Chiefs (Will Lee Series #1)

Chiefs (Will Lee Series #1)

by Stuart Woods
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Chiefs (Will Lee Series #1) by Stuart Woods

Stuart Woods’s Edgar Award-winning debut novel—a classic American mystery saga about three generations of lawmen tangled in a web of passion, secrets, destiny, and murder in their small Southern town...

In the winter of 1920, the first body is found in Delano, Georgie—the naked, brutalized corpse of a young boy. It is a crime too horrific to be ignored, the first of many that will span four decades—embroiling three police chiefs in a remarkable manhunt that will expose the hatreds, fear, and festering wounds beneath the surface of their sleepy God-fearing community.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451215802
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/28/2005
Series: Will Lee Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 106,035
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.22(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Stuart Woods is the author of more than sixty novels, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Stone Barrington 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 Florida, Maine, and New Mexico.


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

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Book One: Will Henry Lee

HUGH HOLMES, president of the Bank of Delano and chairman of the Delano City Council, was a man who, more than most, thought about the present in terms of the future. It was one of his great strengths, both as a banker and as a politician, but on a cold morning in December of 1919, this facuIty failed him. It would be many years before he would have some grasp of how that morning changed his future, changed everything.

Holmes prided himself on being able to took at a man as he entered the bank and predict what the man would want, On this morning he watched through the sliding window in the wall be tween his office and the main room of the bank as Will Henry Lee entered, and Holmes indulged himself in a bit of his usual prognostication. Will Henry Lee was a cotton farmer; his standing mortgage was due the first of the year, and he would want it renewed. It took Holmes only seconds to review the circumstances: Will Henry's debt amounted to about thirty-five percent of the value of his farm, in reasonably good times. That was a lower level of debt than was borne by most farmers, and Will Henry had paid his interest on time and made two payments against principal. But Holmes knew, the boll weevil situation being what it was, that Will Henry might fail with his next crop. Still, he respected the man, liked him, wen; he decided to renew. He leaned forward at his desk and pretended to read a letter, confident that he had anticipated the content of their approaching discussion and had worked out an appropriate response. Will Henry knocked at the open door, sat down, exchanged pleasantries, and askedHolmes for the job of chief of police.

Holmes was stupefied, partly by the completely unexpected request, and partly by the total collapse of his early-warning system. His mind was not accustomed to such surprises, and it lurched about through a long moment of silence as it struggled to assimilate this outrageous input and get it into an orderly framework of thought. The effort was a failure. To give himself more time, he clambered onto familiar ground. "Well, now, Will Henry, you're not overextended on your farm. We could probably see you through another crop, even with things the way they are with cotton." To his credit, Holmes maintained his banker's face throughout the exchange.

"Hugh, if I extended I'd have to have more capital, which means getting deeper in debt to the bank. If I did that for another crop things wouldn't get any better; they'd just get worse. Better farmers than me are going under. I think you'd be doing the best thing for the bank if you took the farm now and sold it. I might get something after the note was paid. To tell you the truth, Hoss Spence offered me nearly about exactly what I owe for the place just last week, but I think I'd rather let the bank take it than let a man buy me out for a third of what the place is worth. Hoss's peaches and cattle are going to be on a lot of land where cotton used to grow, and I'd just as soon my land didn't get included in that." He stopped talking, looked at Holmes, and waited.

Holmes's brain was beginning to thrash through the gears now. Item one: Will Henry was right about the bank's position; taking the farm now would give a better chance of coming through the transaction profitably; things could truly be a whole lot worse next year. Item two: Delano had long been big enough for a chief, but the town wasn't big enough to attract an experienced officer from another force. Holmes, as chairman of the city council, had been looking hard for months for a suitable man. The chief at La Grange had put it to him bluntly. "Mr. Holmes, I'll tell you the truth; right now Delano couldn't even attract a decent patrolman from a larger town, let alone a sergeant. My advice to you would be to find a local man that people respect, and give him the job. In a town like Delano he can do about ninety-nine percent of what he's got to do with just plain old respect."

Holmes looked across the desk at Will Henry. He respected the min, and he was a harsher judge than most. Will Henry was well known in the community, even though he and his father before him had been country men. Maybe his always having lived in the country would mix a little distance with familiarity and give respect a sharper edge. Holmes resisted an urge to pump Will Henry's hand and pin a badge on him right on the spot. He had to preserve a reputation for caution, and, anyway, he couldn't make the decision entirely on his own.

"Well, I'll have to bring this up at the next council meeting." He paused. "Have you talked to Carrie about this, Will Henry?"

"No, I wanted to talk to you first. Carrie's all ready to worry us through another crop, but I think it'd be a kind of relief to her to have done with the farm. We'd have to find a house in town, and I think she'd like fixing that up. She's really always been a town girl at heart, I think. What's your opinion of my chances for this job, Hugh?"

Holmes cleared his throat. "Well, I guess you could say les within the maim of possibility. I'll see that the council gives the proposal serious consideration." The two men rose and shook hands. "I might be able to help you with finding a house in town, too." He already...

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Chiefs (Will Lee Series #1) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am an avid reader, and I will have to say this is the best written book I have ever read. So true to what happened in my beloved South in that era
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a classic story of rural Georgia written by a well known native. It was a gift to someone who recently moved to the writer's home town. It was a hit.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I too love the original, I still have the paperback that I fell in love with. I do not recall how many times I have read it. I also have a very worn copy of the movie of Mr. Woods book. I read all of Mr. Woods books, but I will not buy the anniversary edition, it can't be improved on so why another copy. Thanks for all your books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT. Think of great reads such as 'The Godfather', 'Gone With The Wind' and 'Roots'...'Chiefs' is THAT GOOD!! I finally found a copy in large print and although it was almost 700 pages long, I couldn't put it down until I turned the last page. The emotional rollercoaster hasn't stopped yet. READ THIS won't regret it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great book! Buy this book, tell your friends but don't loan it out, you'll never get it back!
SuzieQB More than 1 year ago
Really a great story that keeps you wondering "who is going to be next"? Lots of surprizes thru out the book. Ending will really surprize you too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This tail is a history of a small southern town and the police chiefs that served there from the 1920s to the 1960s. It is a pretty accurate depiction of the wretched state of race relations and politics during that period and how progressive elements slowly inched their community in the direction of justice. Woven through this history are the unsolved crimes of a serial killer that take place over the administrations of these chiefs. I found these histories a little frustrating because each story seemed incomplete and left issues unresolved; however, if you can hang on until the end, it comes to a satisfying conclusion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you're a Stone Barrington fan first this book gives you great insight into Will Lee who's been mentioned in a few of the early novels. Awesome story keeps you glued to the book. Highly recommend for any Stuart Woods fans!
sherrb1158 More than 1 year ago
Hello Fellow Readers …. You might have found an Outstanding book! I found this book to be a totally unexpected treasure trove of character development, well researched or experienced historical scenery, combined with the writing encompassing the entertaining aspects of surprise, suspense and plot development. I would rate this as a first class novel. The historical aspects of this blew me away, as being in my early 50's I felt as if I had either known many of the people in these stories; or had their stories told to me and brought to life by my grandparents or great Aunts; or lived through the remainder of the time-line through the news or through my own experience, first-hand. Now, let me ask you .... is that not one of the primary objectives of a writer? .... to convey those experiences to the reader? I never expected this to be one of my favorite novels when I purchased this on a bit of a whim and a listing suggestion from my Nook shopping list. WOW! This is an absolutely outstanding novel. I don't know that I would put this up there with Thomas Wolfe, ("You Can't Go Home Again"; "The Web and the Rock"; etc.), but this is a seriously good read. It really makes one wish there were more books that would go into a parallel lifetime story of some of the wonderfully developed characters in this book. At first I found the generation-to-generation segmentation of the book to be frustrating, but they flowed so well into each other that I actually loved that aspect of the book as I progressed through the story line. This is a gem of a book that should have, in my humble opinion, warranted much more exposure since the time that it was published, but that seems to be consistently the case with really good books. I truly was sorry to come to the last page. I also hear from reading reviews of Stuart Wood's more recent books that he has gone the road of liberal proselytizing. That is all well and good, and I encourage his continued works, I just tend more to the conservative side. So, I will try some of his newer works and see what I think. I will do my best to keep an open mind and I will report my thoughts if anyone is interested in my input. Take care, and Great Reading folks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading the reviews, I decided, whst the heck OMG! This is by far one of the BEST books that I've read. I literally hsd to make myself put it down. It seemed to start out slow, but I later realized that the beginning was fundamental to the entire storyline. Get this book, you won't rrgret it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wood's first and BEST. It really got me hooked on Woods. I like all I've read, but none compares to "Chiefs" It gets you from the get-go and carries you excitingly through 3 generations. It's the start for Will Lee novels.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Good book. Hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not just a mystery novel but a story of politics in Georgia covering four decades. The plot is masterful and the characters real. I enjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book years ago and sought it out again recently. Not disappointed! It was as good as I remembered and is a book I would recommend to a friend. Good contextual detail, compelling plot, and a reasonable conclusion. Not all the good ‘guys’ win so to speak, but the book provides a satisfying thread in which justice is examined from multiple perspectives. Entertaining and thought provoking — one of those books you hate to see end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But it does show the racial hatred in the south through the sixties. Total fiction story but is real in its description of how tough it was (and still is) for blacks in the south.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book great page-turner. I'm looking forward to other books by this author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Always liked this book the story fits both yesterday and today.This is a man story with all the strength and weakness of humans.Highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
goldieinaz More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best! The story and characters were top notch and I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A superb thriller. Belongs with Grishom, Deavers, Archer, etc. The mini series is worth watching. Too bad Woods later books don't measure up. His stone barrington series borders on trash with soft porn.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago