Sunday, September 30, 2007

Julie's Review: Dirt


It may be his fifth novel in three years, but this slickly entertaining suspenser displays Woods at the top of his game with no signs of flagging. A sizable supporting cast of paparazzi-challenged beautiful people share the action as Stone Barrington, the suave ex-cop attorney-hero of New York Dead, makes his comeback. In this superbly paced tale, Stone gets involved in a blackmail scheme involving Amanda Dart, a much-feared, nationally syndicated gossip columnist. After Amanda is photographed in bed in a Manhattan hotel with a married real-estate magnate, a fax headlined "DIRT" and presenting both the photo and details of Amanda's tryst is sent to a weighty list of prominent people and major media outlets. The DIRT fax-web quickly expands to snare the gay but closeted editor of a sleazy L.A. tabloid. When Stone is hired by Amanda to sniff out who's spilling the pearls about these jealously guarded privacies, one of his operatives, a retired N.Y.C. cop, is murdered. The intrigue deepens when one of the perps is identified as closely resembling a male model in a Vanity Fair cologne ad. Dripping with name-dropping, haute couture and pricey playthings, and spiced with hormonal aerobics as Stone trolls the siren-infested waters of upscale Manhattan, the narrative rockets toward an abrupt but absolutely stunning denouement. Using all his skills here, and subtly reminiscent of the waggish P.G. Wodehouse, Woods delivers a marvelously sophisticated, thoroughly modern old-fashioned read.

I've read several Stuart Woods' books over the past few years. I started late in the Stone Barrington series and have decided to go back to the beginning of the character. This is the 2nd book in the Stone Barrington series and it's an improvement over New York Dead. The story introduces us to a few savory and unsavory characters. The books always start at the restaurant Elaine's at dinner time and the mystery goes from there. Stone is a retired NYPD detective who works as a PI for the law firm Woodman and Weld figuring out who's blackmailing their top clients. This is the first book that introduces us to Arrington Carter, Stone's long term romantic interest. What was interesting about this book is the fact of what goes around comes around. A new tabloid is on the market but only to a select few who receive it by fax and it's poison to those who receive it. In this one I wasn't sure if the character's he introduced were going to be key and I didn't figure it out until Stone started to put them together. I always like figuring it out when they main character does so it doesn't feel like you are waiting for them to play catch up.

Since I started a decent way into this character's life, I'm finding it enjoyable to go back and read about the things I've missed or couldn't figure out. The stories have gotten better and the character has evolved.

Final Take: 3.7/5


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