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L.a. Dead


L.a. Dead

Stuart Woods has been clicking right along recently, particularly
with his novels involving Stone Barrington. Barrington, former NYPD
cop, present lawyer and investigator, has been the subject of such
novels as NEW YORK DEAD and DEAD IN THE WATER as well as the
current L.A. DEAD. These are what I would call airport books ---
they are long enough to occupy you as you fly from Point A to Point
B, and engaging enough to help you to forget, however momentarily,
that you are engaged in an act that violates all known laws of
nature, science, and aerodynamics.

Woods's Stone Barrington books remind me of the golden days when
the James Bond movies first became popular. The movies, for the
most part, were somewhat different from the books. When some
paperback houses accordingly rushed a few titles to fill the void,
it resulted in the series revolving around a secret agent who was
more interested in bedding the dangerous but lusty (or were they
lusty but dangerous?) wenches who confronted him at every turn.
Stone Barrington is the fictional heir to those gentlemen. It seems
as if he barely gets off of a plane before he is being led to bed
by a woman who has stripped her clothes off within five minutes of
meeting him. And, as one might expect, this gets him into a spot of

That having been said, L.A. DEAD begins with Barrington about to
enter a state of connubial bliss with Dolce, a world-class beauty
who is the widow of one Mafia underboss and the daughter of
another. Barrington and Dolce are to be married in Italy, first at
a civil ceremony and then at a Roman Catholic one the next day. In
between the two ceremonies, however, Barrington learns that the
great lost love of his life, Arrington (yes, Arrington. If they
would have gotten married she'd have been Arrington Barrington)
Calder, is about to be indicted for the murder of her husband. She
has motive --- Vance Calder, Arrington's handsome movie star
husband, had a reputation for dallying with everything that could
move or breathe --- and opportunity. Barrington flies back to the
States before undergoing the church ceremony with his erstwhile
bride, and all too soon finds that he is involved with Arrington on
both a professional and personal level.

No matter what happens to Arrington, however, Barrington is going
to get off easily. Dolce has returned to the States intent on
putting things back together with Barrington. He, meanwhile, is not
confining his extracurricular activities to Arrington --- who may,
or may not, have murdered her husband. Barrington soon comes to
doubt his own motives: is he more interested in discovering the
truth about Vance Calder's murder or in protecting Arrington?

L.A. DEAD requires a lot of suspension of disbelief and is
written tongue thrust firmly in...well, in cheek, I guess, but it
is great fun from beginning to end, notwithstanding the stereotyped
and one-dimensional characters. And the conclusion, surprisingly,
is extremely thought-provoking. It will be interesting to see what
Woods does next with Barrington (or what Barrington does with, or
to, whomever) and whether Woods picks up any of the strands of plot
that he leaves dangling in L.A. DEAD. It will, in either event, be
worth a look at his next novel.

Reviewed by Maggie Harding on January 22, 2011

L.a. Dead
by Stuart Woods

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Signet
  • ISBN-10: 0451204115
  • ISBN-13: 9780451204110