Latest Stone Barrington novel purrs like a well-tuned dream machine

Foreign Affairs, by Stuart Woods. Putnam. 320 pages. Hardcover $27.95.

One reason you will turn these pages quickly is because of the high excitement level. Another is because the chapters are short and the spacing between lines is large. It’s easy on the eyes, just like the female characters that Mr. Wood conjures up. The 35th title in his Stone Barrington series, this outing shows the comfortable craft and audience knowledge of a pro who has published over 60 novels. ForeignAffairs_high-res

Unexpectedly, Stone is called to meet his business partners in Rome. While boarding the flight, he finds a beautiful young traveling companion who before long is a serious flirtation. Hedy Kiesler turns out to be the stepdaughter of a wealthy man with whom Stone does business. The flirtation continues until Hedy is kidnapped either for ransom or for leverage against Stone and his associates.

Italian mafia types do not want Stone’s people to put up a new luxury hotel without paying and paying and paying. Planned accidents and other threats and mishaps meant to interfere with the hotel construction lead to a nasty battle of wits and weapons. The major interference is a fire that practically destroys the building that Stone and his associates mean to remodel into the luxury hotel.

The plot is fashioned to exploit how and where the wealthy and fashionable travel and have fun. With and without Hedy, Stone’s situation takes him to Paris and to the Amalfi coast area. Lavish estates, gorgeous hotels, desirable automobiles, and sumptuous meals are normal in the circles in which Stone moves. He even has an exquisite private jet that he pilots himself. That sure helps out when you’re in a hurry.

What also helps, when things get sticky, is to be part owner of a premier security firm. Amazing how armed manpower and high tech gadgetry can open doors, assure safety, and get things done for you.

Woods

Woods

Mr. Woods creates a world in which such things are the Stone Barrington norm, though it’s hard for readers to be envious when they are taken on such an attractive trip. How does this work? By making Stone seem like a regular guy – which in many ways he is.

And yet, who else can travel and vacation with New York City’s police commissioner? Who else has buddies in the highest ranks of government? Even a president who will do him personal favors? Who else would or could encounter a Catholic Cardinal who wholeheartedly and with great force joins his fight against the highest echelons of Italian mobsters?

Who else would be able to get the meaningful cooperation of Italian law enforcement, so often susceptible to being bought out by the criminal overlords? . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the December 2, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the December 3 Naples, Fort Myers, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach/West Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Woods

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