Over the years, I have for the most part enjoyed the novels written by Stuart Woods. My only quibble with him is that in recent years as he churned out less complex books, he also included more graphic sexual scenes in his novels. Sexual scenes that were gratuitous and did nothing to advance the plot and seemed to be included because he felt like he had to have such situations for whatever reason. The latest does that again at one point but overall is a tighter more complicated novel despite the shaky and rather unbelievable beginning.

 

Shoot Him If He Runs

Stuart Woods

http://www.stuartwoods.com

G. P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Group)

http://www.penguin.com

2007

ISBN # 978-0-399-15444-7

293 Pages

 

The novel opens at the restaurant Elaine’s, as almost all do, and as always it the time is described as late. Stone, having just returned to New York is pawing through his mail where he finds what appears to be a dinner invitation from the White House. The legitimacy of the invitation is confirmed minutes later when his friend and occasional lover, Holly Barker, calls him. She is doing shadowy things for the CIA these days and tells him to bring his tux for the dinner tomorrow night along with enough warm weather clothing to be gone a week as well as his passport. Holly doesn’t say much more and neither does the President the next evening before leaving so that Lance Cabot, also of the agency can talk to Barrington.

 

For the current administration there is the potential of a huge public relations disaster should it become reported by the media that a former employee presumed dead is actually very alive. What is wanted and would be denied by President Lee is for Barrington to go with Holly to St. Marks and help her look for the former employee. Barrington has been there before with mixed results and Holly knows what the master of disguise has looked like on at least two occasions.  It is suspected, because of circumstantial evidence that the rogue agent could be in St. Marks. They are to go down to St. Marks and see if they can locate him and if so let the Agency deal with him as they see fit.

 

Before long, Barrington, Holly, Dino and his current girlfriend, Genevieve, are all cavorting on the beaches, having a good time in the bedroom and at the local restaurants and generally playing the role of wealthy tourists on vacation. Barring and Holly have a harder time with that as they are also trying to find the rogue agent while staying out of the current government’s politics. There are many agendas at work at home and in St. Marks, and Barrington and Holly are pawns on several game boards.

 

The result is a fast paced fairly enjoyable installment in the Stone Barrington series. The tale is a bit complicated and has a couple of twists in it that aren’t glaringly obvious to the reader. Woods also keeps things interesting as he minimizes the allusions to Barrington’s wealth and sexual encounters. Several are implied briefly with only one being very graphic and obtrusive.

 

Of course, there really isn’t any character development and series readers wouldn’t expect any since these characters have been fully developed long ago. Instead, the focus is on providing a pleasant tale with some mystery and some action with suspense and the occasional funny throw away line. In that regard, the novel easily meets the goal. While it doesn’t measure up to his early work, it does continue the recent improvement in readability and reader enjoyment.

 

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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