Stuart Woods recreates the elite lifestyle of lawyer Stone Barrington in LUCID INTERVALS. Stone’s tastes put him in a difficult financial position when he looks at seemingly endless red ink in his checkbook. His enterprising secretary, Joan Robertson, has his best interests --- and his bank account --- in mind when she ushers in Herbie Fisher, nephew of a good friend but a monstrous pain. Herbie, an Internet-degreed attorney, has won a $30 million lottery. He is certain that someone is out to kill him, and so he wants to hire Stone to represent him. Sure enough, gunshots shatter glass in Stone’s favorite restaurant, Elaine’s, when Herbie approaches him. Stone turns him down, but Joan accepts the $1 million retainer behind Stone’s back in order to pay his bills.
Stone’s next client, British intelligence officer Felicity Devonshire, is an old acquaintance of the intimate type. She’s investigating the whereabouts of a former British agent believed to have left the intelligence service with information for sale to the highest bidder, and enlists Stone to verify his appearance in the United States. Under the Official Secrets Act, she asks for his help, promising a hefty retainer in British pounds. The elegant Felicity, chauffeured to Stone’s office in a slightly elder Rolls Royce, accepts an offer to stay at his house. His libido is satisfied by the insatiable appetites of his British guest; tastefully written, the sexual scenes are as much innuendo as reality.
Throughout, Woods uses the setting of Elaine’s as a rendezvous for his characters. Stone’s former cop partner, Dino Bacchetti, proves useful when an official investigation is necessary. Dino’s access to police records is invaluable when it comes to searching for Stanley Whitestone, the elusive British agent. Herbie wanders in and out of Elaine’s when seeking advice from his reluctant attorney; his adoration of Stone borders on hero worship.
Woods, himself a pilot, writes his passion for flying into LUCID INTERVALS when Stone meets a third client, Jim Hackett, a naturalized U.S. citizen and owner of a successful security conglomerate. Jim wants to hire Stone and offers him flight instruction in piloting a small corporate jet. Felicity believes that Hackett is Whitestone’s assumed identity, but Stone disagrees until further sleuthing can satisfy both their reservations. Meanwhile, Herbie prances through the plotline and becomes involved in a murder investigation when he is accused of killing his prostitute girlfriend. Stone abruptly leaves the Whitestone case to bail his wealthy client out of jail.
A third subplot involves a young woman intent on killing Stone and anyone close to him. She is Dolce Bianci, Stone’s brief commitment to marriage. Dolce’s rich father has restrained his psychotic daughter, but she has escaped with the intention of stalking her former husband.
LUCID INTERVALS contains sufficient humorous episodes when Herbie is present to take an edge off the cloak and dagger effects of Stone’s relationship with Felicity. This latest installment is a must-read for Stone Barrington fans, and I wonder if Dolce will be given a meatier role in future books. I certainly hope so.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 6, 2011