Dirt

Stuart Woods, Author
Stuart Woods, Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (0p) ISBN 978-0-06-017666-2
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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.)
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