A Broadway actress has a pout to die for, a past to hide from, and Stone Barrington on her case in this page-turning thriller in Stuart Woods’s #1 New York Times bestselling series.
Stone Barrington is back in New York, working on some simple cases for Woodman & Weld when he crosses paths with a aspiring actress and gets a little more involved with show business than he’d expected...
Then the fleecing of a wealthy art dealer’s daughter leads him into the worlds of financial fraud, “Big Art,” and Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where opulent co-op apartments are hung with multimillion-dollar paintings and family scandals never remain hidden for long. No stranger to high society or the foibles of the rich, Stone must now uncover the truth in a world where wealth and beauty sometimes come at the ultimate price.
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.
Hometown:Key West, Florida; Mt. Desert, Maine; New York, New York
Date of Birth:January 9, 1938
Place of Birth:Manchester, Georgia
Education:B.A., University of Georgia, 1959
Read an Excerpt
Stone Barrington and his former NYPD partner, Dino Bacchetti, were dining in the company of herself, Elaine, who, as usual, was making her rounds. “So?” Elaine asked as she joined them.
“Not much,” Dino replied.
Stone was deep into his spaghetti alla carbonara.
“Nice, isn’t it?” she asked. Elaine had a good opinion of her food.
“Mmmmf,” Stone replied, trying to handle what he had stuffed into his mouth and speak at the same time.
“Never mind,” Elaine said. “Enjoy.”
Stone swallowed hard and nodded. “Thank you, I am.”
The waiter came with the wine and poured everybody a glass.
Stone began to take smaller bites, so as to better participate in the conversation. As he took his first sip of wine, he froze.
Dino stared at him. “What’s the matter? Am I gonna have to do a Heimlich?”
Stone set down the glass but said nothing. He was following the entrance of a very beautiful woman. She was probably five-eight or -nine, he thought, and closer to six feet in her heels. She was dressed in a classic Little Black Dress that set off a strand of large pearls around her neck. Fake, probably, but who cared? She had honey-blond, shoulder-length hair and a lot of it, cascades of it, big eyes, and plump lips sporting bright red lipstick. Dino and Elaine followed Stone’s gaze as the woman turned to her left and sat down at the bar.
“She can’t be alone,” Dino said.
“Who is she?” Stone asked Elaine.
“Never saw her in here,” Elaine replied, “but you’d better hurry; she’s not gonna be alone long.”
Stone put down his glass, got up, and walked toward the bar, straightening his tie. Normally, the people at the tables didn’t have much to do with the people at the bar; they were different crowds. But Stone knew when to make an exception.
“Good evening,” he said to her, offering his hand. “My name is Stone Barrington.”
She took the hand and offered a shy smile. “Hello, I’m Carrie Cox,” she said, and her accent was soft and southern.
Stone indicated his table. “My friends Dino and Elaine agree with me that you are too beautiful to be sitting alone at the bar. Will you join us?”
She looked surprised. “Thank you, yes,” she said after a moment’s thought.
Stone escorted her back to the table and sat her down. “Carrie Cox, this is Elaine Kaufman, your hostess, and Dino Bacchetti, one of New York’s Finest.”
“How do you do,” Carrie said. “Finest what?”
“It’s a designation meant to describe any New York City police officer,” Stone said, “without regard for individual quality.”
“Stone should know,” Dino said. “He used to be one of New York’s worst.”
Carrie laughed, a low, inviting sound.
“You must be from out of town,” Dino said.
“Isn’t everybody?” Elaine asked.
“I’ve only been in New York for three weeks,” Carrie said.
“Where you from?” Elaine asked.
“I’m from a little town in Georgia called Delano, but I came here from Atlanta. I lived there for two years.”
“And what brought you to our city?” Stone asked.
“I’m an actress, so after a couple of years of training in Atlanta, it was either New York or L.A. Since it’s spring, I thought I’d start in New York, and if I hadn’t found work by winter, I’d move on to L.A.”
Stone was fascinated by her mouth, which moved in an oddly attractive way when she talked.
“And have you found work yet?”
“Almost immediately,” she said, “but not as an actress. I’ve been working as a lip model.”
“I’m not surprised,” Stone said.
“A lip model?” Dino asked.
“I’ve been modeling lipstick,” she explained, “in the mornings. In the afternoons I’ve been making the rounds, looking for stage work.”
“That’s tough,” Elaine said.
“Well, I’ve had one very attractive offer,” Carrie said, “from a man called Del Wood.”
Stone knew him a little, from a couple of dinner parties. Wood was a king of Broadway, who composed both music and lyrics and who owned his own theater. “The new Irving Berlin,” Stone said, “as he’s often called.”
“Unfortunately,” Carrie said, “the offer came with some very unattractive strings.”
“Ah,” Stone said. “Del Wood has that reputation. He is also known as Del Woodie.”
Carrie laughed. “I can believe it. Do you know what he said to me?”
“I can’t wait to find out,” Dino said, leaning forward.
“He said—and please pardon the language; it’s his, not mine—‘I want to strip off that dress, lay you on your belly, and fuck you in the ass.’ ”
“Oh,” Dino said.
Stone was speechless.
“I was thinking of suing him for sexual harassment,” Carrie said.
“Well,” Dino said, indicating Stone, “meet your new lawyer.”
“Oh, are you a lawyer?” Carrie asked Stone.
“Yes, but I’m not sure you’d have much of a case.”
“Did he force himself on you?”
“No. I got out of there.”
“Were there any witnesses?”
“Then I’m afraid it would be your word against his,” Stone said.
“Well,” Carrie said, “I did get him on tape.”
STONE NEARLY CHOKED on his wine. “That was prescient of you,” he rasped.
“Well, I had heard a little about him,” Carrie replied. “A girl has to protect herself.”
“Certainly,” Stone replied.
“Too fucking right,” Elaine added.
“And by what means did you record him?” Stone asked.
“Small dictator in my open purse on his desk,” Carrie replied. “So, shall I retain you as my attorney and sue the son of a bitch?”
“First things first,” Stone said. “What may I get you to drink, and will you have some dinner?”
“Thank you, a Knob Creek on the rocks, please, and no, I’m not hungry, having already dined—partially, anyway.”
Stone ordered the drink. “And what do you mean by having dined ‘partially’?”
“Well, a friend, a stage manager, invited me to a very nice dinner party being given by a well-known actress. We arrived a little late, and to my surprise, I found myself seated next to Mr. Del Wood, who couldn’t keep his hands to himself. Having fought that off in the afternoon—something the other diners seemed to be aware of—I tried to make conversation, but then Mr. Woodie interrupted me and announced for all to hear that the offer he had made me that afternoon was still open. He was beginning to explain to everyone what the offer was when I tipped his dinner plate into his lap—we were having spaghetti Bolognese—then I got up, offered my thanks to my hostess, and left.”
“Wow,” Dino said. “I wish I’d been there for that.”
“So do I,” Stone said. “Perhaps you’d like dessert, Carrie?”
“Thank you. Perhaps I would.”
Elaine grabbed a passing waiter and ordered up the dessert tray. Normally, she would have moved to another table by then, but she seemed to be enjoying the conversation.
The waiter appeared, and Carrie chose a crème brûlée.
“How many people were at the dinner party, and were they all theater people?”
“Twelve, and yes, they were actors, composers, producers, the works. I was rather looking forward to doing myself some good there, but Old Woodie spoiled that.”
“Well,” Stone said, “by lunchtime tomorrow you will be famous among a certain level of the Broadway cognoscenti; people will be dining out on that story for weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it made the gossip columns.”
“Would that be a good thing?” Carrie asked.
“Good for everybody but Mr. Woodie,” Stone replied. “You’ll be immediately famous, as long as they spell your name right.”
“What part did he offer you?”
“The lead in his new musical.”
Stone was stunned. “The lead? What sort of audition did you do?”
“I sang ‘I Loves You Porgy’ from Porgy and Bess and a Sond heim tune, ‘I’m Still Here,’ and I danced a little. This was in the theater.”
“And he let you get all the way through the two songs?”
“Yes, and there were a dozen or so people sitting in the orchestra seats who all stood up and applauded. That’s when Mr. Wood invited me up to his office to talk.”
“That sounds like something out of a movie about a Broadway show,” Stone said. “Small-town girl shows up in the big city and wows everybody at her first audition.”
“Well, it wasn’t my first audition,” Carrie said. “I had to audition for the lip modeling, too.”
“And who did you have to kiss?” Dino asked.
“A mirror. I didn’t mind that; a mirror has no hands.” Her crème brûlée arrived, and she did it justice.
“Coffee?” Stone asked
“A double espresso, please.”
“No trouble sleeping?” Stone asked.
“No trouble at all,” she replied, giving him a little smile that made those beautiful lips enchanting again. “The benefit of a clear conscience.”
“Always a good thing to have,” Stone said. “Tell me, do you remember the names of the people at the dinner party?”
“Most of them. My date, Tony, will know them all.”
“And have their addresses?”
“Yes, I think so. They were all his friends.”
“First thing tomorrow morning you should write little notes to those people, expressing your regret for having to depart the party and say how sorry you were that you didn’t have time to get to know them better. Start with your hostess.”
“Just to remind them who I am?”
“Exactly, and please be sure your address, phone number, and cell number are clearly printed on your letterhead. If the letters don’t get you other auditions, they will, at least, get you some dinner invitations—dinners Mr. Wood will not be attending.”
“What a good idea, Stone,” she said. “Now, will you be my attorney so that I can sue Mr. Woodie?”
“I’m afraid I have a serious conflict of interest that would prevent my representing you. However, I’d be happy to give you some free advice and to recommend an appropriate attorney.”
“What’s the conflict of interest?” Carrie asked.
“I am so impressed with your beauty, your intelligence, and your quick wit that I would much rather take you out to dinner than take you to court.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Stone Barrington, of counsel at Woodman & Weld, is at Elaine's restaurant in Manhattan when he notices beautiful Carrie Cox who is in New York with dreams of becoming an actress. After she tells Stone about a great audition she had with a director who tried to rape her afterward so she threw his dinner onto his lap at a gala they both attended separately. Stone advises her how to handle the situation; she soon gets the part and a great agent. Stone and Carrie like each other's company, but he has to place his personal life on hold when Bill Eggers wants him to get Hildy Parsons out of trouble. Her father is a client at Woodman & Weld and knows his daughter is involved with a gigolo who anxiously waits for her trust fund to revert back to her control. Stone learns the con artist is also dealing drugs and partnered with Larsen who is managing a Ponzi scheme. They become Stone's problem when someone he cares about wants to bring them down. Making matters more dangerous is Carrie believes her former husband is trying to kill her; she needs protection that she wants only from Stone until they obtain proof of her assertion. Although Stone proves there are a zillion stories in New York even in one novel, Stuart Woods provides another exhilarating Barrington tale filled with serial sex, plenty of other action, and several fun investigations. After Key West (see Loitering with Intent), Stone vows divorce cases only, but he wonders how he got so involved in so many other matters though he knows the exhausting answer is women, women, and more women. Kisser is a fun lighthearted Stone Barrington thriller as the lawyer finds the mean streets of Manhattan as both welcoming and dangerous. Harriet Klausner
This is the worst Stone Barrington book ever. I really enjoy the series but this one was awful. It was boring and slow moving. I usually don't mind Stone's sexual antics, but in this one he was shagging anything that stood still long enough. Terrible plot line and poor character development. Was Stuart Woods on a strict deadline ... this one was not up to par.
I was a Stuart Woods fan until I read this book. I was appalled by the filthy language and x-rated content in this book, and I would not recommend it to anyone. Stone Barrington needs to climb out of the gutter, clean up, or loose all your fans!!
Just another Stone Barrington book--more sex, less story.
I've read most of Stuart Woods' books and this is THE WORST. First, the editing was horrible, leaving an ending that made no sense. Stone is always falling into bed with some gorgeous woman or other, but this book read like a men's magazine fantasy forum. The storylines were also lacking in suspense: you knew how it was going to turn out from the beginning. If you have absolutely nothing else to read, go ahead, but if you have anything else to do, skip this one.
I pre-ordered this book, only to see it didn't even LEAVE B&N at 9pm, a full 21 hours after the release. It is now apparently on a s-l-o-w snail from New Jersey. Why would anyone EVER pre-order a book from B&N? I can find it cheaper at my local Costco and I could have had it 4 days sooner!
Stone Barrington is at it again, but this time with a lot more sexual escapades. Right off the bat, Stone meets a rising Broadway starlet and immediately makes his conquest by offering to protect this damsal in distress, or is she? While working for Woodman and Weld, Stone meets more women and the fun begins. The villians are a crazy ex-husband, a Broadway producer, an Art Gallery Owner and his daughter, a wanna-be Picaso and a Bernie Madoff type investment scam. Dino, as usual, has his back. Eduardo and family resurface. The police department needs Stone's help. When he gets a temporary badge, he isn't very happy. With his retirement at stake, and a stalker on his street, you will enjoy the ride to see how it all turns out. Mr. Woods characters are at their best, eating, drinking, and well....you know.........
I have read most of Mr. Woods' books and have enjoyed the majority of these. However, "Kisser" is a waste of time. I quit reading on page 126 due to lack of interest and will not keep it in my library nor will I donate it to the library. I can appreciate the use of the f... and the s... bomb when it fits the characters and the realism of the story; but, to frequently and randomly toss them in where they do not fit is a silly attempt at shock value. The main character's,Stone Barrington's, inability to be introduced to any female without being in bed for wild sex before you reach the bottom of the page gets absurd as a recurring theme chapter after chapter. Mr. Woods, please re-read your earlier works and go back to what made you suscessful.
I'm still reading Kisser. I'm waiting for it to get better. Maybe Stuart/Dino should go back to the Keys, those were fun reads. Sorry. I'm not going to finish reading this one.. It's going back to the library.....
There is nothing terribly new in this latest in Wood's vast collection but,as always, it's well worth the read.
A lot of repetition and too many trips to Elaines!
Stone Barrington is back again with an exciting assignment involving several interlinked challenges. A very enjoyable quick read.
This book left me flat, the sex is ridiculous and boring after a time. I am no prude but this guy cannot be real. He never ever uses protection? No mention of it, just goes around doing anybody anytime. I usually enjoy the escape aspect of Woods' novels, but this one didn't even come close.
As a long term reader and collector of Mr. Woods' writings, it is always fun to read his works. Recently he has become more "boiler plate" than original. It is almost easier to refer to former books for more of the same. However, "Kisser" is better. Since the author was "asked" to write three books a year rather than two, he has become too much of the same, but herein is a good read. "Hothouse" and "Kisser" show more sexual maturity and grit than his early works, I am sure there is some compatibility between his private life and his public writing. Whatever, "Kisser" is fun, fast and more enjoyable than last years' works. Keep it up and though I enjoy his books, I think two is better than three a year.
The basic story and characters were good, but it reads too much like a trashy romance novel, to the point of absurdity. This is not Stone Barrington at his best.
I think Stuart Woods is a great author but........this book is not good. To much detail on Stone's sex life. I was looking forward to a good mystery but all I got was a lot of pron.
I have read all the Stone Barrington books by Stuart Woods and while not heavy reading they were all good. There was so much gratutious sex in the KISSER it was hard to find the plot. I am not a prude by any means and I know Stone likes his sex but come on! Let's hope Lucid Intervals coming out in April has a better plot
The main character, Stone Barrington, is a retired police detective turned lawyer. He loves women and sleeps with every one he meets. Then he complains about being tired. His women are all beautiful. I don't know if they really are or their beauty is just in his mind. His case is to protect an heiress from succumbing to a con artist. He also has to figure out who is stalking a new girlfriend. A third woman is found watching his apartment. The first two issues are resolved while the third is left open. This part of the story must continue in his next book. The book was easy to read. The characters had fun with sarcasm and humor. Stone reminded me of old-time detectives who liked their women easy and fun.I could have used less of these easy women.
waste of money. this was an old book and should have said so.
I really enjoy all of the Stone Barrington Series.
Not necessarily a bad thi ng. Lots of good food, good dialogue and easy to read story
Another enjoyable read. Stone Barrington is always a good story.
Woods melds Barrington, Barker, Lee & Eagle in such a manner that they flow together as if one continuing story. All are must reads!