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Orchid Beach (Holly Barker #1)

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,247 Ratings  ·  287 Reviews
New York Times bestselling author Stuart Woods delivers a riveting thriller that introduces an exciting addition to the pantheon of fictional sleuths. Forced into early retirement at thirty-seven, smart, attractive, and fiercely independent Major Holly Barker trades in her bars as a military cop for the badge of deputy chief of police in Orchid Beach, Florida. But below th ...more
Paperback, 406 pages
Published April 24th 2007 by HarperPrism (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

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Freda Malone
Mar 16, 2015 Freda Malone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Orchid Beach starts out with Holly Barker, a 38 year old female Army MP Major, charging the Provost Marshal with attempted rape. There is a quick overview of the case, and just as quickly, the Colonel is acquitted. Immediately following this story is a meeting with Holly Barker, her father, Hamilton Barker and a Vietnam army buddy of Ham's, Chet Marley. At first glance, I thought this was going to be a book about the Army and a continuous stream of attempted rape cases or rape itself. When it wa ...more
Nov 13, 2007 Melissa rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: not necessarily anyone yet
Shelves: mysteries
This is the first book in the Holly Barker series which has potential, but I'm not convinced of it yet. What really put me off was the overwhelming theme of sex-gone-bad. When the book starts, the military police officer Holly has just lost a sexual harassment case against her boss, a General, I believe. It even got to the point where he had apparently tried to rape her. But now she's moving on...until in her new role as Deputy Sheriff (or something like that), she stumbles upon a big mystery... ...more
Dec 04, 2008 Catten rated it liked it
Stuart Woods has been knocking out suspense fiction for awhile now; I believe Orchid Beach made number 19 in the fiction category for him. If you’re looking for another mystery author to add to your list, don’t miss this one.

Woods has a clever way with setting, and the small island community in Florida called Orchid Beach is very tangible. As characters visit different parts of the town, the reader is given a good look at the location and its recognizable features.

The plot swerves delightfully,
Jun 05, 2008 Kerry rated it really liked it
Because I have read a later books with this character in it (Holly Barker) it was nice to go back and read from the beginning to see what she's all about and where she came from. I have two more Holly Barker books to read before catching up to the ones I've already read. My first Holly Barker book was one where she appeared in one of the Stone Barrington character books. I'm looking forward to reading the other two Barker books now - funny how the author did that (to introduce her and hook all t ...more
Mar 21, 2012 Lyndsy rated it really liked it
I like the main character, Holly Barker. It's nice to see him write a female lead character. Woods does an okay job building up her character, but I dislike how quickly things move for her with respect to some aspects of her personal life. It's missing a bit of development. Of course, these aren't romance novels, but if you're going to throw it in, do it right.

I also really like that her dad's a part of the books. I think it'll add some fun people dynamics to it. Parents ALWAYS complicate things
Sep 19, 2013 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The first 100 pages I found somewhat boring. Everything worked out too neatly and conveniently. I didn’t understand the characters from an emotional stand point. It was if they just said “Oh, that’s sad. Let’s take just a moment and now we are over it.” If a good friend died then I couldn’t move into their house that same day.

I have issues with Holly. The book starts out with her accusing someone of sexual harassment. Then, later she is almost raped. Another woman is raped and way too many deta
Nov 04, 2011 Paula rated it really liked it
Great story and characters by Woods, as usual. His books are always a good read, and I really liked this new character. The dog is pretty cool too. I don't want to give anything away, but the tail end of this book was quite shocking (to me), and I totally didn't see it coming. It left me feeling kind of sad and betrayed ... like, Hey, Stuart, was that really necessary?! However, I enjoyed the writing more than enough to read subsequent books in the series, all of which are a great escape. Woods ...more
Vonn New
Aug 06, 2012 Vonn New rated it it was ok
I enjoyed Police Chief Holly Barker's straight-forward communication style but the plot lacked subtlety and the characters were predictable. Daisy, the dog, had the potential to be a more interesting character, but was never developed. Because I have family who live near the geographic location of Orchid Beach, I was interested in the way the setting would be portrayed. The author missed his opportunity to describe the cloying heat, the smells of the marsh, the sounds along Jungle Trail, and gen ...more
Jan 16, 2011 Debby rated it really liked it
Orchid Beach is the first book in Stuart Woods' "Holly Barker police/murder series. I've been a fan of Stuart Woods way back to the first book I read of his, Chiefs, Under the Lake and White Cargo, in the 1980's. I really like Woods' writing style and the characters in his books. I think I developed my love of high energy and edgy police/crime mysteries from reading Stuart Woods, Ed McBain and Robert B. Parker.
So, I highly recommend you check out Stuart Woods' numerous series and novels at: htt
Feb 04, 2012 NayNay rated it really liked it
Lets start by saying I love Stuart Woods Stone Barrington series, now that said lets talk ORCHID BEACH. The plot progresses quickly with hardly a moment to catch your breath, it was a fast paced mystery, the setting was appealing, and the best is Daisy, Holly's dog, the animal actually adds humour to the story. But what I feel is that Woods is trying to make Holly the female version of Stone.
All-in-all the story went from A to B, solid mystery, good characters. I think ORCHID BEACH qualifies as
Jul 04, 2016 Nolan rated it liked it
Shelves: nls-audio
Holly Barker isn’t someone you want to mess with, and she’s not going to suffer fools. Finishing a military career, Holly takes a job as an assistant chief with the police department in Orchid Beach, Florida. When she arrives, she finds that her new boss has been shot, and he’s not expected to recover. But he took great pains to ensure that she would be named chief in the event of his death, and his care and preparation would prove helpful to her when he dies, as he ultimately does early in the ...more
Orchid Beach by Stuart Woods is the first book of the Holly Barker series set in contemporary Florida. Holly Barker has just retired from her military career, after losing a sexual harassment case. She dines with her father and Chet Marley, one of his best friends from combat days. Marley is chief of police in Orchid Beach, Florida. He's in the process of investigating his own staff, and needs a trusted right-hand assistant, so he offers Holly the job of deputy chief. She's ready for a complete ...more
Mar 30, 2016 John added it
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May 15, 2015 Nancy added it
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Jenny Mandeville
Great storyline, will definitely read more in this series!
Feb 19, 2009 tomlinton rated it really liked it
The style almost stopped me
early in the opening
but once the story took hold
who paid attention
to style
It's a page turner
made more interesting
because I've been along that road
through connected barrier islands
although I never quite found
that fabled compound
Holly Barker, a retired MP, took the Deputy Police Chief's position in Orchard Beach, FL, moving there from Virginia. Her father, Ham Barker, served in Vietnam with the Chief, Chet Marley and another friend living there, Hank Doherty. She arrived at the Police Station to start the first day only to find that Chief Marley has been shot the evening before and later dies of his wound. It seems Chief Marley had discovered that something was not right at the exclusive Palmetto Gardens with its walled ...more
Terry Odell
Jun 18, 2009 Terry Odell rated it liked it
Picked this up after reading a bunch of Stone Barrington books to see how Woods handled writing a female protagonist. He didn't. Story had some interest, but the writing was flat.
Apr 08, 2012 Jannene rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
The story was riveting. It had me from chapter one. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters. The suspense had my heart racing. I never could predict the ending and I love Daisy!!
Feb 28, 2015 Kshydog rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrea Corley
Title: Orchid Beach
Author: Stuart Woods
Narrator: Debra Monk
Length: Unabridged; 5 hours 29 minutes
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published: August 1998
Genres: Fiction; Mystery

Visit my review/blog HERE!

My Rating:

New York Times bestselling author Stuart Woods delivers a riveting thriller that introduces an exciting addition to the pantheon of fictional sleuths.
Forced into early retirement at thirty-seven, smart, attractive, and fiercely independent Major Holly Barker trades in her bars as a milit
Jenene W.
Great start to this series!
May 09, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
I've read this book a couple of times now. It is just as good as the first time.

Holly is a character that I can really get behind and root for. She is well-rounded and I like that she doesn't fit the typical female stereotype for a main character. She is fiesty.

I really like her father, Ham. His name makes me smile every time. He is badass without coming across as cocky. He's knowledgeable and is just the right support for Holly when she needs it.

Definitely reading the other in the series.
Michelle Bacon
Apr 24, 2015 Michelle Bacon rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The first installment of Chief Holly Barker's adventures. WOW! This was an intense read. Starts off a little slow with a trial for rape that doesn't go in Holly's favor to a couple murders that sends Holly on a trail for a mole withing her ranks and a curious set up of an exclusive "living area" that is pretty much it's own little town within a town. Holly uncovers some very interesting information that drives her to investigate Palmetto Gardens just a little more.
This book had me very curious
Tom Barnes
Jan 01, 2009 Tom Barnes rated it really liked it

Holly Barker grew up as a military brat, got hooked on her father’s trade and climbed through the military ranks and OCS to major in charge of a military police division. Her immediate superior, a West Point grad, tried to woo the attractive major and when that didn’t work he attempted to rape her.
Holly filed harassment and attempted rape charges but lost out to the old boy’s and West Point collegiality club.
Holly retired from the army and was hired by an old army buddy of her father’s as Deput
Shelley aka Gizmo's Reviews
Synopsis: Smart, attractive, and fiercely independent, Major Holly Barker, the army-brat daughter of a master sergeant, has been forced into early retirement at thirty-seven as the result of a scandalous sexual harassment case. With the help of her father, she makes the move to civilian life, becoming deputy chief of police in Orchid Beach, Florida, a small beach town.

But below the calm, sunny surface of this sleepy, well-to-do coastal island city lies a web of evil and deceit that escalates whe
Jun 09, 2013 Will rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
1st Holly Barker novel; Palmetto Gardens Part I. Holly survives the courts martial acquittal of COL Bruno, retires from the Army and accepts Deputy Police Chief job in Orchid Beach. Her boss Chet is murdered the night before she starts work, and she knows there is a mole in the department but nothing else. She quickly watches as an arrest is made for the murder and then flops, and starts boning the defense counsel Jackson. She begins to suspect that her troubles are linked to an exclusive develo ...more
Oct 09, 2009 Karschtl rated it really liked it
When looking for some reading material for my new eReader, I came across this book. Since I already have another book from this series, I thought I should first read the first part (I hate reading book series not in the chronological order).

Stuart Woods doesn't bother with much foreplay, he throws you right into the action. Holly Barker leaves the army after she loses the trial against her boss who sexually harrassed her and takes on a job as a deputy police chief in a small town in Florida. And
May 01, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it
#1 in the Holly Barker series. Quick moving, fast reading novel. In #4 of the series, Holly meets Stone Barrington and after #5 Hothouse Orchid (2009), Holly appears solely, but frequently, in the Stone Barrington series.

Holly Barker takes early retirement as an MP major to become police chief of Orchid Beach, FL, and investigate the murder of the chief who hired her.

Sep 02, 2013 Marty rated it really liked it
. Major Holly Barker, discouraged after loosing a sexual harassment case, retires from the Marine Corps. She had been in military police and in charge of a large detachment of MPS in the Marine Corps. One of her father’s old marine buddies was now the police chief of Orchid Beach, Florida, and offers her the position of Vice Chief of the small town. He told her that he suspected that there was a leak in his force and that he did not trust some of his offiers. On her arrival she finds the chief h ...more
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Stuart Woods 9 25 Dec 25, 2012 07:49PM  
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Stuart Woods is the author the New York Times-bestselling Stone Barrington series and Holly Barker series. He is an avid private pilot, flying his own jet on book tours. You may see his tour schedule and learn more about the author on his website.

More about Stuart Woods...

Other Books in the Series

Holly Barker (6 books)
  • Orchid Blues (Holly Barker, #2)
  • Blood Orchid (Holly Barker #3)
  • Reckless Abandon (Stone Barrington, #10 Holly Barker #4)
  • Iron Orchid (Holly Barker, #5)
  • Hothouse Orchid (Holly Barker, #6)

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