Each year, when the mercury rises so high it blows the top off outside thermometers, I know it’s time for a hot, new Stone Barrington book.
Barrington, author Stuart Woods’ alter ego, lives the good life in New York. He’s a former cop who was wounded, went to law school and hung out a shingle from an inherited brownstone that he completely – and beautifully – restored.
His law practice is secondary to his sleuthing skills. Barrington spends most of his time looking for bad guys, sometimes with violent results. When Barrington is on the case, people die.
Barrington’s favorite hangout is Elaine’s restaurant, where his drink is poured and delivered before he sits down at his favorite table.
Women come and go in Barrington’s life. Few stay for more than a couple of books, but some – like ex-wife Dolce – haunt the margins of his life.
In “Lucid Intervals,” the 19th book in the Barrington series, Woods puts his hero in the midst of an international manhunt, complete with beautiful British intelligence agent Felicity Devonshire, who hires Barrington for the job.
While tracking down the elusive Stanley Whitestone, Barrington is forced to walk a thin line, professionally.
In his spare time, Barrington is “of counsel” to a large law firm. When one of the firm’s biggest clients also asks Barrington to find Whitestone, the plot thickens and the ethical lines begin to blur.
For levity, Woods has created a hapless character named Herbie Fisher, an inept lawyer who drops $1 million, literally, in Barrington’s lap one night at dinner.
Fisher’s antics, including an affair with a hooker, the purchase of a penthouse apartment and his brushes with the mob, provide moments of hilarity rarely found in a Woods book. I hope Herbie hangs around for a while.
I don’t pick up a Stuart Woods book thinking I’m going to get great literature. I read Woods to escape into a gilded world of restored brownstones, fine dining, yachts, private aircraft – and pillowtalk – because well, Stone is a bachelor and something of an alley cat.
Some of the story’s twists and turns don’t quite add up, but “Lucid Intervals” is not a bad way to spend a sultry summer evening — or two.
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