New York attorney Stone Barrington (Unbound, 2018, etc.) moves deeper into James Bond territory in his increasingly unsuspenseful attempts to keep his latest paramour’s cutting-edge technology from falling into the wrong hands.
Years before she sold her startup, Harmony Software, to a business group including insurance mogul Arthur Steele and then met and slept with Stone during an outing in Key West that included a board meeting of the Steele Group, Meg Harmon had a torrid affair with Gino Bellini. The two became partners; Bellini developed the software for an unusually resourceful self-driving car; Meg, her ardor cooled, edged him out of the company with a $150 million payout. When a sniper interrupts Stone and Meg’s round of golf at Key West by shooting someone in the next foursome, Meg thinks the disgruntled Gino just might be behind it. She’s right, of course: Gino and his conniving wife, Veronica, have hired an equally malevolent pair of killers, Dirty Joe Cross and his girlfriend, Jungle Jane Jillian, to exact condign revenge. In the hands of another writer, the threats from such well-heeled villains would be bound to create suspense. But this is Stoneland, where no one you care about is ever in enough danger to distract Stone from his primary mission: wandering the planet purchasing everything that isn’t nailed down (the list this time includes a Key West house, club membership, slip, and boat, in that order). Not even the news that Stone can’t force Gino to relinquish the Harmony Software designs he’s stolen because he’s already sold them to an international arms dealer turns up the heat: Stone just turns his sights from private malefactors to the dealer in illegal arms and the sinister political regimes behind him. Starved for anything more consequential to do, Stone enjoys even more sex than usual, watched several times through a hidden camera by someone who intends to shoot Meg and maybe him as well. The only people who get killed are the killers, and Meg’s kidnapping ends almost before it’s begun.
Sleep tight, children: There’s nothing here to spoil your dreams.