Publisher: Macmillan (Hardcover – 27 October 2020)
Series: William Warwick – Book Two
Length: 304 pages
My Rating: 4.25 out of 5
Bestselling author Jeffrey Archer returns with the second book in his William Warwick historical crime fiction series, Hidden in Plain Sight.
London, 1986. Following the failed attempt to put his nemesis, expert art thief Miles Faulkner, behind bars, William Warwick has been promoted to Detective Sergeant and now has a whole new focus: drugs. William and his team have been assigned to take down a notorious drug kingpin, one who has all of South London in his pocket and who takes great pains to hide his identity and methods. However, despite their focus on catching this mysterious drug lord, known only as the Viper, Warwick is still determined to take down Faulkner.
When William coincidently arrests an old acquaintance from his school days, Adrian Heath, it unexpectedly provides him with the opportunity that he has been looking for. Not only does Adrian have information about the identity of the Viper, but he also has a connection to Faulkner that could be exploited to finally throw his adversary behind bars. As William attempts to close the net around his targets, he must also counter the moves of his enemies, even when they attempt to ruin his life or his upcoming marriage to Beth. However, it will take more than personal attacks and clever setbacks to discourage William, and he soon has Faulkner and the Viper exactly where he wants them. But even in defeat, Miles Faulkner is a dangerous opponent, especially now that he has his vengeful eyes fully set on William and everyone he loves.
Hidden in Plain Sight was another exciting and clever novel from Jeffery Archer featuring a compelling historical crime drama set around the life of a fun fictional character. The protagonist of this series, William Warwick, actually first came into existence in Archer’s iconic Clifton Chronicles series of historical fiction books, where he was introduced as the in-narrative fictional protagonist of a series of detective books written by the Clifton Chronicle’s main character, Harry Clifton. After Archer concluded the Clifton Chronicles a couple of years ago, he decided to provide his fans with a more detailed exploration of this fictional detective, and this series is the result. The William Warwick series looks set to be Archer’s next major long-running series and it will explore the entire career of Warwick, from eager young recruit to hardened and brilliant detective. This is the second William Warwick novel following last year’s Nothing Ventured, and Archer has come up with an enjoyable new tale that proved really hard to put down.
This second entry in the William Warwick series contains another intriguing and exciting character driven narrative that sees the protagonists engage in a game of wits with some despicable criminals. This proved to be an excellent historical crime fiction novel that not that not only continues the compelling narrative set up in the previous book in the series but which also sees the protagonist go after an entirely new foe. Archer presents a great recreation of 1980s London and takes the story in an interesting new direction by having William attempt to combat the city’s crippling drug trade. However, the story still has a fascinating focus on the world of art and antiquities and its associated criminal underbelly, thanks to the amazing returning antagonist from the first novel. This story proved to be really exciting and fast-paced, and I enjoyed the variety of different crime fiction elements that Archer included in the plot, as the protagonists attempt to take down their quarry in a number of different manners. Readers are treated to a range of great sequences, from pulse-pounding police raids, detailed investigations, cunning undercover operations and even a very entertaining courtroom sequence. Archer has loaded Hidden in Plain Sight’s story with all manner of twists and turns, so much so that the reader is often left surprised at who ends up on top and where the story will go next. This was a really enjoyable narrative that I found to be extremely addictive, resulting in me powering through the entirety of Hidden in Plain Sight in just over a day. Fans of the previous entry in the series (as well as the Clifton Chronicles) will have a great time continuing the fun story started in Nothing Ventured, while new readers will also be able to quickly dive into this novel and become engrossed in the story.
Like all of Archer’s books, the narrative of Hidden in Plain Sight is strongly driven by the excellent characters that the plot follows. Archer utilises a range of different character perspectives to tell his story, presenting a rich and multifaceted narrative that explores the lives of several intriguing protagonists, as well as a couple of great villains. Most of the story focuses on the series’ titular character, William Warwick, the determined, ambitious and righteous police officer who has dedicated his life to fighting crime. Warwick continues to grow as a detective throughout Hidden in Plain Sight, losing more of his “choir boy” personality and gradually becoming more addicted to the job and the danger. Despite that he still maintains his strong moral code and proves to be a very likeable central character, especially as Archer spends a lot of time exploring his personal life and his various relationships. In addition to Warwick, Archer also dedicates a large amount of the book to several key side characters including Warwick’s police colleagues, the major antagonists and members of Warwick’s family. These various additional characters and perspectives really added a lot to the story’s flow, and it was a much more effective way to tell this narrative than through the eyes of Warwick alone. Most of these characters are only featured for a small amount of time throughout the book, but I felt that Archer made the most of their appearances, showcasing their personalities and motivations in an excellent manner and making sure that the reader was concerned for their various story arcs.
While these books are mostly focused on the exploits of William and his crime fighting associates, the character I have the most love for is the villain, Miles Faulkner, who is a constant highlight of each book. Faulkner is a debonair and brilliant criminal mastermind who specialises in elaborate art thefts and forgeries and who gained the attention of the protagonists in Nothing Ventured. Faulkner serves as a brilliant foil to William and the other police, continually outsmarting them at every turn and thoroughly acting as the cocky master villain. Faulkner pretty much steals every scene he appears in, and you cannot help but enjoy his antics, even when you are pulling for the protagonists to knock him off his pedestal. Archer introduces a number of entertaining and clever twists around Faulkner throughout Hidden in Plain Sight, and it was extremely entertaining to see the various ways in which this antagonist manages to manipulate everyone around him and generally come up on top, even when it appears that he has lost. I personally liked the more vindictive streak that appeared as part of Faulkner’s character in this book, following his various losing encounters with William and the other protagonists. Not only does this result in a number of clever and elaborate revenge ploys but it also gives a harder edge to Faulkner as the overall antagonist of the series, and hints that he may have some diabolical plans for William in the future entries of this series. I had a lot of fun with this excellent antagonist and I cannot wait to see what villainy he unleashes next.
Hidden in Plain Sight is another fun and clever novel from Jeffery Archer that comes highly recommended. Archer has done an excellent job of continuing his William Warwick series, and readers are in for an exciting and enjoyable time with this book. I really liked where Archer took the story in Hidden in Plain Sight and I am looking forward to seeing how the series will continue next year.