Carnal Curiosity: A Stone Barrington Novel
After being robbed of $500,000 in STANDUP GUY, Stone Barrington is visited by an adjuster from his insurance company, a young lady who evokes an immediate flash of carnal curiosity. Crane Hart conducts a professional interview and concludes that Stone’s claim be paid immediately. It isn’t long before the two decide to continue their conversation in his upstairs apartment with martinis in hand.
Upon learning more about her, including the fact that she’s divorced from her private investigator husband, Stone offers to arrange for her to interview with his friend and client, Mike Freeman, at Strategic Services. Conveniently, Strategic Services is hosting a party the following night that Stone plans to attend with Dino Bacchetti, his former partner, so he invites Crane to accompany them. She meets Freeman, who offers to interview her for a position. Then a large giant of a man comes in and makes a beeline toward her and Stone.
"CARNAL CURIOSITY is a joyous frolic between the sheets for our hero, but contains pages of real problem-solving mysteries for the good guys to solve. Woods entertains with likable characters and sufficient drama to whet the appetite for more of the same."
“I’m Don Dugan,” the man says, grasping Stone’s hand. “I’d like a word with my wife.” Stone feigns excuses, attempting to brush him off. Following a scuffle, Stone and Freeman escort Dugan out and into the elevator. Later, Stone finds out that Crane’s divorce is not yet finalized. Two of the book’s major players have been introduced in Woods’s flamboyant style.
Woods, as always, moves the action forward with rapid pace. Kate Lee, who has launched her presidential campaign, sends Ann Keaton, her personnel director, to interview Stone regarding donations and helping her candidacy. When asked about legal entanglements, he tells her about a summons from Dugan about alienation of his wife’s affection, filed that morning. Keaton concedes that Stone forms carnal relationships with ease and declines his invitation to join his law practice. She does, however, leave a business card.
Stone has prudently decided to avoid Crane until her divorce is a done deal. When his wealthy clients, Jack and Hilary Coulter, invite Stone to a private dinner party, he asks Ann to join him. Luxurious surroundings, guests wearing expensive jewels and clothing, and lavish food are the order of the evening. Stone and Ann sip on drinks when he abruptly steers her through French doors outside the living room, sticks her necklace and his watch into a hip pocket, and walks calmly onto the terrace. He’d observed a masked gunman in the mail room. Guests are removed of their valuables while being threatened with shotguns.
The action continues when Dugan is suspected of being involved in security system tampering. When their divorce is final, Crane mysteriously disappears, only to turn up again in Dugan’s company. Later, Stone’s home is robbed of his mother’s artwork. The robberies may be connected.
At times, Stone seems much younger than his mid-life status but is all the more attractive for it. As both lawyer and former law officer, his experiences suit him well for the take-charge attitude he projects. He is vulnerable to the sexy charms of more than one female character, a trait carried through each of these novels.
CARNAL CURIOSITY is a joyous frolic between the sheets for our hero, but contains pages of real problem-solving mysteries for the good guys to solve. Woods entertains with likable characters and sufficient drama to whet the appetite for more of the same.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on April 20, 2014