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Foreign Affairs: A Stone Barrington Novel


Foreign Affairs: A Stone Barrington Novel

FOREIGN AFFAIRS, the 35th installment in Stuart Woods’ Stone Barrington series, is a tantalizing book that demands turning its pages without hesitation. Some may wish to grab a few winks but will wake up wanting to resume the next chapter as the plot thickens.

Usual good friends Dino and Viv Bachetti join wealthy attorney Stone Barrington for a casual dinner when his secretary interrupts with a call. Stone is to attend an Arrington Group Board meeting the next day at noon, in Rome, Italy, and his flight leaves in 45 minutes. The non-stop action begins here, as Dino, the NYPD Commissioner, drives him to JFK with sirens blaring.

On the plane, Stone lands in the uncomfortable tourist class but is soon moved to first-class, where his seatmate is an amply endowed young lady named Hedy Kiesler. She’s an artist who plans to paint Rome from her rented apartment for a month. Coincidences pile on during their talk over glasses of bourbon. Stone’s mother was a well-known painter, and Hedy’s stepfather is a client of Stone’s law firm. In Rome, she joins him in his two-bedroom Presidential Suite when her apartment is not yet available.

"The action, evasion tactics, and inclusion of multiple city, state and international policing units make for a thriller filled with possibilities. Settings change as rapidly as the airplanes fly and land."

Yet another major character appears at the conference table in the person of Marcel du Bois, Stone’s friend and colleague. The group will decide on a potential site for an Arrington Hotel in Rome. Another hotel group had approval to build on the site but were unable to seal the deal. With the price right, board members vote to buy the land. They adjourn to inspect the property, near the Borghese Gardens. Marcel will oversee the project after monies are on account. The former hotel group’s initial structure will be theirs for a launching pad. Marcel indicates that money woes have pushed that group out.

Stone invites Hedy out for dinner to celebrate, but the evening is cut short when a structure nearby draws a fire truck and crew. They discover Marcel at the site, bemoaning the loss of their newest possession. It seems odd that such a minimal response was sent to fight the blaze. Strange accident #1.

Taking a holiday to a coastal resort the following day with Hedy, Stone stops to accept a Mercedes on loan from Marcel. Strange accident #2: They stop for gas, use the facilities and return to find the car stolen, along with all personal items, passports and cash. Report of the theft to the police, with Stone’s connections, finds them on their way again in a rental. Arriving at the hotel, the two are shocked at the sight of the Mercedes, a smoking ruin sitting at the entry. Strange accident #3?

Baggage and incidentals appeared undamaged and checked off from items previously reported missing. At the pool cabana, a 60ish dapper Italian brings up the charred Mercedes. Leonardo Casselli introduces himself as a well-known figure from New York.  Exchanging pleasantries, Stone recalls him to be a mafia guy having gone back to his homeland. Taking leave, he had these parting words: “Perhaps the car was a warning. Perhaps you should heed it."

Stone returns to Rome where security is breached, insurance claims on the burned hotel are questioned, strangers tail his movements and mayhem erupts. His security team, under good friend Mike Freeman, relocates Stone and Hedy to a well-guarded apartment. Mafia henchmen intrude on their new space with open threats. Death threats add to Stone’s insecurity. Why? seems to be the main question.

Woods makes full use of his title, FOREIGN AFFAIRS. The action, evasion tactics, and inclusion of multiple city, state and international policing units make for a thriller filled with possibilities. Settings change as rapidly as the airplanes fly and land. Stone’s wealthy lifestyle allows him the caveat of powerful friends to call upon. Even the U.S. government is interested in the particulars of his business. When faced with a kidnapping in Rome, he can enlist the highest authority in that city for help --- the office of the Pope. 

FOREIGN AFFAIRS is a novel that captivates our interest. Stone Barrington may exemplify wealth and power, but he has heart. Sufficient back story allows the novice Woods reader to know Stone’s character and personality as well as in the previous 34 stories. A theme might be “good turns the tables on bad luck.”

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on February 25, 2016

Foreign Affairs: A Stone Barrington Novel
by Stuart Woods

  • Publication Date: June 7, 2016
  • Genres: Adventure, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0451477227
  • ISBN-13: 9780451477224