On the heels of his New York Times bestseller Choke, Stuart Woods brings back one of his best-loved characters, Stone Barrington, in a glittering roller-coaster ride through the murderous world of high-profile celebrity gossip.
It may be his fifth novel in three years, but this slickly entertaining suspenser displays Woods at the top of his game with no signs of flagging. A sizable supporting cast of paparazzi-challenged beautiful people share the action as Stone Barrington, the suave ex-cop attorney-hero of New York Dead, makes his comeback. In this superbly paced tale, Stone gets involved in a blackmail scheme involving Amanda Dart, a much-feared, nationally syndicated gossip columnist. After Amanda is photographed in bed in a Manhattan hotel with a married real-estate magnate, a fax headlined "DIRT" and presenting both the photo and details of Amanda's tryst is sent to a weighty list of prominent people and major media outlets. The DIRT fax-web quickly expands to snare the gay but closeted editor of a sleazy L.A. tabloid. When Stone is hired by Amanda to sniff out who's spilling the pearls about these jealously guarded privacies, one of his operatives, a retired N.Y.C. cop, is murdered. The intrigue deepens when one of the perps is identified as closely resembling a male model in a Vanity Fair cologne ad. Dripping with name-dropping, haute couture and pricey playthings, and spiced with hormonal aerobics as Stone trolls the siren-infested waters of upscale Manhattan, the narrative rockets toward an abrupt but absolutely stunning denouement. Using all his skills here, and subtly reminiscent of the waggish P.G. Wodehouse, Woods delivers a marvelously sophisticated, thoroughly modern old-fashioned read. $275,000 combined (with the simultaneously published HarperPaperback edition of Choke) ad/promo; simultaneous HarperAudio edition; author tour; U.K., translation, dramatic rights: Janklow & Nesbit. (Sept.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 16, 1997
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Excerpt from Dirt (Stone Barrington Series: #2) by Stuart Woods
Dinner had been wonderful-twelve around a gleaming oval table of burled walnut in a dining room a dozen stories above the light-flecked carpet of Central Park, the cooking by the chef of a famous restaurant a few blocks away, the wines from the host's superb cellar, and the company carefully chosen by a couple who could cast a wide net. Amanda Dart felt quite at home among them.
As they moved from the table into the library next door for coffee and brandy, Amanda reflected that her presence there was as much a tribute to her position as to her personality, though she could certainly hold her own in any company. Of those presentýa movie star and his gorgeous companion, a captain of industry and his dowdy wife, and a former British prime minister, her dinner partner, among them. Amanda alone possessed the power to tell the world just who her hosts had attracted to their table, something the couple wanted very badly for the world to know. It was vulgar to drop names; Amanda Dart, queen of gossip columnists, would do the dropping for them.
Lord Wight, the former prime minister, was taking a keen interest in Amanda, attention that, on another night, would have been a great deal more interesting for her. Tonight, however, she had other plans, other company in mind, and the thought made for a weak feeling in her crotch.
"I chose my title from the island of my birth," Lord Wight was saying.
"Oh, yes, the Isle of Wight," Amanda said, returning his serve. "I believe the town of Cowes there is the capital of British yachting." Point made.
"The capital of European yachting," his lordship replied.
"And that's where you sail your little yacht?"
"Actually, it's quite a large yacht," Wight replied testily. "And I don't just sail it, I race it."
"Tell me, Lord Wight," Amanda asked innocently, "just how does someone amass enough of a fortune to buy a large yacht during a lifetime of public service?"
"Fortunately, my dear lady," Wight said, smiling softly, "in my country the amassing of a fortune is not incompatible with a life in politics. One acquires knowledgeable friends who advise one on how to invest one's money."