'Indecent Exposure' plays up Stone Barrington's softer side

AP News
Posted: Jun 06, 2017 3:37 PM
'Indecent Exposure' plays up Stone Barrington's softer side

"Indecent Exposure'(G.P. Putnam's Sons), by Stuart Woods

As a longtime reader of Stuart Woods' Stone Barrington books, I took a moment in "Indecent Exposure" to marvel at the journey this character has enjoyed.

At one point, when Stone first hung out his law-office shingle, he was barely able to make ends meet. Loyal-but-skeptical secretary Joan had to juggle the bills, while Stone had too much free time on his hands so he did most of the carpentry work himself in the Turtle Bay apartment in Manhattan that still serves as the hub of this mystery-ish series.

Dozens of books later, Stone now finds himself hosting the president of the United States on his corporate yacht; he has essentially a Batphone to the heads of every major international security agency, including the CIA and MI6; and his love life is worthy of tabloid-magazine coverage as if he were a rock star.

But since Stone has handled these remarkable turns of fortunes gracefully, as you'd expect from such a charming gentleman, readers digest them, too, pretty much with no questions asked. "Indecent Exposure," however, also dallies in a geo-political plotline that literally changes the world for Woods' well-connected characters and pretty much anyone else who lives in it, so it seems like it might have been time for a background check that, when strung together, seems a bit impossible.

Nevertheless, on its own, this book is another entertaining episode in what has become a bit of a soap opera about the rich and famous. Woods' prolific stories — there can be four books in this series a year — seem to alternate in focus from bona fide mysteries and spy adventures, to glitz-and-glamour romances.

"Indecent Exposure" falls into the latter category, but with the socially relevant backdrops of the president, privacy and the paparazzi, there is enough intrigue to connect the dots between the last book and the next one that's sure to come.