Unbound – or just untethered?

Unbound, by Stuart Woods. Putnam. 318 pages. Hardcover $28.00.

What do you call a Stone Barrington Novel in which Barrington’s role is severely diminished? Some might call it edgy and inventive. I call it an unnecessary gamble – unless the author is toying with the idea of development a new series focused on the film industry.  

The central figure in Unbound is a former CIA operative once known as Teddy Fay, who has also established an identity for himself as Ted Shirley. Teddy has been long established as a Hollywood producer named Billy Barnett, his CIA days relevant only in terms of special skills he can bring to bear to suit special circumstances.

The special circumstance here is Teddy’s need revenge himself upon the husband of the looney woman who killed Teddy’s wife in a hit and run. It helps of the man is in general an SOB who ruins the lives of almost anyone he deals with. Such a man is Dax Baxter, a movie industry climber whose path would be likely to cross with Teddy’s anyway. In fact, Teddy – incognito movie business Jack of all trades Ted Shirley – easily attaches himself to a Dax Baxter project.

Stuart Woods

The scenes that follow the “Ted Shirley” escapade not only bring Teddy in proximity to his unwitting nemesis, but develop engaging insights about how movie deals – and actual movies – are made. Indeed, they reveal how careers are made in a cutthroat world in which loyalty is bought and sold.

The still-grieving Teddy travels to Santa Fe where he spends time with good friends Stone Barrington and Ed Eagle. Suddenly, “Unbound” feels like a Stone Barrington novel for a while: the gorgeous woman, the gorgeous residences, the lifestyles of the wealthy, and the networks of power. It doesn’t take Teddy long to rebound from his sadness and latch onto an attractive new lady friend named Sally Ryder. It hasn’t taken Stone Barrington long, following the death of his wife, to develop a new, hot relationship with the appropriately wealthy and exotic Anastasia Bounine.

Some guys are just lucky, I guess.

This thread of the novel, familiar Stuart Woods territory, allows us to imagine the pleasures of exclusivity. However, plot development lags as Barrington has little to do besides offer Teddy advice and favors. . . .

To read the full review, as it appears in the March 1, 2018 Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Unbound

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