cover image Near Miss

Near Miss

Stuart Woods and Brett Battles. Putnam, $29 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593540-06-0

The latest entry in the long-running series featuring New York City attorney Stone Barrington (following 2022’s Distant Thunder), completed by Battles after Woods’s death in 2022, is an unfortunate dud. Barrington, who’s romantically involved with U.S. president Holly Barker, picks up another woman, Matilda Martin, after witnessing her ill-treatment by her date, gangster Trench Molder. Molder, upset by the interference in his personal life, plots revenge on both Barrington and Martin. In response, Barrington enlists the help of NYPD commissioner Dino Bacchetti and other allies. The stakes get raised after Molder’s Russian mobster uncle, who has a preexisting beef with Barrington, gets involved. The authors make very little effort to convince readers events are taking place in the real world: the Secret Service allows Barrington to drive the president through busy city streets, while the Manhattan DA has enough spare resources to assign a prosecutor exclusively to handle parking scofflaws. Some of this would be forgivable were the plot itself exciting, but it’s marred by inconsistent momentum and unnecessary complexity. This is a big disappointment. Agent: Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (June)