28 February 2013

Review: Collateral Damage by Stuart Woods

I've been meaning to read Stuart Woods's Stone Barrington books for a long time, but for some reason I never got around to them. When I had a chance to listen to the audiobook of the latest one, Collateral Damage, I took at as a sign and gave the book a try.

Collateral Damage is the 25th book in the Stone Barrington series. I'm not sure if it's typical of all of them, but I loved it so much I almost want to start the series from the beginning. The truth is, I'll probably just start here and look forward the next installment, which comes out later this spring.

I'm not an expert on mystery genres, but I'd call this a combination of detective novel and spy thriller. Stone Barrington is an ex-cop and a lawyer in New York City. I couldn't quite tell if Stone still practices law, though, because the story line didn't involve that kind of case. Regardless, he seems to be quite well off and lives in a large building right in the city, with an office on the first floor and living quarters on the floors above.

Stone's girlfriend, Holly Barker, is the assistant CIA director and is actively pursuing a case of terrorism involving a woman who has been bombing strategic offices and people in England and the United States. The high-action and tightly edited plot revolves around the capture and/or elimination of the terrorist and her accomplices.

Although it is clear that the main characters have a history, I quickly figured out their personalities and relationships. I'm sure the excellent narration by Tony Roberts helped in that regard. I thought he individualized the voices just enough to allow me to understand each person's idiosyncrasies without getting in the way of my being able to form my own opinions. Thus I soon connected with Stone and Holly and the people in their orbit.

However, I wish I had started the series with the book just before this one, Severe Clear, because the action in Collateral Damage begins a few weeks after the previous book, and the cases are clearly connected. Fortunately, Woods included enough background information to get me up to speed, so I wasn't lost.

I loved the energy of the book both in terms of the case (bombings, hidden cameras, competition among the security agencies, danger) and in terms of the relationships among the characters (friends, lovers, business colleagues). The behind-the-scenes look at the workings of international security was interesting and not overly technical. In fact, some of the gadgets used by both our heroes and the bad guys were everyday items.

My recommendation? Don't hold back--start reading Stuart Woods's Stone Barrington series tomorrow. If you don't want to go back to the beginning, pick up book 24, Severe Clear, so you can catch all of the most recent plot line. On the other hand, I loved the characters so much, I may read a few of the earlier installments so I can get to know them better.

As I mentioned, I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Penguin Audio, 7 hr, 23 min) read by Tony Roberts, who I think has narrated most if not all of the series. This is my first experience with Roberts, and I enjoyed his characterizations and appreciated his skill at projecting author Stuart Woods's well-crafted pacing. I'm already hooked on the audiobooks for this series.

Buy Collateral Damage at an Indie or at bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
Penguin USA, 2013
ISBN-13: 9780399159862
Rating: B+

Source: Review--audio (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


bermudaonion 2/28/13, 9:25 AM  

I'm listening to Severe Clear right now and it's so good - I'm loving Tony Roberts' narration.

rhapsodyinbooks 2/28/13, 9:44 AM  

Oh I so hate this review! It's making me want to dig into this [yet another] series right now, and I can't possibly want to start a series that has 25 books, even though you say I could start at 24, because can a person so OCD as I really do that? But maybe I could try, because it sounds great! But maybe I should go back to the beginning. gaaaaaaaaaah!

Daryl 2/28/13, 1:19 PM  

i cant remember which of these i have read but i know its been a long time since i did and back then Stone's girlfriend wasnt named Holly ...

Julie 2/28/13, 4:28 PM  

I'm glad you enjoyed. Stone does practice law but more than anything he handles things off the radar for the law firm. :)

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 2/28/13, 7:59 PM  

I loved his earliest Stone Barrington books the best, and was disappointed by more recent ones. (Haven't tried this one, so glad to hear you liked it)

Sandy Nawrot 3/1/13, 7:02 AM  

Back in the day, I read every Stone Barrington that came out. I stopped maybe 5 to 8 books back because it started to get a little trashy. I do like his persona and the mysteries are smart. I know I just got this audio from Penguin, and I may have the previous one...I'm going to put it in the queue!

Julie P. 3/1/13, 3:46 PM  

I've never read one of these either, but all of these comments plus your review are convincing me that I should.

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