Yet another typical Woods book. Well, no - that isn't fair. Woods traded in one ego-stroking hobby for another in this bOh boy, where do I even start?
Yet another typical Woods book. Well, no - that isn't fair. Woods traded in one ego-stroking hobby for another in this book. Instead of boasting about his, I mean, Stone Barrington's sexual prowess, we got to hear all about how each of the main characters is well-versed in flying and shooting. If they couldn't pilot an airplane or shoot a gun at the start of the book, they were natural talents who had impressed the person teaching them and were flying and or shooting with ease by the end.
This instalment saw the return of Teddy Faye, who used to work for the CIA. Faye was first introduced in a Holly Barker novel but now generally lives in the Stone Barrington universe since Barker and Faye have a "truce" (because the CIA is known for calling truces with ex-agents who take national secrets, use them to live life as a fugitive, and leave bodies in their wake wherever they go). Since Faye was an agent in charge of coming up with agents' fake IDs, background lives, and disguises when they were working under an assumed identity, he has been able to allude authorities for years. How he's been able to keep up with technology all this time is amazing, as is the fact that neither the FBI nor the CIA has been able to touch his offshore accounts to cut off his only finances. But let's suspend that disbelief and get to the actual plot, shall we?
Teddy ends up working at a tiny gas station in a tiny town in New Mexico for a couple of weeks. In the biggest conincidence ever, wouldn't you know that Peter Barrington (Stone's son), Peter's best friend, and Peter's girlfriend all end up getting a flat tire near that exact gas station. Imagine the odds!
From here, ridiculousness reigns, but getting into too much detail would spoil everything for the next (perhaps unsuspecting) reader or the reader who may actually read Woods' books for the enjoyment and not for the laughs. Let's just say, though, that I literally laughed out loud during not one, but TWO, death scenes and during one alleged "seduction" scene. I also snicked when a new character was introduced because only Woods would be oblivious to the inanity of a character named Emma Tweed, a fashion designer, who hails from London.
One thing is sure, though - Woods' writing shows absolutely no growth. If at all possible, his writing has declined as the series has progressed. His plots are thin, his characters have become charicatures, and the dialogue is stilted and completely implausible. One wonders is Woods has ever heard people in the wild speak to each other or if he's a hermit who merely imagines what conversation much be like....more
I'm not sure why this is classified as a Stone Barrington novel instead of the next installation in the Holly Barker series. Until a little more thanI'm not sure why this is classified as a Stone Barrington novel instead of the next installation in the Holly Barker series. Until a little more than halfway through the book, one would think that Holly (a CIA operative) was the protagonist since Stone only shows up to have sex with her (and once to remind us that he's a pilot, lest we forget). Stone finally shows up, but then he's usually Holly's tag-along as she conducts Official CIA Business, which apparently consists of exchanging stilted dialogue with people (e.g., when approving a new restaurant design at Langley, "It looks great. How soon?" "All the fixtures are available ready-made. Three days?" "Go. Now I have to take a call."). Heck, Stone's best friend Dino (to whom he's usually attached at the hip) doesn't even appear until the tail end of the book, and it's a cameo appearance at best.
For anyone who's read a Stuart Woods book before, bad dialogue is not new. Unfortunately, neither are absurd plot points, which I won't go into here so as to avoid a major spoiler. Just know that what should be most exciting part of the book ends up being laughable. My best guess (from reading all the prior books in the series) is that Woods wrote himself into a corner and had to come up with something absurd to get him out of the situation he was in.
Frankly, I keep reading Woods' books because they're so bad I can't believe that one person can sustain such a poor level of writing. However, Woods continues to prove me wrong with each book he churns out. Stone Barrington is a one-note character who has experienced no growth at all since the series began; he's the most clever attorney who ever lived, he's a pilot, he's extremely sexually active (with multiple partners and absolutely no sign of safe sex precautions), and he has friends in high places (POTUS, CIA contacts, MI6 contacts, etc.). It's clear that Stone is a thinly veiled fictitious version of Stuart Woods -- or at least who Woods wishes he could be.
Woods' books cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called "good." However, this book was poor by even the low standards one measures such books....more