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Quick & Dirty: A Stone Barrington Novel

Review

Quick & Dirty: A Stone Barrington Novel

Stone Barrington, an attorney and a former NYPD detective, now enters the world of art, specifically fine art paintings. Stuart Woods uses Stone’s charm and discernment as characteristics to push QUICK & DIRTY forward. The opening chapter grabs the reader’s attention with Stone riding in his Bentley limousine, attacked at a stoplight by three black-clothed men wielding sledge hammers at his armored-glass windows. His driver eludes the attackers but not without damage to the windows. The first phone call made, once Stone arrives home, is to his good friend, Chief of Detectives Dino Bacchetti, who assures him that an investigation involving similar expensive cars will be held.

Speculation abounds about an earlier incident involving Stone and his good friend, Holly Barker, now Secretary of State for President Kate Lee. On New Year’s Eve, he and Holly had been attacked by a lone gunman when they were leaving a party at Dino’s. Stone was the target rather than Holly. His driver, Fred, shot the assailant, leaving Holly with an arm wound. Now, Holly contemplates a run for the presidency when Lee’s second term ends. Thus, the secondary plot settles onto the pages, erupting from time to time.

"QUICK & DIRTY is a quick read because of the speed at which events lead from one clue to yet another. It would make a great stocking stuffer for any Stuart Woods fan."

Stone’s secretary, Joan, ushers in a tall, raven-haired and bejeweled lady who introduces herself as Morgan Tillman. Morgan tells Stone about her harrowing experience hours earlier of watching her parked car, a Bentley, being smashed with a sledge hammer by a black-clad man. She feels that the police have paid her no attention, so Stone offers her an audience with Dino that evening, as the two friends already made dinner plans.

The minor broken windshields plot carries the dinner conversation, but there’s little in the way of a solution. The next day, Dino calls with information about the woman’s late husband and her possible implication in his demise (though there is no proof). A valuable van Gogh painting was supposedly stolen by the perpetrator, who pushed Mr. Tillman 15 stories to his death. Morgan remained the primary suspect in the case. Stone’s client, the Steele Group, had insured the painting for $60 million.

Stone’s ego refuses to allow that he may have been taken advantage of by a murderess. His attorney and detective alter-egos push him to investigate both the history and the theft of a possibly valuable van Gogh. Arthur Steele, the insurer, contracts Stone to retrieve the stolen piece, verify its authenticity (or its fraud) and satisfy him before payment to the widow can be made. Stone is thrust into an art world he knows little about and must dig deep to obtain answers. Stories of the painting’s whereabouts lingered through the years and eventually was bought by Tillman. A puzzling item of note: Tillman was the neighbor of and friends with a known artist (and possible forger), Angelo Farina, at the time he bought the van Gogh. Stone retains an expert in art authentication, who encourages him to become acquainted with Farina’s work.

Through 43 novels, Stone has remained true to his background: wealthy, smart, an airplane enthusiast, sexually permissive and morally upright in business. For the first time, he must have doubts about his own ability to judge a new friend without a personal bias. His intimate relationship with Morgan cools a bit, while Steele’s suspicions smolder. Still, he wants to believe in her innocence.

The complications increase when Stone reaches the Farina family and delves into the possibilities of insurance fraud. Did Tillman actually own an authentic van Gogh? Was it a fake? Where is the painting --- real or fake --- that is insured? Is Morgan involved in the theft or in her husband’s death? Weighty matters make Stone’s head swirl.

QUICK & DIRTY is a quick read because of the speed at which events lead from one clue to yet another. It would make a great stocking stuffer for any Stuart Woods fan.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on November 17, 2017

Quick & Dirty: A Stone Barrington Novel
by Stuart Woods

  • Publication Date: October 24, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0735217149
  • ISBN-13: 9780735217140