Stone Barrington thought he'd heard the last of former girlfriend Arrington after she'd left him to marry Vance Calder, Hollywood's hottest star. The last thing Stone expected was a desperate call from Calder. Arrington has vanished, and her new fiance; wants Stone to come to LA and find her.
Formerly a cop and now a lawyer, Stone Barrington is plummeting to the bottom of the ocean with an anchor chained to his waist at the start of Woods's 17th novel (after Dead in the Water, 1997), a smoothly presented if slight thriller that ambles pleasurably through a kidnapping plot involving Barrington's ex-lover (improbably named Arrington). Her husband, actor Vance Calder, flies Barrington out to Hollywood to help find her. In L.A., Barrington goes from flavor-of-the-minute to persona non grata in less time than it takes a flop to disappear from a multiplex. Naturally he's suspicious, so he starts investigating on his own and finds links aplenty among Calder, a mobster named Onofrio Ippolito (head of the Safe Harbor Bank) and labor fixer David Sturmach. The plot moves quickly and is full of dialogue and genial if unsurprising gibes at self-centered stars. Unsurprising is the key word here. Neither the mystery nor the romantic subplot contributes much in the way of suspense to this pleasant, inoffensive airplane read. $250,000 ad/promo; BOMC alternate. (May) FYI: HarperPaperbacks is issuing a paper edition of Dead in the Water simultaneously with Swimming to Catalina. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 04, 1998
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Excerpt from Swimming to Catalina (Stone Barrington Series: #4) by Stuart Woods
Elaine's, late. Stone Barrington sat at a very good table with his friend and former partner Dino Bacchetti, who ran the detective division at the NYPD's 19th Precinct, and with Elaine, who was Elaine.
The remnants of dinner were cleared away by Jack, the headwaiter, and brandy was brought for Stone and Dino. It was very special brandy; Dino had the bottle of his own stuff stashed behind the bar, and it annoyed Elaine no end, because she couldn't charge him for it, not that she didn't find other ways to charge him for it.
"Okay, I want to know about Arrington," Elaine said.
"Elaine," Dino interrupted, "don't you know that Stone is still suffering a great deal of emotional pain over Arrington's dumping him?"
"Who gives a fuck?" Elaine asked, quite reasonably. "I want to know how he let her get away. She was something, that girl."
"There's a large body of opinion," Dino said, "that holds that she didn't want to be known as Arrington Barrington."
"And who could blame her?" Elaine asked. "Come on, Stone, spill it."
Stone took a deep breath and sighed. "I have to take a lot of shit from you two, you know?"
"I think you better cough it up," Dino said, "or we're going to start getting tables in Siberia."
"You bet your ass," Elaine confirmed.
Stone sighed again. "It was like this," he said, then stopped.
"Yeah?" Elaine encouraged.
"We were supposed to have ten days sailing in St. Marks in February."
"I never heard of St. Marks," Elaine said. "Where is that?"