cover image The Money Shot

The Money Shot

Stuart Woods and Parnell Hall. Putnam, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1859-8

Blackmail drives bestseller Woods and Edgar-finalist Hall’s exciting second novel starring former CIA agent Teddy Fay (after 2016’s Smooth Operator). Teddy is working as a stunt man on an action film for Centurion Studios in Hollywood when the female lead, Tessa Bachetti, comes to him with a problem. Someone is threatening to release a compromising video taken without Tessa’s knowledge during her student days at Oxford that could ruin her career, unless she agrees to vote her shares in Centurion stock in favor of those, hidden by shell companies, who are seeking a hostile takeover of the studio at the next shareholders meeting (over which lawyer Stone Barrington, the hero of Woods’s long-running main series, will preside). Teddy sets out to identify and take out those behind the scheme, who burn down his house and otherwise try to eliminate him. The authors slyly upset the readers’ expectations in a number of scenes where the good guys seem to be in mortal peril. A tight plot, distinctive villains, and a neat resolution make this entry a winner. Agent: Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit. (Aug.)