Standup Guy: A Stone Barrington Novel
Stuart Woods’s latest Stone Barrington thriller begins when Stone meets with John Fratelli, a potential client. Fratelli wants investment advice in dealing with a large sum of money without going back to prison. Stone asks him to set up the scene with a hypothetical sequence of events --- one suggesting how he may have access to two million dollars and change. The money in question has been willed to Fratelli by his former cellmate, a bank robber. The crime has passed the statute of limitations, but the money is quite real. Stone gives the man his theoretical advice and sends him on his way.
Fratelli, on the way to opening a bank account, narrowly escapes gunshots thanks to his briefcase, which deflects the bullets meant for him. Again, he requests Stone’s help. This time, the advice is to get out of town, place the money in an offshore account, drawing minor amounts when needed and paying for items with cash. Fratelli soon leaves for a retirement in Florida.
In the meantime, Stone dines with the President and First Lady, Kate Rule, who plans to announce her candidacy to fill her husband’s office when he retires at the end of his term. She wants Stone’s support, along with about 20 additional well-heeled donors. Her plans offer a minor subplot to the story but provide a means to tie up loose ends.
"The trail of missing money, those in pursuit of it, and the varied courses taken provide the meat of STANDUP GUY. Woods again delivers an entertaining read with sufficient action to keep readers guessing, and fans of the series surely will clamor for the next adventure."
In STANDUP GUY, Stone is the total professional, refusing to compromise attorney/client privilege. Outside of business, however, he plays much looser with the women in his life. During the course of the novel, he cavorts with three different ladies, each unaware of the other.
Emma Tweed is Stone’s recent love interest. She owns a successful design business in London but plans to expand operations to California. Now, she seeks professional advice when designs are stolen and replicated on the black market nearly as fast as they appear on her own models. Stone suggests the name of a private detective in London who goes to work on the problem. Later, he takes her up on an invitation to spend some time in London, rediscovering her boudoir. For now, he entertains former bedmate Holly Barker with a brief catch-up interlude.
Stone also spends time with his best friend, Dino Bacchetti (now the Police Chief), to air the latest news about politics and stolen money. Donnelly, a former detective, visits Stone with questions about an ex-prisoner now holding a large sum of money, but gets nothing from Stone. Later that evening, Donnelly is shot after leaving a local bar. Dino visits him and discovers his recent connection to Stone. Fratelli and his money appear to be the attraction for both hit men and cold-case detectives. When Stone accompanies Dino to the bar to investigate Donnelly’s shooting, they meet a tall, young green-eyed woman named Hank Cromwell, an illustrator by trade. She joins the two for dinner, privy to their conversation about the mysterious missing money, recent shootings and security matters. Stone invites both of them back to his lavish apartment for an aperitif.
Late in the evening, a uniformed man rings the doorbell, with a paper needing a signature. Stone chains the door, telling the driver to pass it through to him for signature. Several loud booms answer, followed by running footsteps, a slammed car door and rubber burning. Hank promises to stay the night on another occasion, skipping Stone’s hospitality for the moment. She will join his ranks of bedmates before long, as his sexual appetites know few boundaries.
Meanwhile, Fratelli has relocated to Florida, making new and upstanding friends. He has blended into the country club life in the retirement community he has chosen, taking care to watch his spending habits. Golf, a wealthy widow as steady company, and an expensive new car all conform to his new identity of Jack Coulter.
Stuart Woods has little trouble jetting his characters to wherever the plot will take them. With Stone off to London for an interlude with Emma and then returning to take up where he left off in his relationship with Hank, one wonders when the man finds time to actually practice law. The trail of missing money, those in pursuit of it, and the varied courses taken provide the meat of STANDUP GUY. Woods again delivers an entertaining read with sufficient action to keep readers guessing, and fans of the series surely will clamor for the next adventure.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on February 7, 2014