Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Honour Among Thieves - Book Review

Author: Jeffrey Archer
First Published: 1993

Set in the year 1993; two years after the Gulf war, Saddam Hussain is looking for a way to exact his vengeance on the United States. He decides to humiliate the United States in a way that they would not think probable and which would tarnish the country’s image in front of the entire world.
To do so he plans to get the American Declaration of Independence stolen and burn it in the streets of Iraq in front of the public on the 4th of July. To achieve this task, the Deputy Ambassador of Iraq in the United Nations hires the Cavalli family, who run a mafia organization under the pretence of running a law firm. In the mean time, Hannah Kopec, a Mossac agent is involved in the plot to assassinate Saddam Hussain driven by her own personal vendetta. The American Declaration of Independence is stolen and it is upto Scott Bradley, a law professor in Yale University to retrieve the document. This gets Scott Bradley’s path to cross with Hannah and eventually into the thrilling story of getting the document back from the grip of the toughest monarch in the world.

Honour Among Thieves is definitely a thrilling novel. Though a work of fiction, the organizational structures of the secret service agencies like Mossad and CIA have been explained quite elaborately. Certain episodes in the story like the stealing of the American Declaration of Independence from the United States by Antonio Cavalli and the protagonist’s escape from Iraq with the American Declaration of Independence is much gripping. At the end of the book, the story takes a drastic turn, which will be quite appealing to many of its readers.

Though written as a thrilling novel full of conspiracies, it seems that the descriptions of events in this book are more with the intent of writing the screenplay of a movie. As the book tries to grip you to its story at many places it goes too wide unnecessarily, which is not at sync with the main storyline. The character of Scott Bradley takes up the role of a CIA agent from that of a Yale law professor is not as impressive as that of Robert Langdon in ‘The Da Vinci Code’ or ‘Angels and Demons’. Though written on the same lines as that of Robert Langdon getting involved in a mystery, at times it makes the reader wonder as to why was it absolutely necessary for a Yale professor to be deployed into this mission.

The attempt made by Jeffrey Archer to describe the iron country of Iraq during Saddam’s regime is in a very limited scope as per the demand of the story. Though not bad, but you will not think of the description at par with novels like 'The Kite Runner', where Khaled Hosseini has done a brilliant job in explaining Afghanistan both before and during the Taliban rule. However, with its story line, explanation of characters, organisations and chain of events the story does not disappoint you.


  1. You write ", the Deputy Ambassador of Israel in the United Nations hires the Cavalli family, who run a mafia organization under the pretence of running a law firm"

    This doesn't make sense: why should Israel help Sadam Hussein steal the Declaration?

    Anyway, I liked the thorough review and the comparisons to other books.

    1. Hi Joab. Thanks for your comment. Have made the correction.