Having ditched her Orchid Beach, Fla., police chief post, returning supersleuth Holly Barker opts for a CIA career in Woods's by-the-numbers thriller, the fourth in the Barker series (Blood Orchid). Barely through basic training at a highly regimented CIA "training farm," Barker's class is suddenly enlisted to track down calculating killer (and opera buff) Teddy Fay (first seen in Woods's Capital Crimes). An ex-CIA agent himself, Fay uses insider information to continue assassinating international political figures who also happen to be enemies of the U.S. Barker stakes out the Metropolitan Opera House, and narrowly misses Teddy in disguise in several contrived set pieces. The narrative accelerates from a somewhat sluggish first half when CIA operatives' solid deliberation moves Barker ever closer to nabbing the elusive Fay who, by the way, lives mere blocks away from her. But Fay dupes the CIA again, with the help of a Santa Claus costume, and assassinates a Saudi prince before vanishing. Woods's latest lacks the urgent plotting and bracing thrills needed to make it truly memorable, and though Barker is a tough, formidable protagonist, the question remains why she, after absconding with over $5.5 million in untraceable drug money, bothers to clock in at all. Only Barker's dog, Daisy the Doberman, knows for sure. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Orchid Beach cop Holly Barker has joined the CIA, and she's after Teddy Fay, who was once CIA himself but now wipes out various political figures for fun. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Now that she's exhausted the criminal permutations of Orchid Beach (Fla.) and Stone Barrington's New York City (Reckless Abandon, 2004), police chief Holly Barker enlists in Woods's third franchise: fighting President Will Lee's nemesis, a political assassin who's crazy like a fox. Teddy Fay is on the loose again. Run to earth by government agents wise to his scheme to execute right-wing politicians (Capital Crimes, 2003), he's faked his death, gone to earth in the Big Apple and set up shop with a new mission: killing his nation's enemies. Holly, who's quit her Orchid Beach gig to join the CIA, has her hands full fooling the Agency's polygraph experts about the $5.76 million she just stashed in the Caymans and standing up to a fight instructor who implies that she's a lesbian. She finds out about Teddy only after he blows up Iranian terrorist Ali Hakim and her trainee group is improbably dismissed from class several weeks early and packed off to New York. There follows a series of cat-and-cat encounters in which Teddy, in heavy disguise, keeps accosting Holly, who keeps recognizing him moments after it's too late to catch him. Holly gets her ashes hauled once by Stone, and Teddy several times by Irene Foster, his inside source in the CIA, while they're waiting for the next Middle East assassin or spy to meet his quietus. The real drama here, however, is the complete absence of anything like narrative development. Woods has borrowed from Walt Disney a form of mutually reinforcing franchise advertising whereby the only thing that happens in each installment is a series of plugs for all the others. The non-conclusion hints broadly that Holly and Teddy could go on chasing each other forever.A sitcom approach to international intrigue in which paper dolls from Woods's previous work keep slipping into new outfits as insubstantial as they are.
Praise for Iron Orchid
“A page-turner...Readers will root for Barker.”—Associated Press
“A compelling and entertaining cat and mouse caper.”—Midwest Book Review
More Praise for Stuart Woods
“Stuart Woods is a no-nonsense, slam-bang storyteller.”—Chicago Tribune
“A world-class mystery writer...I try to put Woods’s books down and I can’t.”—Houston Chronicle
“Mr. Woods, like his characters, has an appealing way of making things nice and clear.”—The New York Times
“Woods certainly knows how to keep the pages turning.”—Booklist
“Since 1981, readers have not been able to get their fill of Stuart Woods’ New York Times bestselling novels of suspense.”—Orlando Sentinel