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by Stuart Woods

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-14868-X
Publisher: Putnam

Hours after his latest lover dumps him, that paragon of lawyer/adventurers Stone Barrington (Cold Paradise, 2001, etc.) is en route to London for a round of intrigue that does indeed seem to go on forever.

Stone’s charge is simple: to rescue John Bartholomew’s niece, Erica Burroughs, from the clutches of drug mule Lance Cabot and get Cabot arrested for something or other before Stone returns to the US with Erica. But the job is complicated by the fact that John Bartholomew doesn’t exist and Erica Burroughs (who’s soon fixed Stone up with her eligible sister Monica) doesn’t have an uncle. Even murkier waters open when the sisters take Stone to a house party at the home of painter Sarah Buckminster, another of his inexhaustible supply of ex-lovers, and he’s on hand to see Sarah’s fiancé, wine trader James Cutler, fall to his death from her yacht. Or did Sarah, overenthusiastic at Stone’s return, really arrange his demise? Just when you think the story’s settled into a mystery mold, Woods changes course again, like a kindergartner with a short attention span, and drops Stone into the middle of the mutual recriminations of Bartholomew and Cabot, each of whom insists the other is a ruthless criminal spy (and there’s evidence they both may be right). To the smorgasbord of plotlines already on display—Bring Home the Lady, Did She or Didn’t She, and Who Do You Trust—Woods eventually adds a fourth when Cabot inveigles Stone into a fast-money scheme to smuggle an unnamed McGuffin out of its closely guarded industrial home and into the hands of international provocateurs. Seasoned fans will know better than to take the spy stuff any more seriously than the rest of this potluck supper.

Woods notes in closing that his editor requested no changes in his manuscript, since nothing needed fixing. Readers may well come up with other explanations.