“Looks like you’re in the spy business,” Secretary of State Holly Barker tells Stone Barrington, for the papers he’s just signed extend as well as formalize his work for the CIA.
Since the recent adventures of the New York ex-cop/attorney/playboy/mega-consumer (Contraband, 2019, etc.) have involved more and more consulting work for the Agency, it’s only natural that Director Lance Cabot would seek to cement their relationship by reaching out to Stone at Windward Hall, in the south of England, and offering him an appointment as Deputy Director for Special Operations, or maybe Senior Adviser to the Director. And the plain truth is that the change in Stone’s status couldn’t come at a better time. After accepting British Foreign Minister Sir Oswald Towne’s spur-of-the-moment invitation to join the forces training at MI6’s Station Two in the Scottish Highlands so he can get in shape and then drive Dame Felicity Devonshire’s Aston Martin back to England, Stone’s totaled the car and narrowly escaped death when a sniper shoots out one of its high-priced tires. This little episode hasn’t really gone anywhere, but it has introduced Stone to Lt. Rose McGill, whose medical attentions after the incident he repays carnally, and Station Two commander Col. Roger Fife-Simpson, who’s shortly promoted to Brigadier and made Felicity’s second-in-command at MI6. The Brigadier, it turns out, has a long history of blackmail, and when Stone and Felicity discover what he’s been up to and force him out of the Service, he vows revenge—another timely development, since the Russians who instantly swoop down on him and press him into turning against his old mates would like nothing better than for him to use his remaining, albeit frayed, insider credentials to arrange the assassinations of Felicity and Stone. Since the Brigadier is so well provisioned by his Russian handlers with everything from a new handgun to a new lover, it’s nice that Stone is equally well supported by both MI6 and the CIA.
Just in case you’re worried: Three attempts on the hero’s life leave not a hair out of place.