L. A. Dead (Stone Barrington Series #6)

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Overview

Cop-turned-lawyer-and-investigator Stone Barrington ventures out to the west coast-and out on a limb-in this "stylish whodunit" (Detroit News) filled with romance and murder from the bestselling author of The Run and Worst Fears Realized.

Stone's trip to Venice-with a fiery Mafia princess-is cut short by a frantic phone call from half a world away. A celebrity murder has Los Angeles in an uproar and has a former flame pining for Stone's help-in...

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L. A. Dead (Stone Barrington Series #6)

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Overview

Cop-turned-lawyer-and-investigator Stone Barrington ventures out to the west coast-and out on a limb-in this "stylish whodunit" (Detroit News) filled with romance and murder from the bestselling author of The Run and Worst Fears Realized.

Stone's trip to Venice-with a fiery Mafia princess-is cut short by a frantic phone call from half a world away. A celebrity murder has Los Angeles in an uproar and has a former flame pining for Stone's help-in more ways than one...

With his former NYPD partner, Dino Bacchetti, at his side, Stone plumbs the depths of Hollywood society, and dredges up enough dirt to end the careers of some and send others to prison. The novel climaxes in a court trial that will either condemn or set free an old love, with the hounds of the tabloid press baying at the courthouse doors.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Our Review
So, is Arrington Calder really a murderer? While we don't know the answer to that question until much later in the new Stuart Woods novel, L.A. Dead, we soon learn that Stone Barrington has never quite gotten over his infatuation with the gorgeous Arrington. And trying to prove her innocent is not exactly making lawyer Barrington's life any easier -- especially considering that he's soon to get married to another woman.

Once again Woods gives us some engaging peeks at Los Angeles film society that are over the top but still a lot of fun. You know, people born with silver spoons in their noses. The name of his hero, Stone Barrington, sort of sets the tone. He might well be a relative of John Forsythe of the Dynasty era. A Gucci tough-guy.

There is mystery. There are suspects. There are scenes of violence. There are scenes of love. There is dialogue. There is narrative. The pages are numbered.

What redeems it all from the routine is Woods's mastery of storytelling. The guy is a master. A true one. You just can't stop reading the damned thing. Has he written better novels? Sure. Is this worth the $24.95? Yes. Because it delivers just what a Stone Barrington novel promises to deliver -- sexy, quick-read fun rendered with sleek, sure skill.

As a beach book, I'd give it a B+. But I hope you forgive me for missing the Stuart Woods of Chiefs, Under the Lake, and L.A. Times.

Maybe next time.

--Ed Gorman

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This latest installment in Woods's Stone Barrington thriller series finds the lawyer/sleuth from New York back in Los Angeles on a murder case in which everyone, even the accused, lazes along, enjoying life in sunny Southern California. In his sixth outing (following 1999's Worst Fears Realized), Barrington is surrounded by his usual cast of friends, acquaintances and casual sex partners. The biggest change here is that his ex-lover, Arrington Calder, stands accused of murdering her husband, movie star and renowned man-about-town Vance Calder, found dead of a gunshot wound in the couple's Bel Air mansion. Upon hearing the news, Barrington, in Italy for his imminent wedding to the lovely but unpredictable Dolce Bianchi, rushes to L.A. to take over Arrington's defense. Not much of substance happens next; there's plenty of rambunctious sex, lots of light banter, a few tiffs and a minimal bit of sleuthing. Barrington checks out who left the size-12 shoe imprint near the murder scene and does his best to avoid Dolce, who took exception to her fianc 's sudden departure from the nuptials and is now stalking him. The whole case ends abruptly and with little suspense, and everyone goes along his or her merry way. Woods's desultory plotting--it is never made entirely clear who really killed Vance Calder--and chatty dialogue may not suit hardcore thriller or mystery readers, but Barrington's fans will likely welcome the detective's newest California-chic adventure. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Just when you thought his romantic problems had been resolved for good (Worst Fears Realized), Stone Barrington is snatched from the brink of holy matrimony by still another well-timed homicide.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451204110
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Series: Stone Barrington Series , #6
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 122,727
  • Product dimensions: 4.38 (w) x 7.54 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Stuart Woods

Stuart Woods is the author of fifty novels, including the New York Times-bestselling Stone Barrington and Holly Barker series. 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 New York City, Florida, and Maine.

Biography

Stuart Woods was born in 1938 in Manchester, Georgia. After graduating from college and enlisting in the Air National Guard, he moved to New York, where he worked in advertising for the better part of the 1960s. He spent three years in London working for various ad agencies, then moved to Ireland in 1973 to begin his writing career in earnest.

However, despite his best intentions, Woods got sidetracked in Ireland. He was nearly 100 pages into a novel when he discovered the seductive pleasures of sailing. "Everything went to hell," he quips on his web site "All I did was sail." He bought a boat, learned everything he could about celestial navigation, and competed in the Observer Singlehanded Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) in 1976, finishing respectably in the middle of the fleet. (Later, he took part in the infamous Fastnet Race of 1979, a yachting competition that ended tragically when a huge storm claimed the lives of 15 sailors and 4 observers. Woods and his crew emerged unharmed.)

Returning to the U.S., Woods wrote two nonfiction books: an account of his transatlantic sailing adventures (Blue Water, Green Skipper) and a travel guide he claims to have written on a whim. But the book that jump-started his career was the opus interruptus begun in Ireland. An absorbing multigenerational mystery set in a small southern town, Chiefs was published in 1981, went on to win an Edgar Award, and was subsequently turned into a television miniseries starring Charlton Heston.

An amazingly prolific author, Woods has gone on to pen dozens of compelling thrillers, juggling stand-alone novels with installments in four successful series. (His most popular protagonists are New York cop-turned-attorney Stone Barrington, introduced in 1991's New York Dead, and plucky Florida police chief Holly Barker, who debuted in 1998's Orchid Beach.) His pleasing mix of high-octane action, likable characters, and sly, subversive humor has made him a hit with readers -- who have returned the favor by propelling his books to the top of the bestseller lists.

Good To Know

Some fascinating facts about Stuart Woods:

His first job was in advertising at BBDO in New York, and his first assignment was to write ads for CBS-TV shows. He recalls: "They consisted of a drawing of the star and one line of exactly 127 characters, including spaces, and I had to write to that length. It taught me to be concise."

He flies his own airplane, a single-engine turboprop called a Jetprop, and tours the country every year in it, including book tours.

He's a partner in a 1929 motor yacht called Belle and spends two or three weeks a year aboard her.

In 1961-62, Woods spent 10 months in Germany with the National Guard at the height of the Berlin Wall Crisis.

In October and November of 1979, he skippered a friend's yacht back across the Atlantic, with a crew of six, calling at the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands and finishing at Antigua in the Caribbean.

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

Read an Excerpt

One

ELAINE’S, LATE. STONE BARRINGTON AND DINO BACCHETTI sat at table number four, looking grim. Elaine joined them.
“So, what’s happening here? You two look like you’re going to start shooting any minute.”
“I’m getting married,” Stone said. “Congratulate me.”
“Congratulations,” Elaine said. “Anybody you know?”
“Hilarious,” Stone said.
“It would be, if it weren’t so insane,” Dino added.
“You and Dolce are really going to do this?” Elaine asked, incredulous.
“Now don’t you start,” Stone growled.
“He won’t listen to me,” Dino said. “I’ve been telling him for a year to stay away from her.”
“What’ve you got against your sister-in-law?” Elaine asked him.
“First of all, she’s my sister-in-law,” Dino replied. “Second, she’s evil. Her old man is the devil, and Dolce is his handmaiden.”
“Don’t start that again, Dino,” Stone said. “I don’t want to hear it anymore. We’re in love, we’re getting married, and that’s it. What’s wrong with that?”
Elaine shrugged. “You’re still in love with Arrington,” she said. “Everybody knows that.”
“What do you mean, ‘everybody’?” Stone demanded.
“Me and Dino,” Elaine replied.
“Right,” Dino chimed in.
“She’s married; she has a child,” Stone said.
“So?” Elaine queried. “So, she’s married to a movie star; nobody ever took a girl away from a movie star? Happens all the time.”
“I’m not breaking up anybody’s marriage,” Stone said, “and Arrington knows it. I’ve told her so. Anyway, there’s the boy.”
“Wouldn’t be the first kid raised by a stepfather,” Elaine said.
“I think it’s Stone’s kid, anyway,” Dino said.
“Dino, I told you, the blood test was done; I saw the lab report. The boy is Vance Calder’s, and that’s all there is to it. I’m not taking a kid away from his father. Besides, I like Vance.”
“What’s not to like?” Elaine asked. “He’s handsome; he’s the biggest star in Hollywood; he’s the most charming man I ever met.” She sipped her drink. “Present company included,” she added.
“Thanks,” Stone said. “I needed that.”
“So, when’s the happy day?” Elaine asked. “You going to be a June bride?”
“Monday,” Stone replied. “In Venice.”
“This is Thursday,” Elaine pointed out. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“We’re leaving tonight,” Stone said.
“I got news for you. It’s after midnight, all the flights have departed.”
“We’re taking a private jet, belongs to some friend of Eduardo.”
“Not bad,” Elaine said, looking impressed. “That way, you get to your hotel late enough tomorrow, so you don’t have to wait for the people in your room to check out.”
“Eduardo has a palazzo,” Dino said. “We’re being forced to stay there.”
“You’re going, too?” Elaine asked, incredulous again.
“He’s my best man,” Stone said glumly.
“If I don’t go, my wife will divorce me,” Dino said.
“She’s Italian,” Elaine pointed out. “She won’t divorce you.”
“The Bianchi family has found a way around that,” Dino said. “Remember how Dolce got divorced?”
“I didn’t know she was married,” Elaine said.
“A youthful indiscretion. She married a capo in the Bonnano family when she was nineteen. It lasted less than three weeks, until she caught him in her bed with her maid of honor.”
“So she got a divorce?”
“Not for some years. When it was inconvenient for her to still be married, the guy turned up in New York dead. Took two in the back of the head, a classic hit.”
“Let me get this straight,” Elaine said, turning toward Stone. “The girl you’re marrying on Monday in Venice had her ex popped?”
“Of course not,” Stone said hotly. “That’s Dino’s theory. In the guy’s line of work, it was an occupational hazard. Anybody could have had it done.”
“Yeah, sure,” Dino said. “Funny, it didn’t get done until Dolce decided to throw a bag over Stone’s head and lead him to the altar.”
Stone glanced at his watch. “Dolce and Mary Ann are going to be here any minute. I want you to decide what you’re going to do, Dino; are you going to stand up for me, or not? And if you are, I don’t want to hear another word about Eduardo and his connections. You married into the family, too, remember?”
“Yeah, with a bun in the oven and a gun to my head. If I hadn’t married her, I’d be at the bottom of Sheepshead Bay right now, with a concrete block up my ass.”
“You love that girl, Dino,” Elaine said, “and the boy, too. You know goddamned well you do.”
Dino looked into his drink and said nothing.
“Make up your mind, Dino,” Stone said. He looked up to see Dolce and Mary Ann walk into the restaurant. “They’re here.” He stood up to greet them.
“All right, all right,” Dino said. “I guess I can’t let you go over there by yourself.”
Stone kissed the gorgeous Dolce. She was wearing a cashmere track suit and a huge smile.
“Everybody ready?” she asked. “The car’s at the curb, all the bags are in the trunk.”
“Everybody’s ready,” Stone said, shooting a warning glance at Dino.
Elaine stood up and kissed everybody. “Mazel tov,” she said. “Send me a postcard.”
“Come with us,” Stone said. “There’s room.”
“And who’d mind the store?” she asked.
“You’ve got plenty of help here.”
“They’d steal me blind. Go on, get going; send me a postcard from Venice.”
“You bet,” Stone said, hugging her.
The foursome left the restaurant. At the curb a spectacular car was waiting.
“What is this?” Stone asked, running a finger along the glossy paintwork.
“It’s a Mercedes Maybach,” Dolce replied. “The first one in the country. Papa knows somebody in Stuttgart.”
“Papa knows somebody everywhere,” Dino muttered, collecting a sharp elbow in the ribs from Mary Ann.
They piled into the spacious rear seats, facing each other, Pullman style.
“Not bad,” Dino admitted, looking around. “I don’t suppose there’s a phone? I’ve gotta check in with the cop shop.” Dino ran the detective squad at the nineteenth precinct.
“Oh, leave it, Dino,” Stone said. “They can get along without you for a week.”
Dolce handed Dino a phone, and he began dialing. “Did you pack all my stuff?” Dino asked Mary Ann.
“Everything’s in the trunk,” she replied. “I ironed your boxer shorts, too.” She winked at Dolce. “They love it when you iron their underwear.”
“I’ll remember that,” Dolce laughed.
“Gladys,” Dino said into the phone, “I’m off. You’ve got the number in Venice if anything really important comes up, otherwise I don’t want to know, got that? Good. Take care.” He hung up. “Okay, I’m cut loose,” he said to the others. “What kind of jet we going in, Dolce? I hate those little ones; this better be a G-Four or better.”
“Wait and see,” Dolce said smugly.

They drove onto the tarmac at Atlantic Aviation at Teterboro Airport, across the Hudson in New Jersey, and up to an airplane that dwarfed everything on the ramp.
“Holy shit!” Dino said as they got out of the limousine. “What the fuck is this?”
“It’s a BBJ,” Dolce replied, grabbing her jewelry box and cosmetics case from the backseat. The others took their hand luggage from the trunk.
“Sounds like a sandwich.”
“A Boeing Business Jet, the biggest thing in the corporate skies.”
Hank Esposito, who ran Atlantic Aviation, was at the airplane’s stair door to greet them. “You’re fueled for maximum range,” he said. “You could make it to Tokyo, if you wanted.”
“Not a bad idea,” Dino said, boarding the airplane.
“Dino . . .” Stone warned.
Esposito helped the chauffeur stow the luggage into a forward area of the interior.
The party stepped into a cabin that looked like the living room of a New York City town house.
Stone was flabbergasted. “Where’s the fireplace and the grand piano?” he asked.
An Armani-clad stewardess took their hand luggage and showed them through the airplane. Besides the big cabin, there was a conference room and, behind that, two sleeping cabins, each with its own bathroom.
Dino shook his head. “The wages of sin,” he said under his breath, avoiding Stone’s glance.
As if from a great distance, there was the sound of jet engines revving, and almost imperceptibly, the big airplane began to move.

Two

SOMEWHERE OVER THE ATLANTIC, STONE STIRRED IN his sleep and turned over, bringing his chest against Dolce’s naked back. He reached over her and cupped a breast in his hand, resting his cheek on the back of her neck. With thumb and forefinger, he lightly caressed the nipple.
At that moment, a chime sounded and the soft voice of the stewardess spoke. “Ms. Bianchi, we’re two hours from our destination. If you and your party would like breakfast, it will be ready in half an hour.”
“I think we’re going to be late for breakfast,” Stone breathed into Dolce’s ear.
She turned over, put her feet on the floor, and stood up. “No, we’re not,” she said.
“You mean you’re spurning your intended?”
“I mean I’ve decided to be a virgin until we’re married.”
“Isn’t it a little late for that?”
“I can start over whenever I like,” she said, “and I’ve just started over.”
Shortly, they joined Dino and Mary Ann at the breakfast table. Scrambled eggs and smoked Italian bacon were set before them.
“That was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had on an airplane,” Dino admitted.
“We didn’t sleep all that much,” Mary Ann rejoined, poking him in the ribs.
Stone indicated the large moving map at the front of the cabin. “We’re just crossing the Portuguese coast,” he said. “Nice tailwind; we’re doing over six hundred miles an hour.”
The moving map dissolved, and CNN International appeared on the screen.
“Turn that off,” Dolce said to the stewardess. “I don’t need news for a while.
The stewardess pressed a button, and Vivaldi came softly over hidden speakers. “Better?” she asked.
“Perfect,” Dolce said. She turned to Stone and the others. “I have a little announcement,” she said.
“Shoot,” Stone replied.
“Papa is giving us the Manhattan town house for a wedding present.”
Stone stopped eating. His fiancée was referring to a double-width brick-and-granite mansion in the East Sixties that Eduardo Bianchi had built. He took Dolce’s hand. “I’m sorry, my dear, but I can’t accept that. It’s very generous of Eduardo, but I already have a house, and we’ll be living there.”
“Don’t I have any say in where we live?” Dolce asked.
“You’ve never asked me very much about my background,” Stone said, “so it’s time I told you about my family.”
“I know all about that,” Dolce replied.
“Only what you read in the report Eduardo had done on me. It doesn’t tell you everything.”
“So, tell me everything,” she said.
“My parents were both from wealthy textile manufacturing families in western Massachusetts, the Stones and the Barringtons; they knew each other from childhood. Neither of them liked the plans their families had made for them. When the crash came in ’twenty-nine, both families were hit hard, and both had lost their businesses and most of their fortunes by the early thirties.
“My parents used this upheaval as an opportunity to get out from under their parents’ thumbs. My mother left Mount Holyoke, where she was studying art, and my father left Yale, where he was meant to study law, although the only thing he had ever wanted to do was carpentry and woodworking; they married and moved to New York City. My father’s family disowned him, because he had joined the Communist party; my mother’s family disowned her, because she had married my father.
“They found themselves very broke and living in a Greenwich Village garret. My mother was doing charcoal drawings of tourists in Washington Square for fifty cents a shot, and my father was carrying his toolbox door to door, doing whatever handyman’s work he could find, for whatever people would pay him. He was about to go off and join the Civilian Conservation Corps, just to stay alive, when a wonderful thing happened.
“My mother’s aunt—her mother’s sister—and her new husband bought a house in Turtle Bay, and my aunt hired my father to build her husband a library. That job saved their lives, and when it was done, Aunt Mildred and her husband were so pleased with it that they also commissioned my father to design furniture for the house and my mother to paint pictures for some of the rooms. When their friends saw the house, they immediately began offering him other commissions, and before too many years had passed, both my parents had won reputations for their work. I didn’t come along for quite a long time, but by the time that accident had occurred, they could afford me.”
Dolce started to speak, but Stone stilled her with a raised hand.
“There’s more. Many years later, when Aunt Mildred died, having been preceded by her husband, she left the house to me. I was still a cop then, working with your brother-in-law, and I poured what savings I had into renovating the house, doing a great deal of the work myself, using skills learned in my father’s shop. Finally, after leaving the NYPD—by popular request—I was able to earn a good enough living as a lawyer to finish the house. So, you see, the house is not only a part of my family history, it is all I have left of my parents and the work they devoted their lives to. I have no intention of moving out of it, ever. I hope you understand, Dolce.”
Nobody moved. Stone and Dolce stared expressionlessly at each other for a very long moment. Then Dolce smiled and kissed him. “I understand,” she said, “and I won’t bring it up again. I’ll be proud to live in your house.”
“I’ll be happy to explain things to Eduardo,” Stone said.
“That won’t be necessary,” Dolce replied. “I’ll explain it to him, and, I promise, he’ll understand completely.”
“Thank you, my dear,” Stone said.
“So,” Mary Ann said, changing the subject, “what’s the plan for Venice?”
“We’ll go directly from the airport to Papa’s house,” Dolce said. “We’ll have dinner with him tonight; tomorrow, Saturday, the civil ceremony will be held at the town hall, where we’ll be married by the mayor of Venice. Then, on Monday morning, a friend of Papa’s from the Vatican, a cardinal, will marry us at St. Mark’s, on the square of the same name. After that, Stone and I will go on a honeymoon, the itinerary of which I’ve kept secret even from him, and the rest of you can go to hell.”
“Sounds good,” Mary Ann said.
“Who’s the cardinal?” Dino asked.
“Bellini,” Dolce replied.
“Doesn’t he run the Vatican bank?”
“Yes, he does.”
“How like Eduardo,” Dino said, “to have his daughter married by a priest, a prince of the Church, and an international banker, all wrapped up in one.”
“Why two ceremonies?” Stone asked.
Mary Ann spoke up. “To nail you, coming and going,” she said, laughing, “so you can never be free of her. The two marriages are codependent; the civil ceremony won’t be official until the religious ceremony has taken place, and the priest—pardon me, the cardinal—has signed the marriage certificate.”
“It’s the Italian equivalent of a royal wedding,” Dino said. “It’s done these days only for the very important, and, as we all know, Eduardo . . .” He trailed off when he caught Stone’s look.
“Eat your eggs, Dino,” Mary Ann sighed.

Three

THE GLEAMING MAHOGANY MOTOR LAUNCH, THE Venetian equivalent of a limousine, glided up the Grand Canal in the bright, spring sunshine. Stone looked about him, trying to keep his mouth from dropping open. It was his first visit to the city. The four of them sat in a leather banquette at the stern of the boat, keeping quiet. Nothing they could say could burnish the glories of Venice.
The boat slowed and turned into a smaller canal, and shortly, came to a stop before a flight of stone steps, worn from centuries of footsteps. Two men dressed as gondoliers held the craft still with long boat hooks and helped the women ashore. As they reached the stone jetty, a pair of double doors ahead of them swung open, as if by magic, and Eduardo Bianchi came toward them, his arms outstretched, a smile on his handsome face. He embraced his daughters, shook hands fairly warmly with his son-in-law, then turned to Stone and placed both hands on his shoulders. “And my new son,” he said, embracing him.
“Very nearly,” Stone said. “It’s good to see you, Eduardo, and it’s very kind of you to arrange all this for us. Dolce and I are very grateful.”
“Come into the house,” Eduardo said, walking them toward the open doors. “You must be exhausted after your flight.”
“Not really; it’s hard to know how we could have been made more comfortable in the air,” Stone said. “Once again, our gratitude.”
Eduardo shrugged. “A friend insisted,” he said. “Your luggage will be taken to your rooms. Would you like to freshen up, girls?”
The girls, dismissed, followed a maid down a hallway.
“Come into the garden,” Eduardo said. “We will have lunch in a little while, but in the meantime, would you like some refreshment?”
“Perhaps some iced tea,” Stone said. Dino remained silent. Eduardo ushered them through French doors into a large, enclosed courtyard, which had been beautifully planted, and showed them to comfortable chairs. Unbidden, a servant appeared with pitchers of iced drinks, and they were served.
“First of all, I must clear the air,” Eduardo said. “I quite understand that you may be very attached to your own house; I would not impose mine on you.”
Stone was once again astonished at Eduardo’s apparently extrasensory intuition. “Thank you, Eduardo. It was a magnificent offer, but you are quite right—I am very attached to my own house. It is much caught up with my family’s history in New York. Fortunately, Dolce has consented to live there.”
“She is a smart girl,” Eduardo said, smiling slightly. “I would have been disappointed in her, if she had begun her marriage by attempting to move her husband from a home he loves.”
“I expect she will find my taste in interior decoration inadequate, and I have steeled myself for the upheaval.”
“You are smart, too,” Eduardo said. He turned to his son-in-law. “Dino, how goes it among New York’s finest?”
“Still the finest,” Dino replied.
“Are you arresting many innocent Italian-American businessmen these days?” Eduardo asked impishly.
“There aren’t many left,” Dino said. “We’ve already rehoused most of them upstate.”
Eduardo turned back to Stone. “Dino disapproves of my family’s former colleagues,” he said. “But he is an honest policeman, and there are not many of those. Many of his other colleagues have also been ‘rehoused upstate,’ as he so gracefully puts it. Dino has my respect, even if he will not accept my affection.”
“Eduardo,” Dino said, spreading his hands, “when I have retired, I will be yours to corrupt.”
Eduardo laughed aloud, something Stone had never heard him do. “Dino will always be incorruptible,” Eduardo said. “But I still have hopes of his friendship.” Eduardo glanced toward the French doors and stood up.
Stone and Dino stood with him. A tall, thin man with wavy salt-and-pepper hair was approaching. He wore a black blazer with gold buttons, gray silk trousers, and a striped shirt, open at the neck, where an ascot had been tied.
“Carmen,” Eduardo said, “may I present my son-in-law, Dino Bacchetti.”
To Stone’s astonishment, Dino bowed his head and kissed the heavy ring on the man’s right hand.
“And this is my son-in-law-to-be, Stone Barrington.”
The man extended his hand, and Stone shook it. “Your Eminence,” he said, “how do you do?”
“Quite well, thank you, Stone.” Bellini held onto Stone’s hand and stared into his face. “He has good eyes, Eduardo,” he said to Bianchi.
Stone was surprised that the cardinal spoke with an American accent.
“My son,” Bellini said to Stone, “it is my understanding that you are not a Roman Catholic.”
“I am a believer, Your Eminence,” Stone said, “but not a registered one.”
Bellini laughed and waved them to their seats. He accepted a fruit juice from the servant, then reached into an inside pocket and took out a thick, white envelope sealed with red wax, and handed it to Eduardo. “Here is the necessary dispensation,” he said. “The Holy Father sends his greetings and his blessing.”
“Thank you, Carmen,” Eduardo said, accepting the envelope.
If Stone understood this transaction correctly, he now had papal approval to marry Dolce. He was embarrassed that the necessity had never occurred to him. “Your Eminence, I am surprised that your accent is American. Did you attend university there?”
“Yes, and preparatory school and elementary school before that. I was born and raised in Brooklyn. Eduardo and I used to steal fruit together, before the Jesuits got hold of me.” He said something to Eduardo in what seemed to Stone flawless Italian, raising a chuckle. He turned back to Stone. “I understand that you are engaged in the practice of law.”
“That’s correct.”
“If I may torture the scriptures a little, it is probably easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a lawyer to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
“I tread as narrow a path as my feet will follow,” Stone replied.
Bellini smiled. “I should hate to oppose this young man in court,” he said to Eduardo.
“Are you a lawyer, as well?” Stone asked.
“I was trained as such at Harvard,” Bellini replied, “and my work requires me still to employ those skills from time to time—after which I immediately visit my confessor. I should hate to die with the practice of law on my soul.”
“I understand you also dabble in banking.”
“Yes, but there is nothing so pure as money, used properly. I am required to ask you, Stone, if you have ever been married.”
“No, Your Eminence; I’ve come close, but I’ve never been in serious trouble.”
“And do you willingly consent to your wife’s devout practice of her religion?”
“Willingly, Your Eminence. To deny Dolce anything could be dangerous to my health.”
Bellini seemed to try not to laugh, but Dino couldn’t help himself.
The women arrived, and they all moved to a table set in the center of the garden, where they feasted on antipasti, a pasta with lobster sauce, and a glittering white wine, served from frosted pitchers. During most of lunch, Eduardo and the cardinal conversed seriously in Italian.
When they got up from the table, Stone sidled over to Dino. “What were Eduardo and Bellini talking about at lunch?” he asked.
“Not you, pal,” Dino said. “They were doing business.” He glanced at his father-in-law to be sure he would not be overheard. “Eduardo still doesn’t know how much Italian I understand.”

Stone and Dolce took a walk together through the narrow streets of Venice, becoming hopelessly lost. They did a little window shopping and talked happily. Stone tried to find out where they were honeymooning, but Dolce would reveal nothing.
They returned to the palazzo in the late afternoon, ready for a nap. Stone was shown to a suite—sitting room and bedroom—that overlooked the Grand Canal. He dozed off to the sounds of motorboats and of water lapping against stone.
He dreamed something that disturbed him, but when he awoke, he couldn’t remember what it was. He joined the others for cocktails with a strange sense of foreboding.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 55 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 55 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2003

    Stuart Woods -- another hit!!!

    Stuart Woods was a new author to me and again I am hooked. The character of Stone Barrington is terrific. Stone begins his career as a policeman but becomes a New York State lawyer. Clients draw him into one breathless mystery after another. The twists and turns keeps the reader turning page after page. His partner on the force, Dino, appears as his constant sidekick and reminder to stay inside the law when solving cases. Some clients appear in a second book but don't let that stop you from reading. Each book is a completed case filled with murder, intrigue, sex and excitement. The following is the list of how the Stone Barrington books were released: New York Dead: Dirt, Dead In The Water, Swimming On Catalina, Worst Fears Realized, LA Dead, Cold Paradise, The Short Forever and Dirty Work. Be sure and search out the other books written by Stuart Wood and his other stars of fiction.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2001

    Poor Story Line

    I have read many of Mr. Woods' books and this has to be the worst. He lacks any type of closure of the story. His sex scenes and partners are not only highly improbable but extremely in poor taste. I like sex like any other guy, but let's get real.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2001

    A lame Stone Barrington outing

    Stone Barrington used to be a great character, but no more. He has been turned into some kind of cartoon character ... super sleuth, super stud, superman. It's silly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable Barirngton tale

    Former NYPD homicide detective turned attorney Stone Barrington travels to Italy to marry his fiancée Dolce Bianci. Her father happens to be a rich and powerful capo with ties to both sides of the law as well as to the Vatican. In Italy, for Roman Catholics to be considered married they must have civil and church weddings. <P>The civil ceremony occurs, but before they tie the knot in church, Stone receives a phone call concerning Arrington, the woman he loves, who is married to famous movie star Vince Calder. In their home an unknown intruder killed Vince while Arrington was taking a bath. Arrington is placed in a psychiatric hospital demanding that Stone come to help her. Stone immediately leaves Italy to be at Arrington's side. He also agrees to represent her with the police and the probate court. Arrington cooperates with the police, but they arrest her on a charge of second-degree murder. Stone goes out of his way to protect the woman he still loves. <P>The sixth Barrington mystery is the best novel in the series. Stone is an honest, intelligent, but beleaguered individual, who goes the extra mile and a half for those he cherishes. As Stone muddles through his relationships with females, the climax to L.A. Dead remains outstanding even as many questions about the hero's personal life remain unanswered. With an exclamation point, Stuart Woods makes it evident that he is a force in the mystery genre. <P>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2014

    Poisonivy bio

    Name: Poisonivy<p>Gender: &female<p>Age: 28 moons<p>Appearance: Green long-haired she-cat with patches of black and yellow eyes.<p>History: see res 7<p>Style of Attack: As<_>sassination and tooth-and-claw.<p>Other: prettiest cat of the Deadly Six.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2013

    Damien

    Walks in

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Amber

    Srry no wifi at home.... :( but im here now! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    Highly recommend

    As usual, Stone Barrington is something to behold. He manages to take control of situations that are involved and always come up with the answer. My husband and I read his books and we enjoy them. He holds your attention to the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    I love stone

    Not my favorite Stone Barrington novel ... but I am a die hard stone fan and love all the books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    Would recommend - typical Stuart Woods

    I've read many Woods books with the character Stone Barrington. This one does not disappoint. It starts with a touch of Mafia & ends in Hollyweird with a compelling murder mystery. The humor between Barrington & his friend Dino is always my favorite part.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012

    Recommend

    Great book, recommend, love this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2012

    Fun read

    Stuart Woods continues to write his Stone Barrington novels with humorous,fast-moving plots. Always interesting secondary characters. I like that many of the secondary characters show up in different books in this series.

    These books are fast reads. The characters are well-defined, the storylines flow well.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2010

    Great Books

    I like to read and this is a very good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2006

    I was able to put it down, and did so.

    I am perplexed by the popularity of the 'Stone Barrington' series. These books aren't mysteries. They are so ridiculously unbelievable as to be labeled romantic fantasies. The characters, including Stone Barrington, are superficial, narcissistic, and morally bankrupt (I mean, he wears the hand-me-down Armani clothes of a man who was murdered? This is sick!). Stone Barrington solves these crimes simply by making phone calls to excessively wealthy people, who the author, Mr. Woods, would have us believe are the most cooperative, amiable, and generous people who ever existed. If he needs transportation, he is provided a private jet. Needs a place to stay? Stays on a luxurious yacht. Wants lunch? A four star chef is provided. This is luxury taken to decadence and sold as hospitality. Women offer themselves sexually to Barrington with enough lust to make James Bond blush. These excesses just can't pass the 'Oh, brother!' rule. I first made it through 'Santa Fe Rules', one of two Stuart Woods books that were given to me. As I started 'L.A. Dead', I was having difficulty reading because I couldn't stop rolling my eyes. I finally thought, 'Enough!' and put it away. Stone Barrington doesn't investigate crime as much as the solutions are catered for him. I began to believe that the guilty person would send in the confession wrapped in a Tiffany's gift box. I like escapism as much as anyone, but these books are ridiculous. This isn't escapism. It's hallucination.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2004

    who did it

    loved this book. I just wanted to know who killed the main character and who killed the woman? I have my own ideas, but it would be nice if all of this came together.I have a need to tie all of the loose ends. I don't think I would read any of his other books as I have to know who did all of the murders. I want closure on my stories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2003

    Stuart Woods is Absolutely Amazing

    I am a recent fan of Stuart Woods and so far I am addicted. I am a particular fan of the Stone Barrington novels. They are full of suspense and keep you on the edge of your seat. He also adds estranged love mixed in with the suspense and murder. It is a great combination for keeping your attention. I have read the whole serious of Stone Barrington and I am anxious for the next book. Keep them Coming Stuart. Your writing is unbelievable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2002

    keeps you on the tip of your toes

    Being a newcomer to Stuart Woods books, I've definitely found a writer I like. His characters are true to life, or what I think they probably are like in the movie industry. This book is a definite must read and I will be reading the rest of his books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2001

    one of the best books ever written

    this book has everything you need in a book, from suspense to the glamorous high life of the movie industry. Extremely hard to put down, you will find yourself up all night trying to finish this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2001

    PAGE TURNER

    This was another great hit in the life of Stone Barrington. Hard to put down and easy to finish in a couple of sittings. Would definately recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2000

    Between a Rock and a Hard Place

    Between a rock and a hard place is where cop-turned lawyer Barrington Stone finds himself as he flees Italy--and his volatile Mafia princess girlfriend--for Los Angeles in the latest thriller from Stuart Woods. Stone winds up dealing with a targeted murder case that implicates the long-lost love of his wife. Not Woods best, but a good, quick read.

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