Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Iron Orchid (Holly Barker Series #4)

Iron Orchid (Holly Barker Series #4)

3.9 26
by Stuart Woods

See All Formats & Editions

When his plane exploded off the coast of Maine, authorities thought they had seen the last of Teddy Fay—the ex-CIA tech wizard who kills his political targets for sport. But now they’ve found irrefutable evidence that he is alive and up to his old tricks. Now working for the CIA, ex-chief-of-police Holly Barker joins the elite task force tracking Fay in


When his plane exploded off the coast of Maine, authorities thought they had seen the last of Teddy Fay—the ex-CIA tech wizard who kills his political targets for sport. But now they’ve found irrefutable evidence that he is alive and up to his old tricks. Now working for the CIA, ex-chief-of-police Holly Barker joins the elite task force tracking Fay in New York City. As he begins to pick off America’s enemies one by one, Holly unexpectedly finds herself face-to-face with the killer, kick-starting a high-speed chase through the canyons of midtown Manhattan, the Metropolitan Opera house, Central Park, and the United Nations Plaza, all to prevent another assassination before Fay disappears again—maybe this time for good.

Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
Iron Orchid reads easily and is mildly suspenseful, but it's often silly and cartoonish; the best thing about it is that Woods doesn't seem to take it very seriously.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Having ditched her Orchid Beach, Fla., police chief post, returning supersleuth Holly Barker opts for a CIA career in Woods's by-the-numbers thriller, the fourth in the Barker series (Blood Orchid). Barely through basic training at a highly regimented CIA "training farm," Barker's class is suddenly enlisted to track down calculating killer (and opera buff) Teddy Fay (first seen in Woods's Capital Crimes). An ex-CIA agent himself, Fay uses insider information to continue assassinating international political figures who also happen to be enemies of the U.S. Barker stakes out the Metropolitan Opera House, and narrowly misses Teddy in disguise in several contrived set pieces. The narrative accelerates from a somewhat sluggish first half when CIA operatives' solid deliberation moves Barker ever closer to nabbing the elusive Fay who, by the way, lives mere blocks away from her. But Fay dupes the CIA again, with the help of a Santa Claus costume, and assassinates a Saudi prince before vanishing. Woods's latest lacks the urgent plotting and bracing thrills needed to make it truly memorable, and though Barker is a tough, formidable protagonist, the question remains why she, after absconding with over $5.5 million in untraceable drug money, bothers to clock in at all. Only Barker's dog, Daisy the Doberman, knows for sure. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Orchid Beach cop Holly Barker has joined the CIA, and she's after Teddy Fay, who was once CIA himself but now wipes out various political figures for fun. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Now that she's exhausted the criminal permutations of Orchid Beach (Fla.) and Stone Barrington's New York City (Reckless Abandon, 2004), police chief Holly Barker enlists in Woods's third franchise: fighting President Will Lee's nemesis, a political assassin who's crazy like a fox. Teddy Fay is on the loose again. Run to earth by government agents wise to his scheme to execute right-wing politicians (Capital Crimes, 2003), he's faked his death, gone to earth in the Big Apple and set up shop with a new mission: killing his nation's enemies. Holly, who's quit her Orchid Beach gig to join the CIA, has her hands full fooling the Agency's polygraph experts about the $5.76 million she just stashed in the Caymans and standing up to a fight instructor who implies that she's a lesbian. She finds out about Teddy only after he blows up Iranian terrorist Ali Hakim and her trainee group is improbably dismissed from class several weeks early and packed off to New York. There follows a series of cat-and-cat encounters in which Teddy, in heavy disguise, keeps accosting Holly, who keeps recognizing him moments after it's too late to catch him. Holly gets her ashes hauled once by Stone, and Teddy several times by Irene Foster, his inside source in the CIA, while they're waiting for the next Middle East assassin or spy to meet his quietus. The real drama here, however, is the complete absence of anything like narrative development. Woods has borrowed from Walt Disney a form of mutually reinforcing franchise advertising whereby the only thing that happens in each installment is a series of plugs for all the others. The non-conclusion hints broadly that Holly and Teddy could go on chasing each other forever.A sitcom approach to international intrigue in which paper dolls from Woods's previous work keep slipping into new outfits as insubstantial as they are.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Holly Barker Series , #4
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.29(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


HOLLY BARKER TOOK AIM and squeezed off a round. Her father, Senior Master Sergeant, U.S. Army (ret.), Hamilton Barker, looked through his hand scope.

“High and to the right,” he said.

“How high and how far to the right of what?” Holly asked in disbelief.

“An inch high and to the right of dead center,” Ham replied. “That’s not good enough. Push with your right hand, pull with your left.”

“That’s what I’ve been doing since I was eight, when you first taught it to me,” Holly said. She took aim and, this time, made a point of pushing and pulling.

“That’s better,” Ham said.

“How much better?”

“A quarter of an inch off dead center,” he said.

“Oh, please,” Holly said, laughing.

“How did the Orchid Beach town council take your resignation as chief of police?” Ham asked.

“They were appropriately sad, except for a couple who looked relieved. At least they accepted my recommendation of Hurd Wallace to replace me. They’re getting a good man.”

“They’re losing a better woman. What are you going to do with your house?”

“One of my young policewomen is going to move into the guesthouse and be my caretaker. I’ll need the house to decompress once in a while. Also to remind me of Jackson.” Jackson Oxenhandler, Holly’s fiancé, had been killed in a bank robbery two years before, an innocent bystander.

Ham went to his range bag and came back with a mahogany box.

“What’s that?”

“Something for you to take with you on the new job.” He handed her the box and a small key.

Holly set down the box, inserted the key and unlocked it. “Oooh,” she said, gazing at the shiny stainless slide with her name engraved on it. “Nice Colt .45.”

“It’s not a Colt, and it’s not a .45,” Ham said. “It’s a nine-millimeter made of Caspian parts. The lightweight frame was designed by Terry Tussey, and the grip holds a round shorter than standard, but it will conceal nicely. Only weighs twenty-one ounces. I thought it might come in handy.”

Holly picked up the small gun and hefted it. “Nice,” she said.

Ham handed her a loaded magazine. “See if you can hit anything with it.”

The target was still set at twenty-five feet. Holly set herself, pushed and pulled and squeezed off the round.

“Half an inch off dead center,” Ham said. “Not bad, considering it’s a three-inch barrel, instead of four.”

“Sweet trigger,” Holly said. “Four, four and a half pounds?”

“Four, exactly. Try it with both eyes open, and use up the magazine, rapid fire.”

Holly obliged.

“That target no longer has a center,” Ham said, a touch of pride in his voice. He went back to his range bag and came back with some gun leather. “Mitch Rosen made you a shoulder rig, a belt and a holster for it,” he said.

“It’s beautiful work,” she said, caressing the mahogany leather. “Thank you, Ham.” She put her arms around him and hugged.

Ham, uncharacteristically, hugged her back, but then he looked a little embarrassed. “What time did you file for?”

“Ten,” Holly said. “My stuff’s in the car.”

“You’ll have to clear out at Fort Pierce for the Bahamas,” Ham said.

“I know, Ham.”

“I don’t know why you want to go to the Bahamas alone for a weekend,” he said.

“I just want to take Daisy and spend the weekend alone; I have a lot to think about.”

“Whatever you say.”

“I’ll be back on Monday, maybe Sunday night, depending on the weather.”


She packed up her things, put her new gun into her range bag and went to the car. She gave Ham a wave and drove off.

AT FOUR O’CLOCK that afternoon, Holly landed the rented Cessna at Roberts International Airport in Grand Cayman, having flown first to the Bahamas, checked into a hotel, filed a new flight plan and left Daisy in a prearranged kennel. She dropped off her bag with the doorman at her Georgetown hotel, then kept the cab for the trip to the bank. Refusing the driver’s help, she hefted the two nylon duffels from the trunk of the cab and carried them inside.

A Mr. Dellinger—English, well-tailored and very discreet looking—was waiting for her. He nodded for a guard to take the bags, and the man went into a side room while Dellinger showed her into his office.

“How do you do?” Dellinger said, offering his hand.

“I’m very pleased to meet you,” Holly replied.

“The money will be machine counted in there,” Dellinger said. “It will take a little while; why don’t we get the paperwork done?”

“All right.” She sat down at his desk.

He handed her a sheet of paper. “It’s a very simple form,” he said. “You may use any name you like, and you needn’t put down an address, since we will not be mailing you account statements.”

Holly put down “H. Barker” for a name. “I’d like two credit cards in the same name,” she said. “They may be used by two different people, and I brought a sample signature of the other person.” She gave him a photocopy of Ham’s signature. It was illegible to anyone but her. She signed “H. Barker” for her own card.

The guard came back and handed Dellinger a slip of paper.

“Five million, seven hundred and sixty thousand dollars,” Dellinger said. “Does that sound right?”

“It sounds exactly right.”

“Let me tell you a few things about our service,” Dellinger said, “and I hope you won’t take offense at what may seem to be our assumptions. We give all our clients this information without regard to the amount deposited or the source of the funds.”

“I won’t be offended,” Holly said.

“First of all, because of the way we disperse cash around the world, these funds will immediately become untraceable. In the unlikely event that the United States or any other country should invade our island and take over our bank, they will not find a name on your account, only a number, which will not be in any way traceable to you. The number will not be coded in any way that would reveal even the nationality of the customer.

“The only thing traceable to you would be the credit card charges. When you view your credit card statement, you’ll be given the option of erasing the names of the payees—hotels, restaurants or shops, for instance. Only the amounts and dates of the charges would then appear on your statement, which you may access by entering your account number and a password, which you will designate. You may use as many as three passwords, each from four to twelve letters or digits or a combination of both.”

“That sounds good.”

“It is very important that you never forget the passwords, because if you do, you will not be able to access your account statements. In order to change the passwords, you would have to come personally here, to the bank.”

Holly signed one card and put them both into her pocket.

“The paper I gave you also has instructions for going to your account online,” Dellinger said. “Will there be anything else?”

“No, I think that does it,” Holly said. She shook his hand and left the bank. Now the drug money she had stolen from the hundreds of millions confiscated in a huge raid was safe from anyone but her, and no one would ever be able to prove that she had it. At least, she hoped not.

She spent the night in Georgetown, then, the following morning, flew back to the Bahamas. She spent two days there, shopping, eating and walking on the beach with Daisy, and on Monday morning she flew home to Orchid Beach.

Meet the Author

Stuart Woods is the author of more than sixty novels. He is a native of Georgia and began his writing career in the advertising industry. Chiefs, his debut in 1981, won the Edgar Award. An avid sailor and pilot, Woods lives in Florida, Maine, and New Mexico.

Brief Biography

Key West, Florida; Mt. Desert, Maine; New York, New York
Date of Birth:
January 9, 1938
Place of Birth:
Manchester, Georgia
B.A., University of Georgia, 1959

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Iron Orchid (Holly Barker Series #4) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love all of Stuart Woods' books, both Stone Barrington and the Holly Barker series. This was a great story with a great chase. But it was like the author couldn't wrap up the story, he just left the reader hanging which seems so unfair and a waste of a story. Give us a good ending next time!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Teddy Fay Worked for the CIA for forty years, eventually becoming a Tech Services coordinator and when he retired, he erased all his files in the Agency¿s computers. They have no pictures or fingerprints of the man who disappeared with astonishing ease. He started killing Right Wing politician including the Speaker of the House and when he was close to being caught, he blew up the plane he was flying and jumped out into the ocean. P While the FBI and CIA think he is dead, Teddy relocates to New York when he starts killing terrorists, the enemies of America as he calls them. A joint FBI-CIA task force is formed and one of the CIA members is Holly Barker, the former Chief of Police in Orchid Beach, Florida. They recruited her and she eagerly grabbed the chance to become an operative. She is the only agent to see Holly and she is in the forefront of the investigation as Teddy tries to avoid the agents while continuing on his mission. P The antagonist is the focus and the star of IRON ORCHID as he calmly hacks into CIA and FBI computers with the help of an inside source. Readers will be simultaneously drawn to and repelled by this character who marches to his own drummer. The protagonist takes to her CIA training like a duck to water and is able to carry her share of the work load on her uses first case as an agent. Stuart Woods has written a compelling and entertaining cat and mouse caper. P Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I stopped reading Woods when every book became a repeat dinner scene at Elaine's with Dino. The early books had so much more substance, and better plot development. I picked this one up hoping the Holly Barker storyline would keep improving, but it went straight downhill - and everyone still ended up at Elaine's at one point. Shallow characters, convenient plot set-ups, and a terrible ending make for yet another disappointment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got the feeling this was written to meet a publisher's deadline. Woods has written some really good novels (especially early in his career), this was not one of them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the series very much, until ¿Iron Orchid¿ were Holly is no longer a small town sheriff. But has graduated to the a federal agency. And has now official became a thief of a lot of money that she acquired in a previous book, and has decided to keep it for herself. And becoming just as corrupt as the agency she now works for. The agency seems to be just as crooked as the murder they are supposedly trying to catch. And to let the murder and his accomplice get away to enjoy retirement and the rest of there lives on an island somewhere, is in my mind unthinkable! Even though the book agrees with this generation that there is no absolutes there is still Good & Bad, Right & Wrong, and everything that has been portrayed in this book goes against everything a moral person believes in. I still look for ¿they lived happily ever after¿ and ¿good triumphing over evil¿. That¿s why I read fiction! Former reader!