A Stone Barrington Novel
By Stuart Woods
Putnam Adult, Lage Print Edition (2010), 405 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - May 3, 2010
Stuart Woods' Stone Barrington books are known for their delightful, humorous, crisp writing, quirky characters, beautiful women, lots of sex, and Stone sailing through episodes with cleverness and luck. His friend, the police detective Dino, usually gets involved, and the two are usually eating supper at Elaine's, with Stone generally drinking a Knob Creek on the rocks, Dino a "princely Scotch," and Elaine complaining about something. All very familiar and predictable, like a Jack Benny routine, and a lot of fun to read. This book is no exception. An example of the writing style and the sex is:
"When did you arrive in New York?"
"About an hour before dinner," she replied, "and I am quite shattered. I've been traveling since dawn this morning, London time."
"Then we must put you right to bed," Stone said.
She placed a hand on the inside of his thigh and squeezed lightly. "I should bloody well hope so."
The woman is Felicity Devonshire, a lovely high official of British intelligence. Felicity hires Stone to find an ex-British-intelligence officer without telling him why, and parks herself in Stone's bed every night until the job is done. The job is not easy because the agent does not want to be found and he is an expert in disguises.
There are other women, of course. Stone's ex-wife Dolce is determined to kill him and almost slices Felicity with a knife. Stone attends a dinner given by the British Ambassador and is propositioned by the Ambassador's wife, who is quite persistent. He is also propositioned by an assistant DA, but has to put it off for a couple of weeks because Felicity is still around. Then when Felicity is not around, he finds another woman. "He didn't see why he should spend his evening in London alone."
Then there are the quirky clients. Herbie Fisher from a previous Woods novel reappears. He just won millions in a lottery and feels certain that someone wants to kill him. Herbie fulfils all the requirements to be a meshugana, schlemiel, and a schlimazel, a fool that became a lawyer by means of an internet course, an idiot who wants to marry a prostitute without a pre-nuptial agreement, a dupe who supposes he can hit a police officer because he has money, a boy-man with only lucid intervals. He gets into problem after problem and, although Stone does not want the job, he saves him repeatedly because of a million dollar retainer. Stone needs to defend him against a murder charge.
Then there is the suspect, a man who might be the ex-agent, who wants to hire Stone to represent him for an enormous fee, including giving him a jet plane.
All in all, this is a fast paced, ever-interesting, delightful novel, whose last 50 pages are quite exciting, a more than 70 pages an hour hard to put down book that readers need not take seriously, but enjoy for lots of fun.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.