Rhonda Johnson
June 14, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Fourth Estate

Current Status
In Season
Jeffrey Archer
Mystery and Thriller, Fiction

We gave it a B+

Jeffrey Archer, a master at mixing power, politics, and profit into fiction, turns to the tabloid headlines for this story about dueling media moguls. Richard Armstrong, a flamboyant British publishing magnate, bears no small resemblance to the late Robert Maxwell (in fact, Maxwell’s youngest son recently tried to halt publication of this novel); Australian press baron Keith Townsend is a ringer for Rupert Murdoch. Most readers will remember their race to dominate the New York City tabloid market ending with Maxwell’s deep-sea drowning, an early revelation in the story that hardly dampens the suspense. It really doesn’t matter much that The Fourth Estate‘s prose merely plods or that neither character exists much beyond his sharklike pursuit of business coups. Archer turns raw male ambition into fast and furious fun. B+

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