As if to prove that the relative success of Stone Barrington’s most recent thriller (A Delicate Touch, 2018) was a fluke, Woods drags back the surviving baddies for a limp sequel that proves mainly that enough is enough.
The case against Rance Damien, horribly scarred but not killed by the fire that resulted when Stone’s techie, Bob Cantor, blew up the control center of the nefarious H. Thomas & Sons Bank, has fallen apart because all the incriminating records of Damien and bank patriarch Henry Thomas’ malfeasance were destroyed in the blaze. So Damien’s out of jail and intent on getting revenge against Stone. It’s a fool’s errand, as any one of the dozens of criminal masterminds who’ve tried to kill the cop-turned-lawyer-turned–conspicuous consumer could have warned him, because the professional killers hired to eliminate him will always miss whatever they aim at, often killing someone else instead and leaving their target “peacefully in the knowledge that neither of the two men shot in the ass was himself.” The stakes are raised, though the tension isn’t increased an iota, when Thomas and Damien decide to back the presidential campaign of Florida Republican Sen. Joseph Box, whose likely opponent is Secretary of State Holly Barker, one of Stone’s bevy of ex-lovers. Overnight Box begins to talk like less of a blooming idiot thanks to the ministrations of Harvard-trained speechwriter Ari Kramer. As if he’s not smarting enough already, Damien soon learns that Thomas’ secretary Elise Grant, getting wind of her bosses’ murderous schemes, defects to Stone, whose current inamorata, New York Times reporter Jamie Cox, publishes a blistering takedown of H. Thomas & Sons just as they’re about to be acquired by an equally conscience-free hedge fund. Will this be the time that Stone and his team finally go too far? Of course it won’t.
Despite more complications than a 12-month pregnancy, there’s less suspense here than in a three-minute egg.