Stone Barrington takes a break from recent rounds of overscaled intrigue for an old-fashioned whodunit, his first since L.A. Dead (2000).
Although the jet-setting attorney has seen his cousin Richard Stone only once in the past 20 years, this is clearly the week for news of Dick. First, Stone receives a package containing Dick’s new will and a $1,000 retainer as executor of same; the following day, he learns that Dick is dead, shot along with his wife and teenaged daughter in an apparent murder-suicide. Even though the little Maine island where the Stones had been summering was so hard for strangers to reach that the locals think Dick must have killed his own family before turning the gun on himself, Stone’s not convinced. After all, Dick had reason to be happy (he’d just nailed a promotion to Deputy Director of Operations at the CIA) and just as much reason to be wary (he’s disinherited his older brother, and a foreign spy calls too late to warn him of grave danger). Flying his divorcing ex-partner, NYPD Lt. Dino Bacchetti, and his sometime lover, federal agent Holly Barker, up to Islesboro, Stone soon vindicates his late cousin—but not soon enough to prevent a rash of new homicides. The island is so dangerous, in fact, that in no time Holly’s been replaced in Stone’s smiling bed by Arrington Calder, the mother of his six-year-old son, who makes the trip from Virginia after Stone intimates that violent death has turned the island into an open house. In the hands of a lesser writer, some of these plot strands would eventually lead somewhere. Here, they tail off into more murder and a single kidnapping. Bet you can’t guess who’s kidnapped.
Earnest and inept, although at least it lacks the heroic scale of such recent outings as Two Dollar Bill (2005).