Dirty Work (Stone Barrington Series #9)

Dirty Work (Stone Barrington Series #9)

3.6 37
by Stuart Woods
     
 

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Hired to prove infidelity in an heiress's marriage, Stone Barrington goes undercover. But the work turns dirty-and catastrophic-when the errant husband is found dead and the other woman disappears without a trace. Now, Stone must clear his own good name and find a killer hiding among the glitterati of New York's high society. Enter Carpenter-the beautiful British… See more details below

Overview

Hired to prove infidelity in an heiress's marriage, Stone Barrington goes undercover. But the work turns dirty-and catastrophic-when the errant husband is found dead and the other woman disappears without a trace. Now, Stone must clear his own good name and find a killer hiding among the glitterati of New York's high society. Enter Carpenter-the beautiful British intelligence agent first encountered in The Short Forever-who has arrived in New York to begin an investigation of her own. Stone suspects that her case is strangely connected to the dead husband. And he and Dino, his former NYPD partner, are set to face the most bizarre and challenging assignment of their very colorful careers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Woods's new mystery is as sleek and engaging as the upper-class lifestyle of its appealing hero, ex-cop-cum-lawyer-cum-private investigator Stone Barrington. Woods (Blood Orchid) rewards Stone (and readers) by bringing back the beautiful British intelligence agent, code-named Carpenter, who first appeared in The Short Forever, the preceding book in this series. But Carpenter brings Stone more than hot sex and clever dinner conversation-she inadvertently draws him into her life-and-death struggle with one of the world's most efficient and intelligent female assassins, La Biche. While on assignment for lawyer Stone, attempting to photograph an adulterous husband in flagrante delicto, a clumsy assistant gets into trouble and falls into the hands of the NYPD and British Intelligence. Stone's pal and ex-partner from his early days on the NYPD, detective Dino Bacchetti, aids in extricating the assistant, but the incriminating photographs soon involve both men in the hunt for La Biche, who is out to kill Carpenter and avenge an old wrong. Friend and foe alike feed outright lies to Stone and Dino as the chameleonic lady assassin piles body upon body. Woods writes in a dry, witty style that keeps all his characters on a likable keel. The amusing repartee between Stone and Dino is memorably funny. In the end, Stone supplies a surprising dose of morality, and the reader finds that there is more to the story than flesh, flash and derring-do. Author tour. (Apr.) FYI: Woods recently signed a new contract with Putnam to supply two more in this series as well as several other unspecified books over the next two years. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In Woods's latest novel, cop-turned-lawyer Stone Barrington is tapped by a wealthy client to get incriminating photographs of her cheating husband. Stone reluctantly accepts, but things really heat up when the husband winds up dead, a victim of his mysterious mistress. Beautiful British intelligence agent Carpenter, a prominent character, arrives on the scene and supplies the identity of the killer-an international assassin and master of disguise named Marie-Therese DuBois, better known as "La Biche." La Biche is out to kill those agents who were instrumental in the death of her parents, and Carpenter is next on the list. The plot is often implausible but moves at a fast pace, and the dialog is usually sharp and funny. Some listeners may find Robert Lawrence's cartoonish portrayals of the secondary characters irritating, but this work is entertaining, and the author's fans will be interested. Recommended for adult popular fiction collections.-Phillip Oliver, Univ. of North Alabama Lib., Florence Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A routine stint of bedroom peeping sets jet-set New York lawyer Stone Barrington against an international assassin with more disguises than a barrel of cross-dressing monkeys. A clause Stone inserted into Lawrence Fortescue's prenuptial agreement with Elena Marks will cost him any claim on her assets or income if he's caught in flagrante, so when Elena gets wind of her bridegroom's latest assignation, she wants film at 11. Because Stone doesn't do such distasteful jobs himself, he hires photographer Herbie Fisher to get the evidence, then has to take care of Herbie when he phones from the local precinct after the skylight he was leaning on collapses, sending him hurtling down atop Larry's dead body. The real story here, however, isn't Herbie or even Larry, but Larry's companion, who fatally poisoned him (why?) just before Herbie dropped in and then took a powder herself. As Felicity Devonshire, the British agent Stone got to know as Carpenter in The Short Forever (2002), points out the morning after her bedroom exercise with Stone, the subject of Herbie's art hasn't been photographed since she was 12-eight years before British Intelligence killed her parents in a botched operation and she swore revenge. Now Marie-Thérèse du Bois (to give her the real name she uses only in the coffee breaks between chameleon changes of identity) has already murdered three of Carpenter's colleagues, and, as subsequent events demonstrate, she's only warming up. As in The Short Forever, but much more successfully, Woods keeps changing gears from one plotline to the next-Get the Pictures, Find the Woman, Broker the Meeting, Contain the Damage-so that, although no breath of reality ever disturbs the air ofdeluxe action, the tale puts both Stone and the reader through some exhilarating paces. A crisp, fleet timekiller: the fashionplate lawyer's best outing since Dead in the Water (1997).

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101209844
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/07/2003
Series:
Stone Barrington Series , #9
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
10,495
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

1

ELAINE'S, LATE.

A big night-a couple of directors, a couple of movie stars, half a dozen writers, an assortment of journalists, editors, publicists, cops, wise guys, drunks, hangers-on, women of substance, and some of considerably less substance. And this was just at the tables; the bar was a whole other thing.

Stone Barrington pushed his plate away and sat back. Gianni, the waiter, snatched it away.

"Was it all right?" Gianni asked.

"You see anything left?" Stone asked.

Gianni grinned and took the plate to the kitchen.

Elaine came over and sat down. "So?" she said. She did not light a cigarette. To Stone's continuing astonishment, she had quit, cold turkey.

"Not much," Stone replied.

"That's what you always say," Elaine said.

"I'm not kidding, not much is happening."

The front door of the restaurant opened, and Bill Eggers came in.

"Now something's happening," Elaine said. "Eggers never comes in here unless he's looking for you, and he never looks for you unless there's trouble."

"You wrong the man," Stone said, waving Eggers over to the table, but he knew she was right. For ordinary work, Bill phoned; for more pressing tasks, he hunted down Stone and usually found him at Elaine's.

"Good evening, Elaine, Stone," Eggers said. "Your cell phone is off."

"It didn't work, did it?" Stone replied.

"I gotta be someplace," Elaine said, getting up and walking away. She got as far as the next table.

"Drink?" Stone asked.

Michael, the headwaiter, materialized beside them.

"Johnnie Walker Black, rocks," Eggers said.

"I have a feeling I'm going to need a Wild Turkey," Stone said to Michael.

Michael vanished.

"How's it going?" Eggers asked.

"You tell me," Stone said.

Eggers shrugged.

"If I had to guess," Stone said, "I'd say, not so hot."

"Oh, it's not so bad," Eggers replied.

"Then what drags you away from home and hearth, into this den of iniquity?"

"You remember that big Irish ex-cop, used to do little chores for you from time to time?"

"Teddy? He dropped dead in P. J. Clarke's three months ago."

"From what?"

"How many things can an Irishman in an Irish bar drop dead of?" Stone asked, rhetorically.

"Yeah," Eggers admitted.

"And why would I need somebody like Teddy?" Stone asked.

"You remember telling me about that thing Teddy used to do with the water pistol?" Eggers asked.

"You mean, after he kicked down a door and had his camera ready, how he squirted his naked subjects down low, so they'd grab at themselves and leave their faces open to be photographed in bed with each other?"

Eggers chuckled. "That's the one. I admire that kind of ingenuity."

The drinks came, and they both sipped for a long, contemplative moment.

"So, you're in need of that kind of ingenuity?" Stone asked at last.

"You remember that prenup I tossed you last year?" Eggers asked. Bill Eggers was the managing partner of Woodman & Weld, the very prestigious New York law firm to which Stone was of counsel, which meant he sometimes did the work that Woodman & Weld did not wish to appear to be doing.

"Elena Marks?" Stone asked.

"The very one."

"I remember." Elena Marks was heiress to a department store fortune, and she had married a member in high standing of the No Visible Means of Support Club.

"You remember that funny little clause you wrote into her prenup?"

"You mean the one about how if Larry got caught with his pants around his ankles in the company of a lady other than Elena, he would forfeit any claim to her assets or income?" Lawrence Fortescue was English-handsome, well educated, and possessed of every social grace, which meant he didn't have a receptacle in which to relieve himself.

"The very one," Eggers said.

"Has Larry been a bad boy?" Stone asked.

"Has been, is, and will continue to be," Eggers replied, sipping his Scotch.

"I see," Stone said.

"Now that Teddy has gone to his reward, who do you use for that sort of thing?"

"It's been quite a while since that sort of thing was required of me," Stone replied edgily.

"Don't take that tone with me, young man," Eggers said, raising himself erect in mock dudgeon. "It's work, and somebody has to do it."

Stone sighed. "I suppose I could find somebody."

Eggers looked at him sharply. "You're not thinking of doing this yourself, are you? I mean, there are heights involved here, and you're not as young as you used to be."

"I am not thinking of doing it myself, but I'm certainly in good enough shape to," Stone said. "What kind of heights are we talking about?"

"The roof of a six-story town house, shooting through a conveniently located skylight."

"There is no such thing as a conveniently located skylight, if you're the one doing the climbing," Stone said.

"You'd need someone...spry," Eggers said, "and the term hardly applies to the cops and ex-cops you mingle with."

At that moment, as if to make Eggers's point, Stone's former partner from his NYPD days, Dino Bacchetti, walked through the front door and headed for Stone's table.

"If you see what I mean," Eggers said.

Stone held up a hand, stopping Dino in his tracks, then a finger, turning him toward the bar.

"I get your point," Stone said. "I'll see who I can come up with."

"You don't have a lot of time," Eggers said. "It's at nine o'clock tomorrow night."

"What's at nine o'clock tomorrow night?"

"The assignation. Larry Fortescue has an appointment with a masseuse who, I understand, routinely massages more than his neck muscles. Elena would like some very clear photographs of that service being performed."

"Let me see what I can do," Stone said.

Eggers tossed off the remainder of his Scotch and placed a folded sheet of paper on the table. "I knew you would grasp the nettle," he said, standing up. "The address of the building is on the paper. I'll need the prints and negatives by noon the day after tomorrow."

"What's the rush?"

"Elena Marks is accustomed to instant gratification."

"But not from Larry?"

"You are quick, Stone. Nighty-night." He slapped Dino on the back as he passed the bar on his way to the door.

Dino came over, licking Scotch off his hand, where Eggers had spilled it. He flopped into a chair. "So what was that about?" he asked, pointing his chin at Eggers's disappearing back.

"Dirty work," Stone said.

—from Dirty Work: A Stone Barrington Novel by Stuart Woods, Copyright © 2003 Stuart Woods, Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of the Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission by the publisher.

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