cover image Worst Fears Realized

Worst Fears Realized

Stuart Woods. , $25 (332pp) ISBN 978-0-06-019182-5

There's an adequate crime tale embedded somewhere among the excess of upscale home, fashion and dining commentary here. Woods's (Orchid Beach) new novel opens on a high note as series hero Stone Barrington--attorney and ex-cop, he of the large wallet and larger libido--suffers a date from hell when his pickup, an attractive ADA, gets her throat cut while Stone is stepping out for Chinese food. The next night, Stone and a visitor, his former partner, NYPD Lt. Dino Bachetti, witness from Stone's window another woman getting her throat slashed. The murderer escapes, but the two men think they recognize him as a wife killer they put away 12 years ago. The problem is, Herbert Mitteldorfer is still in prison. Intrigue heightens as an old love reenters Stone's life, Mitteldorfer is paroled and the mysterious slasher attempts to kill Dino's wife. Dino's father-in-law, Eduardo Bianchi, a godfather-like philanthropist, ensure that Dino's wife and son are safe-guarded while he feeds Stone inside information. But Stone's romance isn't protected, and when the lawyer's girlfriend flees to England, he recklessly beds Bianchi's daughter, Dolce, even as the chase for the elusive killer heats up. This wan action is padded by much description of sumptuous meals (with lots of name brands), Stone's purchase of a luxury car and Connecticut retreat, and myriad scenes drawn from the society pages--Elaine of the famed Elaine's restaurant even turns in an extensive cameo. Woods still can write smart dialogue and knows how to pace, but it's hard to believe that the man who began his career with the dramatic, Edgar Award-winning Chiefs is tossing off inane stuff like this. Author tour; simultaneous audio and large-print editions. (Sept.)