Review

Kisser: A Stone Barrington Novel

by Stuart Woods

Stone Barrington’s appeal as a handsome big city attorney
continues in Stuart Wood’s new novel, KISSER. At
Elaine’s, his favorite New York City restaurant, Barrington
meets Carrie Cox, an aspiring actress and singer intent on landing
a big Broadway musical part. In the meantime, she works as a
lipstick model for an advertising agency. As a virile, good-looking
man, Barrington is exploited by Woods, both in comic relief during
tight circumstances and in thematic dramatization.

Now an independent lawyer, Barrington accepts cases from a
well-heeled law firm in New York. He is solicited to represent
their client, Philip Parsons, a wealthy art dealer and gallery
owner, on a personal matter. His daughter, Hildy, will turn 25 soon
and thus will have access to her trust fund. She is in a live-in
relationship with artist Derek Sharpe, whose reputation is anything
but lily white. Parsons’s concerns extend beyond the dollar
amount Hildy will access to a parent’s worry about her
safety. She has rebelled against his authority and seems starstruck
by Sharpe. Barrington is hired to investigate the man and convince
him to stay away from Hildy.

Meanwhile, Barrington’s latest sexual conquest, the
lipstick model, has a complicated history and is brash enough to
land an audition for the lead in a new Broadway production.
Miraculously, she gets the part. However, her outlandish
personality traits do not gain kudos from other cast members. This
“diva” uses people to her advantage. And when she
starts being stalked and harassed by her former husband, Max Long,
Barrington discovers much more about Carrie and her sordid
background.

Dino Bacchetti, Barrington’s long-time friend and an NYPD
lieutenant, is a regular with Barrington at Elaine’s. He has
met Carrie but has reservations about her. When she is wounded from
a gunshot, both Barrington and Bacchetti get involved. Long’s
near miss terrifies Carrie, so Barrington hires ex-cop Bob Cantor
to protect her and track the security at her apartment.

Unlike his Santa Fe novels, Woods writes his lead
character as a one-man sexual machine, fulfilling the desires of
not one but three females. A fourth, his ex-wife, is thrown in for
fun, promising action in a future novel. Balancing his sex life
between the two women who corral his body for a threesome and the
actress with singular designs is a game even Barrington wearies of
playing. Steamy sex scenes spice up the read, but may be too much
for the average mystery reader.

Secondary characters written into KISSER are incorporated with
skill. The reader identifies easily with Dino, Mitzi, Hildy, Emma
and Tiffany Baldwin. They add to the story, blend into its
complications and flesh out the solutions. Barrington’s
manipulation and involvement in two deep-cover police operations
fit into the mold of Woods’s crime story development. His
hero exhibits real-life worries when Carrie rejects the protection
he has provided her.

Frustration creeps into Barrington’s reactions to the
various directions his clients are pulling him in. Woods’s
story draws to its conclusion with solutions but leaves a hint of
action for the next installment. KISSER is an entertaining book,
with enough action to turn pages for a thirsty mystery reader, and
is testament to the author’s popularity in the world of
mystery fiction.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 22, 2011

Kisser: A Stone Barrington Novel
by Stuart Woods

  • Publication Date: August 31, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Signet
  • ISBN-10: 0451229630
  • ISBN-13: 9780451229632