In between rounds of pie-in-the-sky international intrigue, Stone Barrington takes time out to help a San Antonio brewer find a new New York distributor—and inherits all the brewer’s enemies.
Jose Perado just wants to sell his family’s product, Cerveza Perado, in the Big Apple. When Stone rescues him outside a restaurant, he’s getting hassled and worse by a pair of cops, Eugene Ryan and Al Parisi, who turn out to be ex-cops discouraging Perado on behalf of Al’s father, Gino, whose Bowsprit Beverages, the distribution firm he inherited from his mobbed-up father, Perado has just let go. Gino soon supplements Gene and Al with some proper muscle, Frank Russo and Charlie Carney, who follow Stone and his latest conquest, sex-addicted advertising art director Caroline Woodhouse, to Stone’s island retreat in Maine and back, growing more impatient all the while. Since international terrorism never really takes a day off, Stone’s soon playing host to Maj. Ian Rattle, an MI6 officer marked for assassination by the Middle East no-goodniks who can’t accept the fact that the door has closed on Hot Pursuit (2015). When somebody takes a shot at Rattle, Stone’s old friend Dino Bacchetti, the NYPD Commissioner, suggests that maybe Stone was the intended target, and the two plot a retaliatory strike that sends the bad guys packing. Pursuing different dreams, Gene, Frank, and Charlie all end up in Florida, where they hatch nefarious new schemes, make new enemies of their own, and wait for the page count to reach the end.
The stakes seem so low throughout this installment, filled with dead ends and dropped stitches, that you can’t help wondering if Woods has set his word processor to auto-type.