cover image Contraband


Stuart Woods. Putnam, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-08313-0

Bestseller Woods’s diverting 50th Stone Barrington novel (after Wild Card) finds the New York attorney relaxing on a yacht anchored off Fort Jefferson, in Florida’s Dry Tortugas, when a small plane makes a forced landing nearby and sinks in the shallow water. Stone dives in and pulls the unconscious pilot, Al Dix, from the plane, which is carrying several large pieces of luggage. A helicopter rescue team flies Dix to Key West, where Stone is soon enjoying the favors of gorgeous policewoman Maxine “Max” Crowley. The investigation widens after the mysterious cargo disappears from the wrecked plane. The authorities have no clue what was in the luggage, and Dix isn’t talking. Back in New York, high-end clothing designer Roberta “Robbie” Calder wants Stone’s help in getting a divorce from her abusive husband. By chance, Stone’s connection to Robbie sheds light on the Florida case. The suspense falls off once the reader learns what Dix was smuggling, but it rises as the action builds toward a climactic showdown between Max and Robbie. Woods balances the criminal doings with loads of light banter and tantalizing glimpses of great sex. [em]Agent: Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Aug.) [/em]