Who will Stone Barrington have to deal with first: the terrorists determined to assassinate his old friend, President Katherine Rule Lee, or the disgruntled ex-boyfriend of his latest conquest?
While Katherine Lee is getting sworn in—demoting her husband, Will, from president to first gentleman—and making the rounds of inaugural balls, Stone is anything but idle. He takes delivery of a new Citation M2 jet, seduces delivery pilot Pat Frank and accepts Sen. Everett Salton’s nomination for membership in a New York club so exclusive it doesn’t have a name. It seems only fair that Pat have a suspicious ex, entrepreneur Kevin Keyes, to add a hint of complication to Stone’s generally effortless string of successes. And when someone kills two tenants in a building just deeded to Pat, and fellow pilot Paul Reeves, the drunken buddy Kevin hustles out of a London restaurant as Stone and Pat watch, keeps dogging the new lovers’ airways, the plot seems headed for serious, if predictable, complications. Meanwhile, in the even-numbered chapters, dark clouds are forming over Washington. Stone’s friend and sometime lover Holly Barker, assistant to the president for national security, gets wind of a trio of mysterious no-goodniks she dubs the Three Stooges, and the CIA and FBI, aided and abetted by Holly’s new assistant, Millicent Martindale, promptly get to work identifying them and figuring out what they might be up to. Those are good decisions, because Curly, Larry and Moe are plotting high crimes under diplomatic cover, and someone needs to take them out pronto.
Once again, tossing Stone (Paris Match, 2014, etc.) into international intrigue produces a kind of negative image of James Bond, with a lot less menace, action and suspense, and a lot more bling.