cover image Distant Thunder

Distant Thunder

Stuart Woods. Putnam, $29 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-54003-9

During a severe storm, the body of a man, shot twice in the head, is found on the ferry to the island of Islesboro, Maine, in bestseller Woods’s twisty 63rd novel starring New York attorney Stone Barrington (after Black Dog). Inside the man’s wallet are credentials identifying him as CIA officer John Collins. At the request of the police, Stone, who has a house on the island, agrees to keep the corpse in his garage until the weather clears and it can be airlifted to the morgue. When Stone’s longtime paramour and houseguest, U.S. president Holly Barker, phones CIA director Lance Cabot, Cabot is at first equivocal and then denies Collins’s existence. The next day, Stone returns to New York, where he’s soon visited by Collins’s sexy widow, Vanessa Morgan, who confirms her husband worked for the CIA. Stone soon falls into bed with Vanessa—and narrowly avoids becoming the victim of a seductive female Russian agent at P.J. Clarke’s, his favorite restaurant. For a refreshing change, the imperturbable Stone doesn’t always keep his cool en route to the cinematic climax, a clash with faceless villains on boats off Key West, Fla. Chalk up another winner to Woods. Agent: Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Oct.)