When the rich and stunning widow, Arrington Calder, calls New York attorney Stone Barrington, he answers every time. After all, Arrington is an old friend, occasional lover and the mother of his son. This time, she needs his help to lobby against the proposed sale of Centurion Studios, a producer of numerous Hollywood films, of which Arrington is a major stockholder, thanks to the efforts of her deceased husband, movie star Vance Calder.
Arrington, who has made a new life for herself and her teenage son, Peter, in Virginia, wants Stone to fly to California and use her stocks to vote against the sale of the studio to Terry Prince, a billionaire who wants the Centurion Studios land to build an exclusive luxury resort complex. She also wants Stone to use his powers of persuasion to convince the other stockholders to side with her and Rick Barron, the chairman and CEO of Centurion Studios, who is married to aging superstar Glenna Barron and is still a powerhouse in spite of the fact that he's now in his 90s.
Stone flies himself and Dino Bacchetti, an old friend from Stone's days with the NYPD, to Bel-Air in his private jet, where they stay at Arrington's upscale estate. All appears to be going well until the other shareholders, who have aligned themselves against the sale of the studio, start dropping dead. Now their shares are up for grabs, and it's anyone's guess who's going to win this battle.
Even though we are relatively sure from past experience that we can put our money on the team of Stone and Dino, Terry Prince, rumored to have started his business life with money made by his now-dead, drug-lord brother, is a formidable enemy. Prince wants what he wants, wants it now, and will do what he has to do to get it. Getting in his way is tantamount to stepping in front of a moving race car at the Indianapolis 500.
As is the case in every Stuart Woods novel, upscale living, fine dining, beautiful women, and rich, powerful men play a large part in BEL-AIR DEAD. And let's not forget the numerous instances of gratuitous sex. As is also the case, Woods handles each event with an air of clarity and conciseness that makes his readers envy the lives of his characters. Our days look positively dreary when compared to the non-stop excitement and action Stone and company experience regularly.
It's the intrigue, however, that really keeps readers coming back for more. It's an integral part of each of Woods's novels. Just before we catch our breath from one shocking event, two or three more escapades follow in quick succession. If it takes you more than a day or two to read BEL-AIR DEAD, you either have no innate sense of curiosity, or you live a life as exciting as Stone Barrington's and have little time to read.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on May 2, 2011