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Another installment of nonstop, high-stakes, utterly inconsequential action for Stone Barrington(Lucid Intervals,2010).
It's tough luck for Jim Hackett, founder and owner of Strategic Services, that he got shot to death while he was in Stone's company, but making his acquaintance has paid big dividends for Stone. In token of Woodman & Weld's appreciation for landing Strategic Services' business, managing partner Bill Eggers presents Stone with a $1 million check and dangles a promise of a full partnership before him. Given Stone's current lifestyle, however, his settling down with the firm where he's long been of counsel sounds about as likely as his settling down with just one woman. When his perennial-nuisance client Herbie Fisher summons Stone to his wedding reception to Christine Gunn, it looks as if Stone may be in for a serious romance with Christine's sister Adele Lansdown, who recently widowed herself by shooting her abusive husband. Alas, after a brief interlude between the sheets, Adele's shot to death herself. Will Stone, so grief-stricken that he doesn't have sex for nearly a week, be able to focus on catching her killer? Not unless he turns down an offer to accompany Mike Freeman, Hackett's successor at Strategic Services, on a clandestine flight to extract non-extraditable arms dealer Erwin Gebhardt, aka Pablo Estancia, for Lance Cabot at the CIA. The mission goes belly-up when Pablo escapes just before the plane lands in the United States, and the sequel promises even better: Pablo takes a train to one of his houses, eats a hearty breakfast and then asks Stone to represent him in his deposition by the CIA. In return for freedom from State Department harassment, Pablo promises some substantial revelations, including the current location of Osama bin Laden. Oh, and Herbie's marriage is springing leaks as well.
Woods, who evidently writes to a precise word length without bothering with beginnings and endings, delivers loads of juicy complications but no payoffs.
Stone Barrington was uncharacteristically late in meeting his former partner at the NYPD, Lieutenant Dino Bacchetti, for dinner, and Dino was not alone at the table. Dino ran the detective bureau at the 19th Precinct. Stone’s other dinner partner, Bill Eggers, managing partner at the prestigious law firm of Woodman & Weld, pretty much ran Stone, who, working from his home office in Turtle Bay, handled cases and clients of Woodman & Weld that they did not wish to be seen to handle.
“You’re late,” Eggers said.
“I’m late for dinner with Dino,” Stone said, “but since I didn’t have a date with you, I prefer to think of myself as right on time for our meeting.”
Eggers managed a chuckle. “Fair enough,” he said. “I’m buying tonight.”
“For me, too?” Dino asked.
“For you, too, Dino,” Eggers replied.
A waiter set a Knob Creek on the rocks before Stone; the other two men already had glasses of brown whiskey before them. Stone raised his glass, but Eggers put a hand on his arm.
“No, I’ll do the toasting tonight,” he said, raising his own glass. “To Stone Barrington, who has earned more than a night out on my expense account.”
“Hear, hear,” Dino said.
“I’ll drink to that,” Stone offered, raising his glass and taking a pull from it. “Is there an occasion, Bill, or are you just feeling magnanimous?”
“A little of both,” Eggers said, taking an envelope from his pocket and handing it to Stone.
Stone saw, through a window in the envelope, his name, which indicated to him that it might be printed on a check. “Bill, have you taken to personally delivering payment of my bills to the firm?”
“Open it,” Eggers said.
Stone lifted the flap and pulled open the envelope far enough to see the amount of the check, which was one million dollars. His mouth worked, but no sound came out.
“Don’t bother to thank me,” Eggers said. “After all, you earned it, and may I say that this is the first annual bonus the firm has ever paid to an attorney who is ‘of counsel’?”
Stone recovered his voice. “Why, thank you, Bill, and please thank anyone else at the firm who had anything whatever to do with this.”
“This event is occurring because you were substantially responsible for bringing in Strategic Services as a new client, and they have turned out to be a very good client indeed. The death of Jim Hackett has increased their need for your counsel and ours.”
Jim Hackett had been the founder and sole owner of the firm, which served many corporations around the world in security matters of all sorts. He had been shot to death while in Stone’s company, on an island in Maine, by a sniper employed by two senior members of the British cabinet who believed Hackett to be someone else.
“Thank you again,” Stone said.
“I want you to know—and I realize I’m saying this in front of a witness—that if the growth of the Strategic Services account continues as I believe it will, then by this time next year I may very well be recommending you for a partnership at Woodman & Weld,” Eggers said.
Stone was once more dumbstruck. That this might happen had never, in his years of service to the firm, entered Stone’s mind. Furthermore, he knew that a partnership in Woodman & Weld would bring an annual income that would be a considerable multiple of the check in the envelope he held. Stone had always been an outsider at the firm, only occasionally visiting its offices and listed as “Of Counsel” only at the bottom of its letterhead.
“I will take your silence as evidence of shock,” Eggers said.
Stone nodded vigorously and downed half his drink while signaling for another.
“Make it three,” Eggers said to the waiter, “and let me see the list of special wines.”
Stone had seen the list of special wines, but he had never once ordered from it, because the wines started at $500 a bottle.
“Well,” Dino said, raising his glass again, “I’m happy I could be here on this special occasion.”
“Dino,” Eggers said, “you’ve done Stone many favors on our behalf over the years, so I’m happy you could be here, too.”
“Feel free to add me to the bonus list,” Dino said wryly.
“Only should you die in our service,” Eggers said pleasantly.
“I figured,” Dino replied.
Eggers opened the wine list, glanced at it, then closed it. “Order something that will go well with a Château Pétrus 1975,” he said, opening his menu.
Stone turned to the waiter, who was braced beside the table, holding his pad and pencil ready. “I want one of Barry’s secret steaks, medium rare,” Stone said, “and I’ll start with the French green bean salad, hold the peppers, use truffle oil.”
“Same here, rare,” Dino said.
“Make it three,” Eggers echoed, “and mine medium.”
The waiter dematerialized.
“Tell me,” Eggers said to Stone, “have you figured out why Jim Hackett was murdered?”
“I’ve never said this to anyone before,” Stone replied, “but I am under the constraint of the British Official Secrets Act and am, therefore, unable to respond to your question.”
“You’re shitting me,” Eggers said.
“I shit you not,” Stone replied. “You will recall that my client, at that time, was an arm of Her Majesty’s Government. They made me sign the Act.”
More specifically, Stone’s client had been a lovely redhead, who also happened to be the head of MI6, the foreign arm of British Intelligence.
“And,” Eggers said, “I perceive that your work for them resulted in the resignation and arrest of the British foreign secretary and the home secretary.”
“I cannot either confirm or deny your perception,” Stone said, “but just between the three of us, I would be very much surprised if those two gentlemen ever came to trial.”
“I suppose, if that happened, too much embarrassing information would come to light,” Eggers said.
“That is what I suppose, too,” Stone replied, “though no one has said as much to me. The government managed to keep it out of the British newspapers by employing the Official Secrets Act.”
“It made the New York Times,” Eggers said.
“All copies of which were banned for sale that day in the UK,” Stone said. “I don’t think that sort of thing has happened since the abdication of Edward the Eighth.”
“I’m glad your name was kept out of it,” Eggers said. “The firm would not have liked that sort of publicity. Our London office has too many clients who might have been embarrassed by your participation.”
“I’m glad, too,” Stone said. “Believe me.”
Dinner arrived, and the bottle of Pétrus, which Eggers tasted with some ceremony. “We’ll drink it,” he said to the waiter, and they did.
Stone took the elevator down from the third-floor bedroom of his Turtle Bay town house and walked into his ground-floor offices. He had inherited the house from a great-aunt and had done much of the restoration work himself. He walked down to the office of his secretary, Joan Robertson, and handed her his bonus check. “Get this into the account, please, and send the IRS the taxes.”
Joan nodded, then looked at the check. “WOW! What is this for?”
“It’s my year-end bonus,” Stone said.
“They’ve never given you a year-end bonus before,” Joan pointed out.
“I brought them the Strategic Services account,” he said. “Eggers liked that. By the way, write yourself a check for ten thousand; I think you’re entitled to a year-end bonus, too.”
“Yes, sir!” Joan said, turning to her computer.
“I’m going to a memorial service for Jim Hackett in a little while, so I may not be here when you get back. I’ll call you later.”
“Got it,” Joan said.
Stone walked back to his office and began reading correspondence.
Jim Hackett’s memorial service was held at a small Episcopal church on Park Avenue. As he entered, Mike Freeman, Hackett’s successor at Strategic Services, beckoned him to a front pew.
The priest made some rambling remarks about Hackett, then turned the pulpit over to Mike Freeman, who spoke movingly of his long relationship with Hackett, who had mentored him and had made him number two at the firm.
Posted January 28, 2011
This is okay for a Sunday afternoon read but it is not worth the current B&N cost. A fine author who has done much better work than this one. If you're interested, wait for it to become a $5 book.
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Posted November 15, 2010
In Manhattan attorney Stone Barrington goes to dine at his usual spot Elaine's with his former NYPD partner Dino Bachetti and his boss Bill Eggers managing partner at Woodman & Weld law firm arrives. His efforts leads to Bill giving Stone a check for one million dollars for bringing in a new client Strategic Services whose founder Hackett was murdered by British Intel agents in Maine with Barrington at his side. Apparently Stone's undercover work with British MI6 has brought in the new customer while Eggers says he may nominate Stone for a full partnership next year.
The CIA asks Stone to help escort from Spain to the States fugitive Erwin Gelbhardt. Stone becomes Gelbhardt's lawyer. He offers a deal with the Feds; in exchange for a lesser or no sentencing, his client will reveal where Osama bin Laden hides. Then there is Freeman of Strategic Services who may be running a Madoff scheme.
Putting aside background plausibility that is over the top of the Empire State Building starting with ignoring the on-line media presence, fans of the Barrington saga will enjoy his latest entry. Being "of counsel" he works cases for the company in which W&W do not want the DNA trail leading back to them and this time has a couple of deadly doozies. Fans will enjoy Stone's version of a legal thriller as the action never slows from the start with M16 in the background to the finish with the FBI in the forefront.
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Posted February 5, 2011
Posted January 25, 2011
Posted January 22, 2011
I guess the author has hit a wall with the Stone Barrington series. The early books were easy to read, but were entertaining and engaging. You didn't want to put them down. I kept wanting to put this one down and not pick it back up again.
First, nothing happens until almost 80 pages into a 237 book. By that I mean Stone wanders around and you think some plot line is developing, but it never does. Then when things appear to start happening his girlfriend is murdered. You would think that would develop a plot line, but the subject is dropped and never ties into the story. What is ridiculous is soon after her murder Stone takes up with another woman and even takes her to his house in Maine where he had just spent the weekend with the woman who was killed a few days later. And this isn't the only other plot line that never develops. The author leaves a number of issues open and unresolved. The book just ends that way.
Second, Woods fills the book with old retreads from previous Barrington novels. We once again deal with Lance Cabot, Holly Barker, Herbie Fisher, Tiffany (another former girlfriend and Federal prosecutor) and of course Dino and Bill Eggers.
The characters have been long worn out and the plot line(s) undeveloped, never developed or open at the end. It seems like the author had several different ideas for a book and couldn't decide which one he liked best so he just threw them all into this one novel, but then never developed any of the ideas. After reading this hugely disappointing effort I think I'll take a break from reading any future offerings from Stuart Woods.
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Posted April 4, 2011
Woods just keeps getting better and better. I can never wait until the next book is released. This is as good as it gets. Stone as usual is up to his ears in mystery, sex and money. Thus time he has money, a new airplane and a client that is as interesting ss they get. He earns his fee and then some. Dealing with his previous employer Lane Cabot director of operations for the CIA is as tough as it gets. This is a do not put down book I have the entire Woods collection and I continue to be amazed at this authors intense detail. If you are a Woods fan you will want this book. If you are not, you will still want this book. It is in Stuart Woods fashion just a great read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2011
I hate to say it, but I think Woods just called this one in. There was no resolution to some of the events in the book, you are left hanging, wondering why certain things took place? It was quick read but very unsatisfying.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 3, 2011
If you are wanting a suspenseful thriller than this is not the book for you. I must be on the list of few who thought the book was good -- it was a comfortable read and I personally enjoyed it. The only thing I didn't understand was why his lady friend was killed -- Woods did leave that hanging -- oh, well, maybe in the next novel we will find out. I enjoy the characters of Stone Barrington, Deano, Holly, Lance, and now the new company of Strategic moves. What will come next with this company -- will his identity be revealed more?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 24, 2011
Stuart Woods is back with a new Stone Barrington mystery. As usual, money just seems to fall into attorney Barrington's lap. He now has an offer for a partnership plus a million dollar bonus from the law firm he's of counsel to for bringing in a major new client, Strategic Services. He's just inherited a small jet from the deceased former CEO of Strategic Services, and all of this on top of the apartment and house he's inherited in past Stuart Woods' novels. Barrington is joined by his former NYPD partner Dino Bachetti, and Lance Cabot of the CIA for his almost nightly dinner at the very upscale Elaine's Restaurant in NYC. There's never any mention of a check, so one can only assume that Stone pays for everyone every night. Has Woods stretched the credibility factor far enough for you yet? No, you say? Then just wait until you get to the plot of STRATEGIC MOVES.
Stone finds himself in the middle of what appears to be a Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme as well as flying with members of Strategic and the CIA on a whirlwind trip to Iraq and Europe to covertly extract an arms merchant, which trip ends in the extractee escaping from the CIA by parachuting from the jet at 18,000 feet while sitting inside of a Mercedes sedan! To top it off, the Mercedes conveniently smashes down into someone's pool, damaging some landscaping. I would have thought that an object weighing just shy of 5,000 pounds would do a lot more damage than a little displaced water. Almost forgot, through all of these escapades, the CIA learns the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. All along the way, Barrington picks up stray clients and stray lovers.
Despite the incredible fantasy life Mr. Woods has invented for Stone Barrington, I thoroughly enjoyed STRATEGIC MOVES. It was easy-peasy reading and a nice way to spend an afternoon. Lynn Kimmerle