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Penguin Group USA
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Bel-Air Dead: A Stone Barrington Novel Kindle Edition
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It all starts off when Stone gets a call from his one time girlfriend Arrington Calder...she needs his counsel on some business and as a result he and his friend Dino take Stone's plane out to California. The business deal in question is the proposed sale of Centurion Studios..As it turns out through her late husband, actor Vance Calder, Arrington has a MASSIVE stake in the company..when I say massive I'm saying she's worth over a billion dollars (apparently nearly everyone Stone encounters in this book is a billionaire)...she doesn't want to sell to the shady Mr. Prince who may come from questionable drug cartel money as it so happens, but she'd like to invest the money in something else back home in Virginia...
The novel is really a quest of sorts to save the studio by helping studio exec Rick Barron gather a controlling interest in the studio or at the very least, have the share holders vote against the sale...when long time share holders start to run into certain misfortunes, things get dicey for Stone and the gang..
This really isn't a thriller as not very much happens in the way of the crimes committed against some of the share holders...it's not really a mystery either because the parties responsible for any wrong doing are patently obvious so there's not much left to wonder about...'whodunit' is pretty obvious...
The book really seems to be about Stone doing deals for rich people, primarily Arrington...selling this to buy that, buying an airplane, investing lots of money, cashing big checks...having dinner with other rich people, drinking cocktails with other rich people...as with some other recent novels in the series, it's more like reading lifestyles of the rich and famous than reading a book about a retired NYPD detective gone lawyer...
Sure, the emotional strings of the whole 'save the studio' aspect are pulled on...but it's hard to get emotionally invested in characters that want for nothing...it's fluff..reading multiple passages such as 'Well Arrington, you're $25 million richer', 'how nice, Stone', gets old quick quite frankly...
It's not ALL bad...the rapid fire dialogue, especially between Dino and Stone is back in full force..while it's more or less the 'same ole' it can still be fun to read..I'm just curious why the NYPD doesn't put out an APB on Dino...he never seems to be in the office, nor the city for that matter...the book also reads very quickly so it won't take up much of your time..
The book also seems to be an amalgamation of Wood's many series...as he did by mixing Stone in with Holly Barker, we get Rick Barron, Ed Eagle and a few of their supporting cast in on the book...I like the cohesive universe aspect and he does a good job of catching readers up on some of these other characters if you haven't read those series..
At the end of the day, if reading about 9 figure transactions, personal jets and six figure cars is your favorite thing then maybe this book is for you...I just found it way light on the story....I don't mind Stone hobnobbing with the rich and famous..until it becomes nearly the entire focal point of the whole novel...to me, that's fluff and a case of style over substance
Plot goes something like this: after an old actor in So Cal dies, he leaves his widow stock in Centurion Studios, which is located in lovely Bel Air. The widow, Arrington asks heron again off again lover and father of her kid Stone Barrington (really Arrington/Barrington?) to help her protect the property from a sleazy investment banker Prince who wants the property the centurion is on.
After a stockholder gets killed and Barrington assumes it's related, the story starts to get going. It's a quick read and not too much fluff, which I like. If you like this style but want more espionage, try The Sixth Man, more politics try the excellent Gods of Ruin
There is no tension in this book, and plenty of gaping plot holes. The head of Centurion Studios meets Stone and Dino for the first time, is perfectly well aware one of them is a police officer and the other used to be, and what does he do? He reminisces about a murder he committed in a previous Stuart Woods novel! If he's that dumb, or at least that senile, he deserves to lose the shareholder vote.
In addition, why does Centurion Studios have a Western town on its back lot? It's been decades since the Western genre was popular enough to justify that sort of expense.
My advice. Don't contribute to this vampire's bloated coffers. Save your money.
Private jets, $250 million homes, bed hopping with beautiful actresses and a NYPD homicide detective along for the ride. I thought it was poorly written, boring, frivolous, nonsense. I didn't finish this book.