Now that Stone Barrington, on a Florida trip, has helped nail the guy who killed Holly Barker’s fiancé (Orchid Blues, 2001), Orchid Beach police chief Holly comes to the Big Apple to involve him in her hunt for a mobbed-up fugitive from her brand of justice.
Even though he’s a killer many times over, second-generation criminal Trini Rodriguez (Blood Orchid, 2002) can’t be brought to book because he’s an FBI informant who’s repeatedly called on to testify against higher-ups presumably even worse than him. (It’s typical of Woods’s disinclination to sweat the small stuff that neither these higher-ups nor Trini’s relation to them is ever spelled out; Holly has just learned to take it for granted that every time she’s about to come down on him, the feds will whisk him off into protective custody first.) Now that she’s burned her former friend, Miami Agent in Charge Harry Crisp, currently cooling his heels in American Samoa, Holly’s ready to go after Trini big-time. But the hunt for this heinous felon—requiring a chase to Santa Fe, the intervention of Stone’s ex-father-in-law Eduardo Bianchi, and the interference of feckless photographer Herbie Fisher (Dirty Work, 2003)—is as uninvolving as the cookie-cutter killer himself. The real action here is Holly’s far more successful pursuit of Stone, who puts his acquaintance and her Doberman up in his guest room at a moment’s notice and then immediately sets out to prove his former partner Lt. Dino Bachetti’s maxim: “Wherever you go, people drop dead, and women take off their underwear.”
A skeletal thriller, evidently written on the back of a series of cocktail napkins, that’s most notable, like Woods’s other recent novels, as a pretext for bringing his stable of stock heroes and villains into different permutations with nary a new idea in sight.