Another installment of nonstop, high-stakes, utterly inconsequential action for Stone Barrington (Lucid Intervals, 2010).
It’s tough luck for Jim Hackett, founder and owner of Strategic Services, that he got shot to death while he was in Stone’s company, but making his acquaintance has paid big dividends for Stone. In token of Woodman & Weld’s appreciation for landing Strategic Services’ business, managing partner Bill Eggers presents Stone with a $1 million check and dangles a promise of a full partnership before him. Given Stone’s current lifestyle, however, his settling down with the firm where he’s long been of counsel sounds about as likely as his settling down with just one woman. When his perennial-nuisance client Herbie Fisher summons Stone to his wedding reception to Christine Gunn, it looks as if Stone may be in for a serious romance with Christine’s sister Adele Lansdown, who recently widowed herself by shooting her abusive husband. Alas, after a brief interlude between the sheets, Adele’s shot to death herself. Will Stone, so grief-stricken that he doesn’t have sex for nearly a week, be able to focus on catching her killer? Not unless he turns down an offer to accompany Mike Freeman, Hackett’s successor at Strategic Services, on a clandestine flight to extract non-extraditable arms dealer Erwin Gebhardt, aka Pablo Estancia, for Lance Cabot at the CIA. The mission goes belly-up when Pablo escapes just before the plane lands in the United States, and the sequel promises even better: Pablo takes a train to one of his houses, eats a hearty breakfast and then asks Stone to represent him in his deposition by the CIA. In return for freedom from State Department harassment, Pablo promises some substantial revelations, including the current location of Osama bin Laden. Oh, and Herbie’s marriage is springing leaks as well.
Woods, who evidently writes to a precise word length without bothering with beginnings and endings, delivers loads of juicy complications but no payoffs.