2 stars out of 5
If you're looking for a book that reads quickly, this may be the one; I polished it off in spare time in a single day. It also follows the mundane, laid-back pattern I've found in the series featuring filthy rich attorney Stone Barrington; action happens, but nobody gets excited about it. Case in point from a phone conversation between Barrington and a friend:
Friend: "Everything all right?"
Barrington: "Well, let's see. I was at a dinner party on Saturday night when four men with shotguns arrived and took all the available jewelry."
Friend: "How interesting for you."
And so it goes from start to finish. Even Barrington's between-the-sheets adventures - and there seem to be more of them happening here than in past books - are quite ho-hum. I'm sure it's written that way intentionally, but it does seem to me I yawned through more of the pages of this one than usual.
My interest was piqued at the outset, though, when early on Barrington is visited by a gorgeous blonde insurance adjuster sent to investigate his claim as a result of stolen works of art. Her unusual name is Crane Hart - a reversal of poet Hart Crane, who as it happens was born in Garrettsville, Ohio, not far from where I live (he died in 1932). Other than that reference, however, no more mention is made of the name - leaving me to wonder what the connection is, if any, between the poet and author Woods.
Not long after Barrington and Hart hit the sack, she reveals that she's being stalked by her hulk of an estranged husband - who also appears to be the ringleader of a gang of thieves (remember the subject of that phone call)? Barrington and his police buddies, of course, try to round them all up; in between, Barrington also gets involved with the campaign of friend Kate - the wife of the outgoing U.S. President who has thrown her hat in the campaign ring to replace her husband. In that process, he meets yet another beauty with whom he jumps into bed almost immediately (proving, I suppose, that he's still got it even though he's old enough to be a grandfather several times over).
Oh yes, I did learn a new word: "Tsuris." It was used several times in the book, so I looked it up and found that it's defined as a Yiddish word for stress or troubles (aha - maybe that's how readers are supposed to know some of the characters really are under a bit of duress). All rightee then, I said to myself as I pondered ways to work it into future conversations.
One thing I won't be talking much about, though, is this book - somewhat entertaining, but certainly not worth paying much for.
Carnal Curiosity by Stuart Woods (Putnam Adult, April 2014); 309 pp.