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Bel-Air Dead (Stone Barrington Series #20)

Bel-Air Dead (Stone Barrington Series #20)

3.7 167
by Stuart Woods

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Stone is no stranger to Bel-Air-and to the beautiful and wealthy widow who needs his help to become even wealthier. At stake is the sale of her investment in-and the resulting dissolution of-Hollywood's world-famous Centurion Studios. But when Stone arrives in Bel-Air to finalize the sale, he discovers that one of L.A.'s most rapacious power brokers has Centurion


Stone is no stranger to Bel-Air-and to the beautiful and wealthy widow who needs his help to become even wealthier. At stake is the sale of her investment in-and the resulting dissolution of-Hollywood's world-famous Centurion Studios. But when Stone arrives in Bel-Air to finalize the sale, he discovers that one of L.A.'s most rapacious power brokers has Centurion in his sights...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Woods's dizzyingly paced 20th Stone Barrington novel (after Strategic Moves) takes the New York attorney to Los Angeles to represent recent widow Arrington Calder, his sometime lover, in her attempts to keep control of Centurion Studios. Barrington undertakes a rapid realignment of Calder's holdings while forming alliances and buying shares to thwart the efforts of Prince Investment's Terry Prince, who wants the prime Bel-Air acreage the studio occupies. The murder of stockholder Jennifer Harris is only the first indication of how rough Prince plays. With longtime pal Dino Bacchetti at his side as well as the mighty resources of Mike Freeman's Strategic Services and Bill Eggers's law firm Woodman & Weld, Barrington matches financial wits with the arrogant Prince. There's cross-pollination with Woods's Ed Eagle series (Santa Fe Edge, etc.) as one of Eagle's nemeses plays a surprising role. Series fans will find Barrington as shrewd, sexy, and glib as ever. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Stone Barrington is all set to manage the sale of Centurion Studio, owned by the recently deceased husband of Arrington Calder, Barrington's ex-girlfriend and the mother of his son. Alas, Hollywood high-ups have other ideas about the studio. From the ever-popular Woods; look for a tour to support this one.
Kirkus Reviews

Stone Barrington (Lucid Intervals, 2010, etc.) fights to protect a Hollywood studio from a takeover bid that goes way beyond hostile.

Arrington Calder, the most durable of Stone's former lovers, wants the father of her son to come to La-La-Land to vote the shares in Centurion Studios her late husband, six-time Oscar-winning star Vance Calder, left her. By the time Stone and his NYPD ex-partner, Lt. Dino Bacchetti, land in L.A., Arrington's changed her mind, in the first of many plot complications that go nowhere. As Stone settles into Arrington's guest house and the battle lines form, it becomes clear that investor Terry Prince's bid to purchase a controlling interest in Centurion from Arrington and its other leading shareholders—ancient Centurion CEO Rick Barron, Hollywood heiress Jennifer Harris and Jim Long, currently sitting in jail accused of conspiring to murder Santa Fe attorney Ed Eagle (Santa Fe Edge, 2010, etc.)—is seriously bad news. For one thing, Terry's plan to build a hotel on Centurion's land would gut the studio. For another, his money is coming from Mexican and Colombian drug lords. Finally, his determination to close the deal crosses the line to murder, as Jennifer Harris discovers to her sorrow. Remaining cool throughout (his reaction when his Mercedes is blown up: "I guess we'd better take the Bentley"), Stone helps Centurion fend off this unwanted suitor while he thwarts equally aggressive subplots from Terry's beautiful, frigid executive assistant Carolyn Blaine and Ed Eagle's homicidally resourceful ex-wife.

Redoubtable Stone not only beds the best women and corrals the best lifestyle perks but succeeds so well in his job that he's rewarded with a full partnership in his law firm and a large share of control over Centurion himself. What a guy.

Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Stone Barrington Series , #20
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt


Elaine’s, late.
Stone Barrington sat with his client, Mike Freeman, of Strategic Services, and his former partner from his NYPD days, Dino Bacchetti, over the ruins of dinner and a bottle of excellent Cabernet.
“That was good,” Mike said. “I never knew how good the food was here, until you started bringing me.”
“Comfort food,” Dino said.
Elaine sat herself down in the spare chair. “Comfort food?” she asked. “Is that some kind of crack?”
“It’s high praise,” Stone said quickly, not wanting to get her started. Elaine’s did not enjoy a high reputation with the food critics of the local media, because they didn’t come often enough to get the good tables, but the regulars knew how good the food was, and that was all she really cared about.
“I’ll take high praise,” Elaine said.
Stone’s cell phone hummed on his belt, and he dug it out of its holster. “Stone Barrington.”
“Stone, it’s Arrington,” she said. Stone and Arrington had once been a very big item, to the extent of his having fathered a son by her.
“Well, hello there,” he said. “I thought I’d never hear from you again.” They had spent one night together in his Maine house, on Islesboro, at Dark Harbor, and then she had taken her leave, saying it was over.
“I want to hire you,” she said.
“I’m for hire. How’s Peter?”
“He misses his father,” she said.
Stone wondered which father she meant, himself or her late husband, movie megastar Vance Calder, whose son the world believed Peter to be. Stone didn’t know what to say.
“I mean Vance,” she said. “He hardly knows you.”
“All right,” Stone said. “Why do you want to hire me?”
“I’m going to say this fast, because I’m sleepy, and I want to go to bed. I know you’re at Elaine’s at this hour, but I’m not.”
“So, say it fast.”
“You remember Centurion Studios? A large Hollywood film factory.”
“I believe so.”
“You remember that Vance owned a third of the shares when he died?”
“I didn’t know it was that much.”
“He’d been buying the stock for many years, every time somebody died and some shares became available.”
“Got it.”
“There’s a stockholders’ meeting coming up, and there will be a vote on whether to sell the studio. It has always been closely held, and Vance wanted to keep it that way.”
“Who’s buying?”
“I don’t know, some corporation or other. They’ll sell the property to developers, and the studio will just be a letterhead.”
“And what do you want me to do?”
“Vote my shares against the sale, and do what you can to get the other stockholders to vote against it.”
“How many are there?”
“A couple of dozen, maybe. I’ll send you a list, along with my signed proxy, to the Bel-Air house. You can have the guesthouse, as usual. Manolo and Carmen will take good care of you.”
Manolo and Carmen were the Filipino houseman and his wife who ran the place. Stone knew he would be taken care of very well indeed. “All right, I guess I can manage that.”
“Can you get there tomorrow?”
“Or the day after,” Stone said. He wanted to fly himself in his new airplane.
“I guess that will be all right,” she answered. “You remember Rick Barron?”
“Yes, I met him and his wife at Vance’s burial.”
“That’s right. Call him as soon as you get there, and take him and his wife, Glenna, to dinner. Rick is in his nineties now, but he’s sharp as a straight razor, and he’s leading the fight to keep the studio closely held.”
“I’ll be glad to do that.”
“In fact, invite them to the house, and let Manolo and Carmen do the dinner. They know all the Barrons’ favorite dishes.”
“All right.”
“Call me when you get there?”
“Will do.”
“Say hello to Elaine and Dino.”
“Will do.”
“Goodbye.” She hung up.
Stone put away his phone. “Arrington says hello to both of you,” he said to them.
“How is she?” Elaine asked.
“Sleepy,” Stone replied. “Dino, you want to spend a few days in L.A.?”
“On whose nickel?” Dino asked.
“Transportation is free, and we’ll be staying in Arrington’s guesthouse.”
“I’m in,” Dino said.
Mike spoke up. “Can you just walk away from the NYPD that way?”
“I get time off, just like everybody,” Dino said, “but I get to approve when, and I approve this one.”
“Okay,” Mike said.
“Mike,” Stone said, “Dino has the NYPD by the ear, didn’t you know? He’s a law unto himself over there. The new commissioner, who doesn’t know him very well, loves him.”
“He’d love me more, if he knew me better,” Dino said.
Elaine pinched Dino’s cheek. “To know him is to love him,” she said, planting a big kiss on his forehead. She got up and made her move to the next table of regulars.
Dino rubbed his cheek. “I hope she didn’t make a bruise.” “With that five o’clock shadow, who could tell?” Stone asked.
“You guys have the life,” Mike said. “And I’ll bet you’re going to fly the Mustang out there.”
“You betcha,” Stone replied.
“Hey, wait a minute,” Dino said. “I didn’t volunteer for suicide.”
“It’s time you had your first flight in the Citation Mustang,” Stone said.
“He’s right, Dino,” Mike echoed. “You’ll love it.”
Dino looked doubtful. “I just don’t know if God intended Stone to be put in charge of a jet airplane.”
“You liked my old airplane well enough,” Stone said.
“Yeah, but it had a propeller up front that made it go, and I took comfort in that.”
“The Mustang has two engines, Dino,” Mike said, “and they’re fan jets. Twice the safety.”
“No propellers, though.”
“Propellers would just slow it down,” Stone said.
“Mike, you think I should do this?”
“I’ve flown with him, Dino; he’ll get you there.”
“Well, okay, if you say so.”
“You get a choice of seats,” Stone said. “Up front with me, or you can lounge in the back and sleep all the way.”
“How could I sleep with you at the controls?” Dino asked. “I’ll take my chances up front, where I can do something, if I have to.”
“I’ll teach you to fly the airplane, Dino,” Stone said.
“Hey, that’s a good idea. That way when you turn blue and clutch your chest, I can save myself.”

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

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Bel-Air Dead 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 169 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Southern California, elderly actor Vance Calder dies. He leaves his much younger widow Arrington his stock in Centurion Studios in Bel-Air. Arrington asks her former lover Manhattan based attorney Stone Barrington to travel to Los Angeles to represent her legally, as she battles over who controls the studio. Dropping everything to assist the mother of his son, Barrington makes Strategic Moves starting with reorganizing Arrington's shares; buying more stock for her; and finally forging partnerships with other holders in order for his client to have the controlling interest. Known for playing hardball Terry Prince, CEO of Prince Investments, wants the choice property where Centurion Studios resides as he knows there is much more to be made from development. When someone murders stockholder Jennifer Harris, Barrington assumes his opponent raised the stakes. With his sidekick Dino Bacchetti having his back, Stone obtains local help as he plays chess with an amoral opponent. With a twist that includes Ed Eagle territory (see Santa Fe Edge and Santa Fe Dead.); fans will enjoy the Stone invasion of Hollywood as the East Coast hipster matches up against a West Coast shark. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Stone arrives in California until the climax as regardless of which coast the hero is in, he retains his usual unconcerned demeanor in the face of danger while also being a chick magnet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very disappointed. I have been a fan for years and have read most of his books, but this one reads like it was written by a sophomore in high school. Cannot believe this is the same author I have enjoyed over the years. Glad I got it from the library and didn't spend any money on it.
justL1209 More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of Stuart Woods for years, but his books are starting to read like he's phoned them in. Not much depth, plot, etc. This being said, they are still good brain candy.
whocareswhoiam More than 1 year ago
Always enjoy the entertainment in these easy to read novels. We especially enjoy when the characters and their story lines collide - creates fun, intrigue, and keeps the pages turning quickly. Arrington has returned, Strategic Services gets a bigger role and we expect to read more about them in upcoming novels. Chapter 40 is funny. We were not disappointed in the ending and we certainly are ready for the next Stone Barrington & Ed Eagle novels to take us to new territory. If you love Stuart Woods and his cast of characters, you will enjoy this novel. I guess I will have to go to the newly renovated Bel Air hotel to see if they really did change the name of the Tortilla Soup to Taco Soup - or is that just the name NY folk give to the Mexican delight??? I note that Mr. Woods does need a better editor, there are always small errors that really are way to easy to catch - maybe the editor doesn't enjoy reading these books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't get into it....not a typical woods read. So many people complain about the price of books....go to the library like I do. After you pay that kind of money for a book what do you do with it?
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Enjoyable read. Stuart woods never lets me down!
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