Woods furnishes new Stone mystery

Posted Oct. 26, 2008, at 5:55 p.m.

HOT MAHOGANY, by Stuart Woods, 2008, Putnam, New York, hardcover, 293 pages, $25.95.

Stuart Woods’ most famous protagonist, New York cop-turned-lawyer Stone Barrington, returns for the 15th time in a real caper novel.

There are all of Stone’s usual trappings: food and drink at Elaine’s, trips to his Connecticut country home and too many women to juggle.

And, of course, Stone getting in over his head in a mystery. The currency this time out is furniture, of all things.

“Hot Mahogany” starts with Stone’s sometime boss, CIA chief Lance Cabot, recruiting him to watch over Cabot’s long-lost older brother, Barton, who has been mugged and can’t remember why.

Very soon, however, Barton reveals his situation to Stone. An antiques dealer, he has had a multimillion-dollar, early American piece of furniture stolen from him. With promise of a big reward, he convinces Stone to help him find it.

To further complicate his life, Stone gets the fiancee of a rich client of his firm to sign a prenuptial agreement, then, after she dumps the client, she and Stone start an affair. Things get messy, so he finds a new man for her.

Stone, aided by friends such as his ex-partner Dino Bacchetti and P.I. Bob Cantor (who served with Barton in Nam), helps Barton recover his lost goods, in the most circuitous way possible. There are guest appearances by other Woods regulars, including Holly Baker.

The enjoyable part of a Stone Barrington novel isn’t how he solves the mystery, but instead the journey he takes to get there. He hobnobs with the rich and famous, but often doesn’t end up better off for it. “Hot Mahogany” is another such fun ride from Stuart Woods.

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