The newest Stone Barrington novel finds our attorney hero waking up in a small dimly lit room, his head on a foam rubber pillow, in unfamiliar surroundings. A scraggly beard, gritty teeth and an unclean body could be attended by toilet articles he finds near a wash basin. Beside it is a call bell for an attendant. Before he can push the buzzer, a voice stops him. The man, dressed in medical scrubs, is ready to answer Stone’s questions. The last thing he remembers is being in his home in New York hosting a wedding reception for his best friend, Dino, and bride Vi, both police officers. When the doctor asks him the date of the party, Stone replies, “the fourteenth.” He’s shocked to learn that it's now four days later, and he's in Paris at the American Embassy.
In addition to time lost, Stone hears that he is recovering from the effects of a powerful drug called hypnotic; an overdose has caused memory loss. He was brought to the embassy from the airport by a taxi driver who did not understand what he was saying. From his pocket credentials, the embassy officials have identified him as a consultant to the CIA. Stone has pre-paid round trip airline tickets and pre-arranged hotel reservations but recalls nothing from the previous four days. His immediate problem is to retrace his steps from New York to Paris and to learn how and why he was drugged.
"UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES is an entertaining read, with many familiar characters and new ones to spice up the international panorama."
A ravenous Stone munches on a sandwich later at his hotel when an envelope is slid under his door. A formal engraved card invites him to a black-tie evening dinner, with a chauffeured limousine picking him up. The card is unsigned, leaving him more puzzled. The phone rings, and on the other end is Amanda Hurley, who reminds him of their dinner engagement for the following evening. She was a passenger on the same plane he arrived on from New York, but he cannot remember her. Perhaps the two dinners will solve his memory issues.
Arriving at a posh home on the outskirts of Paris, Stone is led to an elegant library, having noted that mail on the table is addressed to an M. Marcel duBois. duBois warmly welcomes Stone and introduces him to other international guests in the room, including a tall, beautiful blond Swedish divorcee named Helga Becker. Another key player attending the soiree is Mr. Richard LaRose, an American diplomat who is promoting commerce between the United States and foreign countries. Meanwhile, the evening’s surprise is the introduction of duBois’s new luxury roadster, the Blaise, mimed in honor of his deceased son. Stone is duly impressed and orders a vehicle that evening. Later, he and Helga discover mutual erotic pleasures together, far into the night.
The next day he keeps the date with Amanda Hurley, discovering earlier that she had been a CIA agent in the past. Did she poison his drink on the plane? He still has no idea why duBois had invited him to Paris. A wealthy entrepreneur, duBois makes Stone a business proposal; an intention to purchase the Arrington hotel property owned by Stone and his partners in the United States. There is still no sound reasoning he can trace to his being poisoned. Like previous Stone Barrington novels, Woods loads up on details of the hero’s affluent lifestyle. Accustomed to the elegance of the extremely rich, we are given minute descriptions of his several homes and estates, Stone’s choice of airplane and auto transport, and the gadgetry each sports. Servants and secretary willingly obey his slightest request. Stone is a consultant to the CIA; his previous love interest being Holly Barker, now a division chief under the director, Lance Cabot. Cabot arrives in Paris to complicate matters further for Stone, but he may unravel the mystery of the drugging.
Before Stone recovers the memories from four missing days, an international scheme unfolds, with shots fired, murders, Russian mob involvement, and much mayhem. Dino and Vi, the newlyweds, become involved in solving the enormous puzzle. The reader, accustomed to Woods’s style, must wait until the final pages before the action picks up and for an abrupt conclusion. Much conversation has transpired, with a preponderance of details, until Stone’s recall is satisfied.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES is an entertaining read, with many familiar characters and new ones to spice up the international panorama.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on May 3, 2013