CHOKE by Stuart Woods


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A middle-aged tennis pro who blew his chance at Wimbledon glory 20 years ago gets involved with a cardboard cast trying to cut each other out of the Key West landscape. At least that's how it's supposed to play out, though Woods (Imperfect Strangers, Jan. 1995, etc.) tends to forget choking Chuck Chandler once his murder plot gets in gear. When he first signs on at the Olde Island Tennis Club, though, Chuck is riding high as senior pro, teaching authority, and recipient of gorgeous Clare Carras's extramarital favors. Since Chuck doesn't know about three-timing Clare's liaison with still another man, it's not until after he finds the body of Clare's much older husband Harry--rich, retired, and innocent of any credit listing--under broadly prejudicial circumstances that Chuck realizes Clare's been setting him up. Luckily for him, Det. Tommy Sculley, a new Key West cop with plenty of NYPD experience, realizes it too. So Tommy, along with pimply partner Daryl Haynes, goes up against his disapproving chief to dig up evidence that'll get poor Chuck off the hook. Item: the murder of a California p.i. on the trail of Harry and some big money. Item: Harry's checkered past as LA mob lawyer Rocco Marinello and as Ralph (Rock) Maria. Item: Clare's even more sordid past as a Vegas madam with an unexpected connection to a totally different suspect. Item: the other suspect's history of indiscriminate philandering. As the noose tightens, and you're wondering what's happened to Chuck, you may start to notice that minus the bikinied babes, the frequent recreational sex, and the female treachery, Woods's guileless mystery and wide-eyed hero make him sound an awful lot like a male Mary Higgins Clark. A fleet, mindless tale that doesn't include a thing, from the slightest unexpected plot twist to the ghost of an original idea, that might slow you down to its nominal hero's speed.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1995
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperCollins