cover image Below the Belt

Below the Belt

Stuart Woods. Putnam, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-57397-2

At the start of bestseller Woods’s thrilling 40th Stone Barrington novel (after 2016’s Dishonorable Intentions), the debonair New York lawyer agrees to do a favor for his friend former U.S. president Will Lee, who’s visiting Santa Fe, N.Mex., where Stone has just bought a house. All Stone has to do is drive into the nearby mountains and retrieve a strong case (a sort of high security suitcase) from another ex-president, Joe Adams, and deliver it to Will at the Santa Fe opera after that night’s performance. When a rock slide on the mountain road prevents Stone from making his rendezvous, he ends up spending a lot of time looking after the strong case, which contains a retired CIA agent’s memoir with explosive secrets. One person whose reputation could suffer from the memoir’s revelations is charismatic Nelson Knott, who’s considering a run for president as a third-party candidate—and whose wealthy supporters are prepared to go to any lengths on his behalf. Woods keeps the suspense high all the way to the dramatic conclusion. Agent: Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit. (Jan.)