The Sins of the Father (Clifton Chronicles Series #2)

The Sins of the Father (Clifton Chronicles Series #2)

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by Jeffrey Archer

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With war between Britian and Germany on the immediate horizon, Harry Clifton has joined the merchant marines to escape long buried family secrets that have just come to light. And it isn't long before war is upon them. On the very day that Britain declares war on Germany, a U-boat sinks Harry's ship. While recovering on the SS Kansas Star, a passing American cruise

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With war between Britian and Germany on the immediate horizon, Harry Clifton has joined the merchant marines to escape long buried family secrets that have just come to light. And it isn't long before war is upon them. On the very day that Britain declares war on Germany, a U-boat sinks Harry's ship. While recovering on the SS Kansas Star, a passing American cruise liner, Harry seizes on the chance to escape his tangled past by stealing the identity of an American killed in the explosion.

But upon landing in America, he quickly finds how mistaken he was when he--as Tom Bradshaw--is arrested for murder. Without any way of knowing the details of the charges, or of contacting his family across the Atlantic, or of even proving that he is anyone other than Bradshaw, Harry Clifton is trapped behind bars and chained to a past that is far worst than the one he had hoped to escape.

On the heels of the international bestseller Only Time Will Tell, Jeffrey Archer picks up the sweeping story where he left off with Sins of the Father, the next installment Archer's most ambitious series.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Audio
This latest installment in Archer's Clifton Chronicles series follows the multiple trials, tribulations, and sometime triumphs of working class Englishman Harry Clifton, his lady love Emma Barrington, and their numerous respective family members as they struggle, fight, and love their way across three continents during World War II. The tale is told from the point of view of several characters, and Alex Jennings and Emilia Fox provide narration that ably captures those characters, and render myriad voices and international accents--everything from from New York City cabbies to German officers and the stiff-upper-lipped British aristocrats. Fox particularly shines in chapters recounting the adventures of the stalwart Emma, who sets out on a mission to learn the fate of her lover that takes her from the comfort of her English homeland to the wilds of New York City. Fox skillfully brings this plucky, never say die character to life in this fast, entertaining summer listen, perfect for long drives or relaxing days in the sun. A St. Martin's hardcover. (May)
Publishers Weekly
In his sequel to Only Time Will Tell, Archer continues the Clifton Chronicles with another heavily plot-driven story that has little to hold on to in terms of character development or writing style. The novel begins hastily with Englishman Harry Clifton meticulously detailing his experiences in the American prison where he landed as a result of recently switching identities in 1939 with Lt. Tom Bradshaw, who died on the cruise liner that had rescued Clifton after his merchant marine ship was sunk by a U-boat, and who just happens to have been charged with murder. Meanwhile, the mother of Harry’s child and love of his life, Emma Barrington, crosses the Atlantic as a ship’s receptionist, hoping to glean information on Harry’s whereabouts, but without much feeling or deeply rooted motivation. As Harry accepts his fate as an inmate and Emma continues her search, the narrative rotates between one too many characters before winding back to Harry and Emma. Finally, a last-minute cliffhanger foreshadows the continuation of the story in book three of the five-part series, though Harry’s one-dimensional (albeit fast-paced) adventure in this volume does little to make subsequent Clifton Chronicles seem worthwhile. 300,000 announced first printing. Agent: Jonathan Lloyd, Curtis Brown LTD. (May)
From the Publisher

“Archer delivers another page-turning, heart-stopping saga, with delightful twists and a surprise ending… readers will surely wait for the next with bated breath.” —Publishers Weekly on Only Time Will Tell

“What appears at the outset to be a straightforward coming-of-age tale becomes, by the end, a saga of power, betrayal, and bitter hatred… An outstanding effort from a reliable veteran.” —Booklist (starred review) on Only Time Will Tell

“I was utterly hooked. It was an absurdly enjoyable read.” —Daily Telegraph (London) on Only Time Will Tell

“Archer can make you wring your hands in anguish and guffaw out loud, all on the same page, and he does in these fifteen ingenious stories.” —Star-Ledger (New Jersey) on And Thereby Hangs a Tale

“A compelling read…The pace never flags.” —Newsday (New York) on A Prisoner of Birth

Star-Ledger (New Jersey) on And Thereby Hangs a Tale

Archer can make you wring your hands in anguish and guffaw out loud, all on the same page, and he does in these fifteen ingenious stories.
Newsday (New York) on A Prisoner of Birth

A compelling read…The pace never flags.
Booklist (starred review) on Only Time Will Tell

What appears at the outset to be a straightforward coming-of-age tale becomes, by the end, a saga of power, betrayal, and bitter hatred… An outstanding effort from a reliable veteran.
Daily Telegraph (London) on Only Time Will Tell

I was utterly hooked. It was an absurdly enjoyable read.
Library Journal
In the second installment (after Only Time Will Tell) of Archer's five-volume saga, Harry Clifton, a Bristol dockworker's son, and Giles Barrington, the assumed heir to the Barrington estate, seek to enlist in World War II despite various obstacles. Harry joins the Merchant Navy and, after a German U-boat sinks his ship, is among a group rescued by an American cruise liner. He attempts to escape his past by assuming another sailor's identity but, as a result, lands in an American jail serving a six-year sentence. Meanwhile, the color-blind Barrington finagles his way into the British army, and Emma Barrington, Harry's intended, gives birth to a boy whose parentage, like Harry's, is a mystery. As usual, Archer permits his characters to drive the plot, enriching its multiple layers with their own perspectives. He also introduces semiautobiographical elements: Harry authors a series of diaries while serving as prison librarian, and in the concluding chapters, a debate regarding the Barrington Shipping fortune's legitimate heir demonstrates Archer's intimate knowledge of parliamentary procedures. VERDICT Although the plot twists and cliff-hangers seem sensational in spots, Archer's panache and sharp repartee maintain the excitement and sheer fun of reading this literary master. [See Prepub Alert, 10/31/11.]—Jerry P. Miller, Cambridge, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Archer (Only Time Will Tell, 2011, etc.) continues The Clifton Chronicles with hero Harry Clifton still in harm's way. New readers will catch up early on. World War II: Harry is convicted in state (not military) court for military desertion. Next a hoary cliché: a genial, wise old convict protects new prisoner Harry, the fresh fish. Characters receive alternating segments. First, Harry is sent to trial and prison. Then Emma Barrington, whose relationship to Harry is murky, departs England for the U.S., leaving behind a child Harry doesn't know has been born. Next comes Giles Barrington, Emma's brother and Harry's best friend. Despite period colloquial references, the prose has been Flesch-Kincaid-scrubbed to business-grade level. That aside, Archer can plot a story. Harry gets out of prison, along with his old convict buddy, by volunteering for a military special operations group, only to reappear near story's end to single-handedly capture Nazi Field Marshal Kertel's Nineteenth Armoured Corps. Emma learns Sefton Jelks, Wall Street attorney, was paid by a wealthy client to finagle Harry into prison. Jelks later is complicit in the theft of Harry's The Diary of a Convict, which becomes a bestseller under another convict's name. Giles becomes a hero at Tobruk, a prisoner of war, and then escapes. Emma and Gile's grandfather, Sir Walter, dies, and his ne'er-do-well son Hugo takes over the family business. He promptly runs the company aground but receives his comeuppance. Finally, the cast gathers in post-war England, where a paternity case is settled once and for all. An amusement suitable for airplane or beach reading.

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Product Details

Macmillan Audio
Publication date:
Clifton Chronicles Series, #2
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt


“MY NAME IS Harry Clifton.”

“Sure, and I’m Babe Ruth,” said Detective Kolowski as he lit a cigarette.

“No,” said Harry, “you don’t understand, there’s been a terrible mistake. I’m Harry Clifton, an Englishman from Bristol. I served on the same ship as Tom Bradshaw.”

“Save it for your lawyer,” said the detective, exhaling deeply and filling the small cell with a cloud of smoke.

“I don’t have a lawyer,” protested Harry.

“If I was in the trouble you’re in, kid, I’d consider having Sefton Jelks on my side to be about my only hope.”

“Who’s Sefton Jelks?”

“You may not have heard of the sharpest lawyer in New York,” said the detective as he blew out another plume of smoke, “but he has an appointment to see you at nine o’clock tomorrow morning, and Jelks don’t leave his office unless his bill has been paid in advance.”

“But—” began Harry, as Kolowski banged the palm of his hand on the cell door.

“So when Jelks turns up tomorrow morning,” Kolowski continued, ignoring Harry’s interruption, “you’d better come up with a more convincing story than we’ve arrested the wrong man. You told the immigration officer that you were Tom Bradshaw, and if it was good enough for him, it’s going to be good enough for the judge.”

The cell door swung open, but not before the detective had exhaled another plume of smoke that made Harry cough. Kolowski stepped out into the corridor without another word and slammed the door behind him. Harry collapsed on to a bunk that was attached to the wall and rested his head on a brick-hard pillow. He looked up at the ceiling and began to think about how he’d ended up in a police cell on the other side of the world on a murder charge.

*   *   *

The door opened long before the morning light could creep through the bars of the window and into the cell. Despite the early hour, Harry was wide awake.

A warder strolled in carrying a tray of food that the Salvation Army wouldn’t have considered offering a penniless hobo. Once he’d placed the tray on the little wooden table, he left without a word.

Harry took one look at the food before beginning to pace up and down. With each step, he grew more confident that once he explained to Mr. Jelks the reason he’d exchanged his name with Tom Bradshaw, the matter would quickly be sorted out. Surely the worst punishment they could exact would be to deport him, and as he’d always intended to return to England and join the navy, it all fitted in with his original plan.

At 8:55 a.m., Harry was sitting on the end of the bunk, impatient for Mr. Jelks to appear. The massive iron door didn’t swing open until twelve minutes past nine. Harry leaped up as a prison guard stood to one side and allowed a tall, elegant man with silver gray hair to enter. Harry thought he must have been about the same age as Grandpa. Mr. Jelks wore a dark blue pinstripe, double-breasted suit, a white shirt, and a striped tie. The weary look on his face suggested that little would surprise him.

“Good morning,” he said, giving Harry a faint smile. “My name is Sefton Jelks. I am the senior partner of Jelks, Myers and Abernathy, and my clients, Mr. and Mrs. Bradshaw, have asked me to represent you in your upcoming trial.”

Harry offered Jelks the only chair in his cell, as if he was an old friend who had dropped in to his study at Oxford for a cup of tea. He perched on the bunk and watched the lawyer as he opened his briefcase, extracted a yellow pad and placed it on the table.

Jelks took a pen from an inside pocket and said, “Perhaps you might begin by telling me who you are, as we both know you’re not Lieutenant Bradshaw.”

If the lawyer was surprised by Harry’s story he showed no sign of it. Head bowed, he wrote copious notes on his yellow pad while Harry explained how he’d ended up spending the night in jail. Once he’d finished, Harry assumed his problems must surely be over, as he had such a senior lawyer on his side—that was, until he heard Jelks’s first question.

“You say that you wrote a letter to your mother while you were on board the Kansas Star, explaining why you had assumed Tom Bradshaw’s identity?”

“That’s correct, sir. I didn’t want my mother to suffer unnecessarily, but at the same time I needed her to understand why I’d made such a drastic decision.”

“Yes, I can understand why you might have considered that changing your identity would solve all your immediate problems, while not appreciating that it could involve you in a series of even more complicated ones,” said Jelks. His next question surprised Harry even more. “Do you recall the contents of that letter?”

“Of course. I wrote and rewrote it so many times I could reproduce it almost verbatim.”

“Then allow me to test your memory,” Jelks said and, without another word, tore off a sheet from his yellow pad and handed it and his fountain pen to Harry.

Harry spent some time recalling the exact words, before he set about rewriting the letter.

My dearest mother,

I have done everything in my power to make sure you receive this letter before anyone can tell you that I died at sea. As the date on this letter shows, I did not perish when the Devonian was sunk on September 4th. In fact, I was plucked out of the sea by a sailor from an American ship and thanks to him, I’m still very much alive. However, an unexpected opportunity arose for me to assume another man’s identity, and I did so willingly, in the hope it would release Emma from the many problems I seem to have unwittingly caused her and her family over the years.

It is important that you realize my love for Emma has in no way diminished; far from it. I cannot believe I shall ever experience such love again. But I do not feel I have the right to expect her to spend the rest of her life clinging on to the vain hope that at some time in the future I might be able to prove that Hugo Barrington is not my father, and that I am, in fact, the son of Arthur Clifton. At least this way, she can consider a future with someone else. I envy that man.

I plan to return to England on the first available ship, so should you receive any communication from a Tom Bradshaw, you can assume it’s me. I’ll be in touch with you the moment I set foot in Bristol, but in the meantime, I must beg you to keep my secret as steadfastly as you kept your own for so many years.

Your loving son,


When Jelks had finished reading the letter, he once again took Harry by surprise. “Did you post the letter yourself, Mr. Clifton,” he asked, “or did you give that responsibility to someone else?”

For the first time Harry felt suspicious, and decided not to mention that he’d asked Dr. Wallace to deliver the letter to his mother when he returned to Bristol in a fortnight’s time. He feared that Jelks might persuade Dr. Wallace to hand over the letter and then his mother would have no way of knowing he was still alive.

“I posted the letter when I came ashore,” he said.

The elderly lawyer took his time before he responded. “Do you have any proof that you are Harry Clifton, and not Thomas Bradshaw?”

“No, sir, I do not,” said Harry without hesitation, painfully aware that no one on board the Kansas Star had any reason to believe he wasn’t Tom Bradshaw, and the only people who could verify his story were on the other side of the ocean, more than three thousand miles away, and it would not be long before they were all informed that Harry Clifton had been buried at sea.

“Then I may be able to assist you, Mr. Clifton. That’s assuming you still wish Miss Emma Barrington to believe you are dead. If you do,” said Jelks, an insincere smile on his face, “I may be able to offer a solution to your problem.”

“A solution?” said Harry, looking hopeful for the first time.

“But only if you felt able to retain the persona of Thomas Bradshaw.”

Harry remained silent.

“The district attorney’s office has accepted that the charge against Bradshaw is at best circumstantial, and the only real evidence they are clinging on to is that he left the country the day after the murder had been committed. Aware of the weakness of their case, they have agreed to drop the charge of murder if you felt able to plead guilty to the lesser charge of desertion while serving in the armed forces.”

“But why would I agree to that?” asked Harry.

“I can think of three good reasons,” replied Jelks. “Firstly, if you don’t, you’re likely to end up spending six years in prison for entering the United States on false pretenses. Secondly, you would retain your anonymity, so the Barrington family would have no reason to believe you are still alive. And thirdly, the Bradshaws are willing to pay you ten thousand dollars if you take their son’s place.”

Harry realized immediately that this would be an opportunity to repay his mother for all the sacrifices she’d made for him over the years. Such a large sum of money would transform her life, making it possible for her to escape the two-up-two-down in Still House Lane, along with the weekly knock on the door from the rent collector. She might even consider giving up her job as a waitress at the Grand Hotel and start living an easier life, although Harry thought that was unlikely. But before he agreed to fall in with Jelks’s plans, he had some questions of his own.

“Why would the Bradshaws be willing to go through with such a deception, when they must now know that their son was killed at sea?”

“Mrs. Bradshaw is desperate to have Thomas’s name cleared. She will never accept that one of her sons might have killed the other.”

“So is that what Tom is accused of—murdering his brother?”

“Yes, but as I said, the evidence is flimsy and circumstantial, and certainly wouldn’t stand up in court, which is why the DA’s office is willing to drop the charge, but only if we agree to plead guilty to the lesser charge of desertion.”

“And how long might my sentence be, if I agreed to that?”

“The DA has agreed to recommend to the judge that you’re sentenced to one year, so with good behavior you could be free in six months; quite an improvement on the six years you can expect if you go on insisting that you’re Harry Clifton.”

“But the moment I walk into the courtroom, someone’s bound to realize that I’m not Bradshaw.”

“Unlikely,” said Jelks. “The Bradshaws hail from Seattle, on the west coast, and although they’re well off, they rarely visit New York. Thomas joined the navy when he was seventeen, and as you know to your cost, he hasn’t set foot in America for the past four years. And if you plead guilty, you’ll only be in the courtroom for twenty minutes.”

“But when I open my mouth, won’t everyone know I’m not an American?”

“That’s why you won’t be opening your mouth, Mr. Clifton.” The urbane lawyer seemed to have an answer for everything. Harry tried another ploy.

“In England, murder trials are always packed with journalists, and the public queue up outside the courtroom from the early hours in the hope of getting a glimpse of the defendant.”

“Mr. Clifton, there are fourteen murder trials currently taking place in New York, including the notorious ‘scissors stabber.’ I doubt if even a cub reporter will be assigned to this case.”

“I need some time to think about it.”

Jelks glanced at his watch. “We’re due in front of Judge Atkins at noon, so you have just over an hour to make up your mind, Mr. Clifton.” He called for a guard to open the cell door. “Should you decide not to avail yourself of my services I wish you luck, because we will not be meeting again,” he added before he left the cell.

Harry sat on the end of the bunk, considering Sefton Jelks’s offer. Although he didn’t doubt that the silver-haired counsel had his own agenda, six months sounded a lot more palatable than six years, and who else could he turn to, other than this seasoned lawyer? Harry wished he could drop into Sir Walter Barrington’s office for a few moments and seek his advice.

*   *   *

An hour later, Harry, dressed in a dark blue suit, cream shirt, starched collar and a striped tie, was handcuffed, marched from his cell to a prison vehicle and driven to the courthouse under armed guard.

“No one must believe you’re capable of murder,” Jelks had pronounced after a tailor had visited Harry’s cell with half a dozen suits, shirts and a selection of ties for him to consider.

“I’m not,” Harry reminded him.

Harry was reunited with Jelks in the corridor. The lawyer gave him that same smile before pushing his way through the swing doors and walking down the center aisle, not stopping until he reached the two vacant seats at counsel’s table.

Once Harry had settled into his place and his handcuffs had been removed, he looked around the almost empty courtroom. Jelks had been right about that. Few members of the public, and certainly no press, seemed interested in the case. For them, it must have been just another domestic murder, where the defendant was likely to be acquitted; no “Cain and Abel” headlines while there was no possibility of the electric chair in court number four.

As the first chime rang out to announce midday, a door opened on the far side of the room and Judge Atkins appeared. He walked slowly across the court, climbed the steps and took his place behind a desk on the raised dais. He then nodded in the direction of the DA, as if he knew exactly what he was about to say.

A young lawyer rose from behind the prosecutor’s desk and explained that the state would be dropping the murder charge, but would be pursuing Thomas Bradshaw on a charge of desertion from the U.S. Navy. The judge nodded, and turned his attention to Mr. Jelks, who rose on cue.

“And on the second charge, of desertion, how does your client plead?”

“Guilty,” said Jelks. “I hope your honor will be lenient with my client on this occasion, as I don’t need to remind you, sir, that this is his first offense, and before this uncharacteristic lapse he had an unblemished record.”

Judge Atkins scowled. “Mr. Jelks,” he said, “some may consider that for an officer to desert his post while serving his country is a crime every bit as heinous as murder. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that until recently such an offense would have resulted in your client facing a firing squad.”

Harry felt sick as he looked up at Jelks, who didn’t take his eyes off the judge.

“With that in mind,” continued Atkins, “I sentence Lieutenant Thomas Bradshaw to six years in jail.” He banged his gavel and said, “Next case,” before Harry had a chance to protest.

“You told me—” began Harry, but Jelks had already turned his back on his former client and was walking away. Harry was about to chase after him, when the two guards grabbed him by the arms, thrust them behind his back and quickly handcuffed the convicted criminal, before marching him across the courtroom toward a door Harry hadn’t noticed before.

He looked back to see Sefton Jelks shaking hands with a middle-aged man who was clearly congratulating him on a job well done. Where had Harry seen that face before? And then he realized—it had to be Tom Bradshaw’s father.

THE SINS OF THE FATHER Copyright © 2012 by Jeffrey Archer.

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The Sins of the Father 4 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 143 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In this second book of the series Harry Clifton does his best to try and prove that Hugo Barrington is not his father so he can marry his precious Emma.Joining the British navy and having his boat sink have dire consequences for Harry's Life. Assuming the identity of one of his dead ship mates seems like a solution at the time but this one decision impacts his life in a way he did not think. Serving time in a prison he is able to begin a new career as a writer under an assumed name. Emma finds him through his new literary adventure and it looks as though life may be improving even with the death of Hugo Barrington. People who love historical fiction and a family saga with rich characters will love this book.Archer's books are like Fritos in that you cannot read just one. Its cliff hanger chapter endings and the twists near the end of this book make you anxious to start the next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with the characters and eagerly awaited the unfolding of the events. Great read, especially if you like historical fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(I had read the fist book in the Clifton Chronicles a while ago in conjunction with a GoodReads giveaway. Recently, I'd begun to wonder how the series continued, so I got the others from the library.) Jeffery Archer has populated this muti-generational multi-book historical saga as one who loves historical fiction. And, as with the first book, Only Time will Tell, this book ends with a virtual "cliffhanger" episode which makes you scramble for the next book. Harry, upon the disaster of his nuptuals to Emma with Old Jack's revelations, jumps onto a ship with the shirt term goal of joining the Royal Navy and leaving Bristol far behind. Circumstances force him switching identities with a now dead co-worker, and upon his debarture from the boat, the man he switched IDs with, who was buried at sea, is arrested, and no one believes Harry when he comes clean about who he is. A convoluted series of events bring him to be the deputy librarian at the prison he is sent to as he begins to see corruption on a grand scale, and just how consequences evolve for good or for bad. Meanwhile, back in Bristol, we see WW2 through the eyes of Maisie, his mother, Giles, Emma and Hugo Barrington, and other characters who pivot around him. And, after Harry, with Emma's help, has made a type of lemonade out of the lemons he's been confronted with, the whole climax of the book again leaves us sitting on the edge, waiting for some sort of resolution.... Well worth reading for historical 20th Century fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had never read Jeffrey Archer before, listened to audiobook of the first- (Only Time will tell) in the Clifton Chronicles series. After reading Sins of the Father, had to get the third, too. The author does tell the story through the eyes of the characters, sometimes repeating events previously covered, but always with a different slant, through the perspective of the various characters. Interesting read! Looking forward to the fourth.
GranT More than 1 year ago
After reading Only Time Will Tell, I couldn't wait for The Sins of the Father! I paid way too much for this book but it was worth every penny! Archer gets you involved with the characters and you find yourself rooting for most while hoping that some get their just rewards! I cannot wait for the third installment as Archer leaves you hanging. Don't miss these enjoyable reads!
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VivisMom More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in the series - great character and story-line development. On to #3!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am hooked!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book as much as the 1st book of this trology. I am having so much fun with this family's story. Can't wait to read the next one. Only complaint: the "Englishness" of the story. Not being familiar with English justice system, I had trouble following the importance and meaning of some of the legal issues in the story.
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I wish the audio version was not so expensive. I read the nook version and just loved it. The first audio version spoiled me. Hearing the spoken accent actually brings you right in. I love the story and bought the next.
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Micah2005 More than 1 year ago
wonderful story couldn't stop reading.
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I have read the first three and am eagerly awaiting #4. (I have read everything Archer has written.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago