rabbi, has read each day for the last ten years since the suicide occurred.
The story begins by introducing an alluring woman, whose entrance into the room is marked by every one of its occupants. The narrator goes on to describe the event as a chess tournament, where the lady is a new participant, and he himself was the Chess Club's new captain.
The tournament follows round-robin pairing, as the narrator finds himself facing a thin man, wearing a three-piece suit and half-moon spectacles, an accountant working in Woking. The beautiful stranger finds herself pitted against an elderly gentleman, who was once the club captain, but was now well past his prime. The narrator follows her every move, albeit inconspicuously. In the second round, she plays the accountant whom the narrator had defeated before the break. After a few rounds, they are acquainted over drinks, and the woman introduces herself as Amanda Curzon.
The narrator offers to drive her home, but soon invites her over to his place for a drink. One thing leads to another, as he pulls out an ornate chess set, and challenges her to a game, on the pretext that they were not able to play against each other at the tournament. He then proposes a wager- if she won, he would hand her ten pounds, but if he won, she would take off a piece of clothing, or an accessory.
As the game ensues, the narrator stalls for twenty minutes out of courtesy, and then brings it to a decisive checkmate. Amanda kicks off her shoes. Although she wishes to leave, he calls for a "double or quits"; twenty pounds to another garment. She accepts, and another half-hour later, her stockings are off.
The stakes are raised yet again, and within minutes, her black suspender belt joins her stockings and shoes. More fired up than ever, the narrator sets the board yet again. She puts up an impressive resistance this time, and it seems that she has got the better of him, until he plays a move similar to Karpov's Sicilian Defence, and wins yet again. She allows him to unzip the back of her dress, and lets it fall to the floor.
As the narrator returns from the kitchen with a new drink, he sees her there, dressed in nothing but a pair of panties and a gauzy black bra. In a final gamble, seething with excitement, he suggests they play for two hundred pounds, or both garments. The game lasts mere minutes, she annihilates him, and smiles enigmatically. Checkmate.
Before he can even process what has happened, all her clothes are back on. She smiles as he signs over two hundred pounds in her name, and leaves, shutting the front door behind her. Wondering how she would return home, the narrator races out, only to see her enter a BMW. She is joined by his first opponent, the accountant. Having succeeded in an elaborately planned conspiracy, the two smug faces drive off into the night.
- Just Good Friends
- The Steal
- Colonel Bullfrog
- Honour Among Thieves (In later editions, The Wine Taster so as not to be confused with his novel)
- A Chapter of Accidents
- The Loophole
- "A Twist in the Tale". Magill Book Reviews. 8 January 1990.
- Archer, Jeffrey: A Twist in the Tale ISBN 0-340-40538-4