Orchid Beach (Holly Barker Series #1)

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Smart, attractive, and fiercely independent, Major Holly Barker, the army-brat daughter of a master sergeant, has been forced into early retirement at the age of thirty-seven as the result of a scandalous sexual harassment case. With the help of her dad she makes the move to civilian life, becoming deputy chief of police in Orchid Beach, Florida. But below the calm, sunny surface of this sleepy, well-to-do coastal island town lies a web of evil and deceit that escalates when a colleague and another associate are ...
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Orchid Beach (Holly Barker Series #1)

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Overview

Smart, attractive, and fiercely independent, Major Holly Barker, the army-brat daughter of a master sergeant, has been forced into early retirement at the age of thirty-seven as the result of a scandalous sexual harassment case. With the help of her dad she makes the move to civilian life, becoming deputy chief of police in Orchid Beach, Florida. But below the calm, sunny surface of this sleepy, well-to-do coastal island town lies a web of evil and deceit that escalates when a colleague and another associate are brutally gunned down. Alone, an outsider with no clues to go on, finding the killers won't be easy for Holly, and her seemingly low-key new career soon thrusts her into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Surrounded by a staff of officers she neither knows nor trusts, Holly finds help in a most unexpected source - Daisy, a Doberman of exceptional intelligence and loyalty who quickly becomes her inseparable companion and protector. The closer she gets to unraveling the mystery of Orchid Beach, however, the nearer Holly comes to danger darker and more deadly than any she could ever have anticipated.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Stuart Woods wrote one of the most serious and accomplished crime novels of my generation, Chiefs, a southern novel spanning 40 years and the lives of three police chiefs who must try to solve a brutal racial murder. It is elegant, elegiac, and powerful. It also inspired a miniseries almost as good as the book itself.

If Woods's work since then has been less daring and innovative, he has become a reliable purveyor of glossy beach books that are as much fun as movie popcorn.

And Orchid Beach, the new one, is no exception.

Former Army Sergeant Holly Barker is a witness in an Army sexual-harrassment case in which the old-boys network triumphs as usual. Holly knows that her military career is virtually over. The old boys will see to it that she's never again promoted. She decides to take her dad's friend up on his offer of making her deputy chief of police in Orchid Beach, Florida.

My phrase "a reliable purveyor of glossy beach books" might sound slightly patronizing, but I don't mean it to be at all. This one is put together with as much art and skill as far more "serious" crime novels.

Woods is so smooth, so slick, he gives us a 40-page nonstop run that gets the novel going in high gear. Yes, Holly reaches Orchid Beach, but there finds that the chief who hired her is in a coma. Somebody shot him in the head the night before. She goes to talk to the chief's best friend — and finds him murdered. What kind of town is Orchid Beach? What has she gotten herself into? Are any of these seemingly innocent people to be believed?

Woods plays all hiscards.There's romance, danger (a couple of big-budget Bruce Willis-like action scenes), and a lot of tartly observed characters who live in gated communities away from the riffraff.

There's even a dog, a winsome Doberman named Daisy, with whom Holly identifies innordinately (they're both tough bitches, as she notes).

Raymond Chandler once wrote to Erle Stanley Gardner that the virtue of fast writing (such as Gardner practiced and Chandler loathed) was that the relentlessness of the storytelling sweeps you along so irresistibly that you never stop to question whether this or that plot point makes sense. All of Woods's recent books have that "irresistible" quality — you just can't stop reading them. But I doubt they're written quickly. Woods is a polished writer in every sense, and a lot of the sentences shine. And the back stories of the major characters are worked out in loving and fascinating detail.

If you want state-of-the-art crime entertainment, then you want Stuart Woods. He delivers the goods every time out.
— Ed Gorman, barnesandnoble.com

School Library Journal
YA-An entertaining suspense story. After losing a sexual-harassment lawsuit, Major Holly Barker, 37, retires from the military and accepts a job as assistant police chief in Orchid Beach, FL. Even before she gets her trailer unhitched and her uniform on, police chief Chet Marley and his friend Hank Doherty are brutally murdered. She doesn't know whom she can trust in her department, and the murders seem to be tied to the heavily secured and gated community of Palmetto Gardens. Holly adopts a Doberman pinscher (who comes to her rescue more than once) and becomes romantically involved with a local lawyer. The main characters are well drawn and expressive. Holly Barker is tough when she needs to be, and clever and persistent in following her hunches. With a little assistance, she finds the leak in her department and solves the murders.-Patricia White-Williams, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA
Pam Lambert
Swimming in suspense. -- People
Kirkus Reviews
Lawyer/cop/shamus/adventurer Stone Barrington chronicler Woods gives his swaggering hero and any Stone-weary readers a welcome break—though the result is a so-so suspenser with a distaff paragon just as deadly and insubstantial as the male.

What can you do with a female hero that you can't do with a man? She can get threatened and bullied by troglodyte guys; she can have a discreet romance that reminds you how vulnerable she is; she can get assaulted by a rapist; she can sue for sexual harassment. Woods obligingly works in every one of these episodes, starting with the lawsuit, which is doomed to failure because Major Holly Barker's harasser, a West Point grad, is in so tight with the Army brass that she jumps at the chance to resign her commission and take a job as Deputy Chief under her dad's old pal Chet Marley, of Florida's Orchid Beach. Before she can even introduce herself to the other (male) officers, though, the Chief is gunned down, presumably by the same person or persons who grabbed his shotgun, drove out to the house of his best friend, dog trainer Hank Doherty, and settled his hash too. The only survivor is Hank's wonder dog Daisy (imagine Lassie able to fetch Timmy a Heineken), a real bitch Holly is proud to take as a role model. And she'll need the toughest model she can get, because Woods, uncomfortable with the constraints of the whodunit formula, soon directs Holly's attention to outsized enemies both without (a gated community on the fringes of Orchid Beach that's exclusive, private, and armed to the teeth) and within (dark hints of a mole within Holly's department). Before many suns have set on Holly and her true love, and all those other girls'-only plot devices have kicked in, she'll be joining the FBI in a full-scale assault on an upscale Waco that leaves no Stone untopped.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061013416
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Series: Holly Barker Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 4.36 (w) x 6.76 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Stuart Woods

Stuart Woods is the author of more than forty novels, including the New York Times bestselling Stone Barrington and Holly Barker series. An avid sailor and pilot, he 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

Orchid Beach


By Stuart Woods

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Stuart Woods
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061013416

Chapter One

Holly Barker, with the rest of the crowd, was called to her feet as the panel of officers filed into the courtroom. She was a spectator now, no longer a witness, but she wanted to be here for this.

Colonel James Bruno stood at the defense table, ramrod straight, and watched his judges with beady eyes. For the first time since his trial had begun, he was not smiling.

"Seats!" the clerk of the court called out, and all sat.

The brigadier general, who was president of the court, cleared his throat. "The following three verdicts have been reached unanimously," the general said. "As to the first charge, sexual harassment, we have reached a verdict of not guilty."

Holly's stomach shrank into a knot. She locked her knees so that they would not buckle. She knew what could only come next.

"As to the second charge, attempted rape, we have reached a verdict of not guilty," the general said. "And as to the third charge, conduct unbecoming an officer, we have reached a verdict of not guilty."

"Yes!" screamed a woman in the front row.

Holly recognized her as Colonel Bruno's wife. It was the first time she had appeared in court.

"Colonel Bruno," the general said, "you are restored to duty. This court is adjourned."

Holly made her way slowly through the crowd, ignoring the reporters who weredemanding her reaction to the verdict. On her way she came abreast of the young blond lieutenant who had been the other complainant in the case. Holly found her hand and squeezed. The woman was in tears.

The cold outside air struck like a slap, reviving her, and she saw her father's car at the curb. She got in beside him.

"I'm sorry," he said. He was dressed in his master sergeant's uniform and wore the green beret of the special forces.

"You knew, didn't you?" she asked.

Hamilton Barker nodded. "It was in the cards," he said. "It was Bruno's word against yours. He's a West Pointer, and so were most of the court. They weren't going to destroy his career."

"They've destroyed mine," Holly said. She could see the gold oak leaf on her left shoulder out of the corner of her eye.

"You can request a transfer, and they can't deny it," her father said.

"Come on, Ham. They'd never let me forget it. I'd end up in some unit commanded by a classmate of Bruno's, and I'd be repeatedly passed over for promotion on some pretext or other."

Her father said nothing.

"I could get a job on a police force somewhere," she said.

"Funny you should mention that," her father replied.

They sat in a steak house near the base, the ruins of their dinner before them. The talk had been of army, Vietnam and army, and Holly had done all the listening.

She liked Ham's friend and old comrade-in-arms, Chet Marley; he was smaller and skinnier than Ham, but he had the same wiry toughness as her father, the same crow's-feet around the eyes from squinting into the distance. And he seemed very smart.

"Okay, enough of this old-soldier stuff," Marley said suddenly. "I've got a problem, Holly, and I think you might be the person to help me solve it."

"Tell me, Chet," Holly said.

"I'm chief of a twenty-four-man force in Orchid Beach, Florida, and there's a gaping hole where the number-two man ought to be."

"Don't you believe in promoting from within?" Holly asked.

"I believe in the best man for the job," Marley said. "Or woman," he added.

"You short of good men?"

"I'm short of experienced men. Most of them are in their twenties. I've got one man who's forty and has experience, but I don't trust him."

"Don't trust him, how?" Holly asked.

"He's a politician, and I don't like politicians. He thinks he should have my job, which is okay, I guess, except he'd screw it up if he had it."

"Why don't you fire him?"

"He's never given me any real cause, and he's connected with some of the city council."

"That's bad, I guess," Holly replied. "I'm no politician, but I can see how that could be difficult to deal with."

"I'm going to retire next year, and I don't want him to have my job," Marley said. "My idea is to bring in an experienced . . . person, somebody who can take charge and be ready when I go."

Holly nodded, but said nothing.

"I know about your record from your old man," Marley said, "and I've asked around some, too, because I wouldn't take his word for anything." He grinned and cast a sideways glance at Ham Barker. "You're already running more MPs than I've got cops. I've heard about your unit citations and the level of training and performance you demand from your people, and I like what I hear."

"Thank you," she said.

"Of course, we're not the army, and things have to be handled a little different in civilian life, but I think you could get used to that."

"I'm sure I could," Holly said.

"It's a nice town, Orchid Beach. It sits on a barrier island halfway down the east coast of Florida, has a population of around twenty thousand, a lot of them retirees."

"Lots of tourists?"

"No, not really tourists. We get the same folks back, year after year, most of them to family beach houses--folks from Atlanta and Charlotte and Birmingham, and a lot of northeasterners. We've got no high-rise hotels, no casinos and only a few motels. There's a small black community and a stable blue-collar group, mostly construction workers, plumbers, electricians and a few retired military folk. We've got a low crime rate and not much of a drug problem, until recently."

Continues...


Excerpted from Orchid Beach by Stuart Woods Copyright © 2007 by Stuart Woods. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 60 )
Rating Distribution

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(32)

4 Star

(14)

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(10)

2 Star

(1)

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(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 60 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Holly Barker's first day as Deputy Chief of Police at Orchid Beach is all bad. Two murders -- no clues, no motive.

    Holly Barker grew up as a military brat, got hooked on her father¿s trade and climbed through the military ranks and OCS to major in charge of a military police division. Her immediate superior, a West Point grad, tried to woo the attractive major and when that didn¿t work he attempted to rape her.<BR/>Holly filed harassment and attempted rape charges but lost out to the old boy¿s and West Point collegiality club. <BR/>Holly retired from the army and was hired by an old army buddy of her father¿s as Deputy Chief of Police in the city of Orchid Beach located on the east coast of Florida.<BR/>Chief Chet Marley went outside the department to hire Holly because he suspected there was at least on mole inside his organization. Something big was going on in Orchid Beach that involved smuggling, money laundering, drugs or possibly weapons ¿ but he couldn¿t put his finger on it.<BR/>Holly drove south, leaving her army nightmare behind, only to inherit another on her first day as Deputy Chief of Police at Orchid Beach. Chief Chet Marley had been murdered the night before her arrival, which complicated her standing with the police department and more than that, being thrust into the job of acting Chief of Police. Bad blood within the city council notwithstanding, Holly Barker weathered the storm and was eventually installed as the permanent Chief of Police.<BR/>Chief Barker¿s investigation into Marley¿s murder was inhibited by the mole factor. And if that wasn¿t enough the discovery of the dead body of Hank Doherty, less than a mile from the scene of Marley¿s murder was. Doherty was a paraplegic Vietnam Vet and another buddy of Ham Barker and Chet Marley.<BR/>When and where the murders took place were the only known factors in the investigation ¿ why was the unknown? <BR/>In the middle of a seemingly hopeless situation Holly Barker inherited a dog named Daisy, Hank Doherty¿s well-trained Doberman. Holly and Daisy quickly bonded and the chief found an immediate friend and a backup that she could trust.<BR/>The death of two army buddies got Ham Barker¿s attention and he hurried south to find the killer or killers of his pals. Holly loved her father, but wanted no outside interference in her investigation. However, as she already knew, standing up to Ham Barker was like standing up to Mount Rushmore.<BR/>Nothing came easy in the investigation, however bits and pieces of clues began to point in the direction of a gated and heavily armed community called Palmetto Gardens that was located just inside the Orchid Beach city limits.<BR/>Stuart Woods fine storytelling ability and his fast paced plot, with enough twists and turns to satisfy most mystery lovers¿, leads to a logical conclusion.<BR/>Tom Barnes author of 'The Hurricane Hunters and Lost in the Bermuda Triangle.'

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    Stuart Woods' Orchid Beach

    I could not put the book down. Stuart Woods stayed true to form. The characters were credible and the dialog was right on. I still love Stuart Woods.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2002

    Where was the editor on this one?

    This book was so filled with contradictions, I found it very discouraging. One minute Holly Barker is watching the sunset from her new trailer park, and the next morning the sun is coming up from the same direction. She and her father retire from the Army within weeks of each other, her after 20 years and he after 30. How does that math work out? I "reckon" this author didn't do his homework on this one. Interesting plot but with too many questions left unanswered...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2000

    Thank God he didn't kill off the dog

    I have read several of Mr. Wood's other books (the Stone Barington novels), but I certainly enjoyed this protagonist much more so than his prior ones. While at times things seemed to fall into place a little too implausibly, I found this to be an excellent read, overall.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2000

    Hoping to see another book about Holly Barker

    It would be a shame to not write more of a series about Holly Barker & her dog Daisy. It's also a shame that the 'professional' review dismissed this as too cliche...I wonder what the reviewer thinks happen to real women...romance, sexual harassment (usually not this bad), changing jobs, male work forces, & new pets...its called life. Mr. Wood did a great job making a intense story about a very realistic 'Excellent Working B(****)'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Orchid Beach - Top-Notch Series Title: Orchid Beach Author: Stu

    Orchid Beach - Top-Notch Series

    Title: Orchid Beach
    Author: Stuart Woods
    Narrator: Debra Monk
    Length: Unabridged; 6 hours
    Publisher: Harper Audio
    Published: August 1998
    Genres: Fiction; Mystery





    My Rating: ¿¿¿¿




    Synopsis:
    New York Times bestselling author Stuart Woods delivers a riveting thriller that introduces an exciting addition to the pantheon of fictional sleuths.
    Forced into early retirement at thirty-seven, smart, attractive, and fiercely independent Major Holly Barker trades in her bars as a military cop for the badge of deputy chief of police in Orchid Beach, Florida. But below the sunny surface of this sleepy, well-to-do island town lies an evil that escalates into the cold-blooded murder of one of Holly's new colleagues.
    An outsider, Holly has little to go on for answers and no one to help her—except Daisy, a Doberman of exceptional intelligence and loyalty that becomes her companion and protector. The closer Holly gets to the truth, the more she knows that it'll take one smart dog with guts to sniff out this killer—before he can catch her first.




    My Review:
    I typically don't pick up older books to read, but it just happen to be that the end of the year was nearing and I needed to complete a challenge with a flower/plant in the title, and I came across Orchid Beach. I had never read anything by Stuart Woods before, but I must say that this was a gem of a find! Once I finished, I was already trying to figure out how to get my hands on Orchid Blues, book 2!




    The narrator was a wonderful fit for Major Holly Barker, whose character I absolutely adored! I loved her carefree don't give a crap what anybody thinks attitude and her drive to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible! The narrator kept me entertained throughout the entire book and made it seem like the story was over in no time! She also did a great job distinguishing herself between the different characters, so as not to confuse the reader as to who was actually talking! Her reading was smooth and animated in all the right spots! I hope to hear her on the next book!




    Back to the characters...there was an interesting cast of characters in this book! All of their personalities were so unique of that from anything that I've read before, and I think I enjoyed that the most! Of course, Daisy the Dog is my favorite, but Holly is a close second!




    I enjoyed the writing of Woods and his style. I felt that it flowed smoothly and concisely. He is really in tune with creative writing at its best and provides the perfect amount of romance and suspense, without the romance overpowering the suspense. He has a great since of climax and did a wonderful job of keeping the reader going until the very end.




    Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and have just found myself a new author and series to follow! I've already got Orchid Blues and will be starting it soon, on audio as well! Thanks for a great book/series, Mr. Woods!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2013

    Must read!

    Great new character, Holly lives a very exciting life. Can't wait to read the other books in this series.

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  • Posted November 22, 2013

    I enjoyed this book and the murder mystery that unfolds. I enjoy

    I enjoyed this book and the murder mystery that unfolds. I enjoyed the location since I am familiar with the real area the factious town is located in. The characters are well developed as well as the way in which the story unfolds.
    I loved the way the dog plays into the action. A great dog!

    There is a light sex scene as well as a detailed rape attempt.

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  • Posted November 2, 2013

    Highly recommended

    nice twist and turns. You will not want to put this book down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    Good Read

    I love Stuart Woods books and enjoyed this book thoroughly. Will read the entire 'Holly Baker' series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    Mate a she cat!

    At lime res one! Hurry! She will do anything if you overpower her! She will be your mate or have one hundred kits! She wont resist!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    Flowersong

    Growls at the cat.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    Frosthawk

    "Oh." Suddenly his eyes rolled and he fell limp on the ground beside her. She saw red feathers on a small metal stick that injected the medicine into his body. No twoleg was around.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2013

    Good book

    I wish I'd started reading Stuart Woods years ago

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013

    Mimi

    I lean my head on your chest. Enjoying being with you and your smell thinking to myself how romantic this was. Shivering just a little i look into your eyes. My eyes sparkiling. "Hey if you want to we can go to a bar"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    Riveting

    This book had me from chapter one. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters. The suspense had my heart racing at times. I love Daisy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    Page Turner

    I love Stuart Woods books. Got hooked and love all the characters. Fast paced, some humor along the way, never dull.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2007

    Not what I expected

    I was a little disappointed with this book. Too many characters with the letter 'H' starting the name which made it confusing to follow who was who. A dog that understands full sentences? Who, by the way is too played up as a major character on the book jacket. I felt the dialogue between characters was juvenile and unreal, something from a highschool writer, not a New York Times bestseller. The rape scene was unnecessary as well.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2000

    exciting and fast moving

    except for an out of character near-rape scene,the heroine manages to bring the bad guys to justice. Holly would not have been dumb enough to drive alone to their hideout.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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