SANTE FE RULES by Stuart Woods


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Woods (New York Dead, 1991, etc.) may hail from Sante Fe, but he doesn't do his hometown much honor with this slack mystery/homage. Even Sante Fe's gorgeous desert setting fades against the blinding silliness of Woods's plotting here. A nifty premise sets up the story:. Middle-aged film producer Wolf Willett, stranded at the Grand Canyon, opens a New York Times to read that his gorgeous young wife, Julia, his best pal, and...himself! have been shot dead at his Sante Fe home. But rather than run with that kick-off by having Wolf stay officially dead and investigate the murders incognito, Woods has his hero fly on to LA.--and finish work on his latest movie. A week or so later, Wolf returns to Sante Fe and, anticipating legal trouble, hires legendary defense lawyer Ed Eagle-a 6'7"" tower of chutzpa who's the only character here who rises above clichÉ Under Ed's expensive guidance, Wolf manages temporarily to stave off arrest for triple-murder by the suspicious local cops, who finally? figure, out that the body misidentified Wolf once shook hands with Madonna, offers help that proves invaluable after someone puts out a contract on Wolf--someone who looks a lot like Barbara/Julia.... All this cockeyed mayhem sorts out in the end, of course, as Woods winds up with this happy sentence starring Wolf's pet pooch: ""Flaps lifted her head and grinned at everybody""--a fitting conclusion to this shaggy-dog story of a novel, a shockingly poor showing from an author who's sometimes (e.g., Chiefs; Under the Lake) terrific.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperCollins