No Comebacks – Frederick Forsyth

Frederick Forsyth is one of my favourite authors. And No Comebacks, a collection of short stories, is one of his best works. Jeffrey Archer, another favourite of mine too writes great shorts. But I would choose No Comebacks over any short story collection by Archer.

No Comebacks, is the first of the ten stories and is about a rich man who falls head over heels in love with a married woman. Unable to let her go, he arranges an assassination of her husband. And things go horribly wrong.

There Are No Snakes In Ireland is about an Indian medical student in Ireland who is bullied by the foreman at a construction site where he is trying to earn his tuition. Things go too far and the student decides to take his revenge.

The Emperor is a feel good story, one about how a henpecked husband discovers his passion for fishing during a long duel with the emperor.

There are Some Days…. is a gem. It is about a highway robbery gone wrong. With a serious twist in the end.

Money With Menaces is about a working man who commits one little indiscretion and ends up getting blackmailed. A great story, this.

Used In Evidence is about an old man who might have committed a murder, or might not have.

Privilege tells the story of small business man who is heavily slandered by a reporter. He finds that although he has legal options available to clear his name, he might end up bankrupting himself in the process.

Duty is somewhat different from the other stories in the collection, as the author himself points out. Although a simple story, you will find plenty of things to chuckle over.

A Careful Man is a gem, again. It details how a wealthy man who knows he is suffering from terminal cancer keeps his wealth away from both Inland Revenue as well as his relatives.

Sharp Practise is the story of a card game on a train – a judge, a priest and another man being the three parties involved. And it ends with a twist.

I have read this book many times over the years and it manages to impress me every time.

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  • Emma  On February 1, 2008 at 10:48 pm


    This my sound like a very random question – but I was wondering if you could tell me what the last couple of lines say on the page where Burns finds out Ram Lal is Hindu? It’s on page 43 on my version (Arrow paperback).

    The lines I am missing start out with:

    “You’ll need lunch,” said Burns, “aye, and breakfast. We’ll be making tay ourselves on a fire.”

    “I will make sure………”

    It’s the end of that line by Ram Lal that I am missing, and I really need to know what it says for school purposes.

    If you could help, it would be greatly appreciated!

    My copy is a Corgi edition and the lines you mention happen to be on page 45.
    The line you are interested in is – ‘I will make sure to buy a box and bring some food tomorrow,’ said Ram Lal.

  • Bill Purkayastha  On March 14, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I’d like to point out that Ram Lal is a Bihari, not a Punjabi name; and that the Mr Chatterjee from whom he buys the snake can’t possibly be a Gujarati. Chatterjee is a Bengali name, but Forsythe obviously didn’t do any research for this story. Nor does any Indian refer to Rajasthan as “Rajputana” – and no Indian I know of (and I’m one) ever talks the way Ram Lal talks. I find this story seriously irritating.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On March 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm

      I guess Forsyth was a bit careless on this one. Ram Lal’s full name is Harkishan Ram Lal, and Chatterjee is an “old Bengali merchant” on one page and an “old Gujerati” on the next.

      Minor irritants, but a great tale of vengeance.

  • Anonymous  On August 19, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Punjabi, Gujerati, who gives a damn? All the same..

  • Joe Ayala  On May 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Hello.. . I have the Spenish version of the book
    There is NOT a story about a man who loves married Woman. It must be a later edition.-

    The Emperor (Murgatroyd)
    No Serpents in ireland (excellent, Shakti)
    Dias Nefastos (Rough Days)
    Proof (a question: finally FF leaves a loose cape…. was the second woman buried under the hen room??)
    Duty -> Triumph Mayflower
    Careful man (Great plot!!!)
    The Cheater (the train story)

    • Aristotle The Geek  On May 19, 2012 at 4:06 am

      The English version’s title, “no comebacks,” comes from that fantastic story. I do see a couple of spanish translations online (“El emperador y otros relatos”). Perhaps two or three stories have been left untranslated, all of them are must reads:
      * No Comebacks
      * Money With Menaces
      and perhaps
      * Privilege (though I do find a book that has “Privilegio” as one of its stories)

      As for the hen house, yes, there is a second body there. That’s why he was so relieved.

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