DIRTY WORK by Stuart Woods is the ninth book in his popular Stone
Barrington series that follows quickly on the heels of SHORT
FOREVER, which began his foray into the world of espionage. Thus,
series fans who enjoy Woods's continuing characters and familiar
settings, yet wish to stretch the genre occasionally, will be able
to have their cake and eat it too.
DIRTY WORK is kind of what Stone Barrington, cop-turned-lawyer,
usually does, being of counsel to the prestigious firm of Woodman
and Weld. He takes the cases that might not "look good" for a firm
of such snooty stature. So cases that involve the drug dealing kids
of wealthy clients or the straying spouse of a political cohort are
given to Stone, along with a hefty fee, of course.
This time the case involves a simple extracurricular sex snoop. He
is to obtain evidence that proves an important client's husband is
being unfaithful, thus allowing her to wiggle out of a prenuptial
agreement. Of course, Stone is not going to hide in the closet and
photograph the tryst, so he hires the nephew of an old friend to do
the deed. Unfortunately, Herbie Fisher is not a top quality snoop;
he falls through the skylight while taking his pictures, lands on
the wayward husband and kills him…or so he thinks.
This puts Stone in a very awkward position, seriously jeopardizing
his standing with Woodman and Weld as their go-to guy. So, he
embarks on an adventure that plunges him into the murky world of
espionage and a trail of bodies that began more than a decade ago
in Switzerland and continues at a deadly pace right up to Stone's
front door. This is a world where the "good guys" commit atrocities
and the "bad guys" become admirable and where a female Jackal, who
eludes capture and pursues her treacherous quest for revenge, is
portrayed as more sympathetic than the determined agent who is out
to stop her.
Stuart Woods has established himself as one of the all-time great
storytellers, with never a wasted word or a rambling detour to
sidetrack the action. We sometimes fail to pay tribute to the
fertile minds of prolific authors who continue to create story
after story to keep us entertained. DIRTY WORK is definitely
entertaining, even if you have to drag yourself out of the more
comfortable black and white world of straight mysteries where you
can more easily detect who the bad guys are.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on January 21, 2011