Family Jewels, by Stuart Woods. Putnam. 320 pages. Hardcover $28.00.
Readers recalling my early December review of Stuart Woods’ Foreign Affairs might wonder why I’m commenting so soon on another installation in the Stone Barrington series. I exercised some self-control by not reviewing Mr. Woods’ Scandalous Behavior in January, but these novels are just so much fun, I can’t skip this newest offering.
Family Jewels opens with Stone channeling Bogie and Bacall when his secretary Joan introduces him to the tall and slim Carrie Fiske, she of low-pitched voice and big money pedigree. She who had the moxie not to make an appointment. She whose ex-husband is stalking her and wishes to enlarge their settlement agreement.
It’s not clear how much trouble Carrie is in or what Stone can do to help her, but they decide he will provide a new will for her immediately so that her ex, the beneficiary of her present will, doesn’t inherit at her death — and that he has less motive for murder. Stone also assigns his associate, Fred Flicker, to protect Carrie.
Soon enough, the ex — Harvey Biggers — shows up, and Fred gets rid of him the old fashioned way, cracking his nose with a head butt.
Then Harvey appears at Stone’s office, trying to hire him and insisting that it’s Carrie who wants to kill him, not the other way around.
Visiting his new client at her ritzy East Hampton home, Stone meets her friends Nicky and Vanessa Chalmers and Derek and Alicia Bedford. It’s all high-society and money talk, some of it focusing on Derek’s business of buying and selling jewelry. He plans to help Carrie turn some of her huge collection of jewelry into cash.
When a bad smell leads to a dead body at the residence where Carrie’s friends are staying, Stone connects with his buddy Dino, the NYC police commissioner, and gets that investigation under way. Soon he’s also lawyering for Jim Carlton, a movie director who owns the house.
Carrie then disappears for a while, leaving Stone in charge of Bob, her friendly dog. He soon finds out the murdered girl was a prostitute who was with Harvey at a New Year’s Eve party at Jim’s house.
While the author’s build-up of characters and creepiness is effective, the novel goes into high gear when the history of a certain rare jewelry item — and the chase to obtain it — takes over.
This thread takes us on a fascinating journey back to Holocaust history, as a key and rarified piece of jewelry that once decorated Herman Goering’s wife had, over the decades, made its way into Carrie’s overabundant collection. As the saying goes, you could die for it. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the April 6, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the April 7 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter, and Palm Beach/West Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Family Jewels