Book Report: Dirty Work by Stuart Woods (2003)

I inherited this book from my aunt who died in 2005. She was probably not a big Stuart Woods fan, but rather a purchaser of books at yard sales who hoped to make money on them on eBay. Which is good, because this book then doesn’t reflect poorly upon her tastes.

The book centers on a series character, Stone Barrington, a lawyer who doesn’t work in the courtroom but rather as a fixer. He hires an inept camera man to photograph a husband in flagrante delecto, but the photographer falls through the skylight and lands on the husband, who has been murdered by a superstar assassin. What’s more, he’s taken the only photo of her known to exist. But Barrington is in trouble for his lackey’s presumed killing of the husband.

Well, then we get British Intelligence involved and the New York Police Department (Barrington, former NYPD himself, has a friend on the force who accompanies him through much of the novel). Barrington jets to the Caribbean to retrieve the bail-jumping photog and arranges a face-to-face meeting with the assassin, and re-beds a member of British Intelligence. It’s clear we’re not dealing with a depth of characterization here, but really a plot that moves along quickly and provides a nice read.

I even pointed out to some people while reading this book that you can shelve some characterization when you’ve got a well-paced plot that drives action forward. It’s forgiveable, I said. It’s light reading.


200 some pages into the book and the story could have concluded. But no, the events had to hinge upon a random event in the Caribbean. Not a coincidence, but a it’s sick cousin the contrivance. With this contrivance, the story continued and eventually denouementated in a rather unsatisfying fashion.

I was with it for about 2/3 of the book, and the remainder was painful.

I won’t go out of my way to pick up any new Stuart Woods, but I’m afraid I might have another of Woods’s work in the pile here. I mean, I am not angry, merely sad, and perhaps another book that handles its plot better would revive my interest. But if you’ve got a plot-driven book and the plot makes the reader say, “Oh, come on,” you’re in trouble.

But hey, you can buy it in paperback here:

Books mentioned in this review:

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