I just completed a real nutsy reading project. All for pleasure and each book with a predictable plot and ending and yet a page turner. I read all of Stuart Woods’ Stone Barrington novels.

I read a few of the books from time to time as I saw them on the new bookshelves in my local public library. At some point, I became interested in how the character got started and developed. He is fabulously wealthy with houses in New York, Key West, Los Angeles, Maine, South of England, London and Paris with staff at each location. He drives an armored car and flies his own plane and for longer trips, he hitches a ride on a plane owned by the second-largest security company in the world, and he is a one-third owner of a very large yacht. His best friend is Dino Bacchetti, the NYC Police Commissioner, and is best of friends with the President of the U.S. and her husband who is the past president, and a very intimate friend of the Secretary of State who is now running for president and who lives in a house Stone donated to the government for the purpose of being used as the residence of the Secretary of State.

He is friends with the head of the CIA who uses him on-demand as a special paid consultant, the head of British MI6 who is also his neighbor in England, and the richest man in France (the French Warren Buffett). He is a part-owner of a chain of hotels and a movie studio that his son and Dino’s son work at and practically run. He has a mysterious friend, with multiple identities, that was a former CIA agent that went rogue and for which Stone arranged for a sealed presidential pardon and who seems to be able to accomplish anything that needs to be done off the grid including murder. He has another friend that is a retired CIA operator that is a neighbor in Maine and who is always able to help Stone in a pinch.

He is also a partner in one of NYC’s premier law firms. Previously he was a police detective for 15 years who had to leave the force with a disability pension and since he had graduated law school before becoming a cop, he then took and passed the bar exam and became of counsel to the law firm that he is now a partner in. His protégé is a senior partner who seems to get every legal matter that needs to get done, done, and quickly, and who was a former goof-off. Stone has contacts everywhere that can get anything done but is very careful to not do anything that violates his legal oath and he is meticulous about paying his income taxes. His mother was a famous artist with paintings hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but he started out poor. His deceased wife inherited a fortune from her husband and was killed by a jealous lover soon after she married Stone and she left everything to Stone and her son with Stone the son’s trustee. She conceived her child days before her first marriage and Stone found out he was the father a while after her husband died and the son was about sixteen.

There is a lot more, but the bottom line is that the over 50 books were all great quick escape reading for me, were page-turners and something that I do not have to remember or take seriously. I finally caught up with all the Stone Barrington, Teddy Fay, and Herbie Fisher books and at some point, I’ll read the Ed Eagle, Holly Barker and Will Lee books, all of whom wander in and out of Stone’s life as the situation warrants.
Stone is an ageless central character, along with Dino and some others but his son who was born when Stone was about 40 has to be around 30 making Stone at least 70 but Stone still acts like he is still 40 – he certainly cannot do everything he does and be 70, at least the sexual activities. He beds every unmarried woman and many that are in the process of a divorce that just quite isn’t completed yet that he meets and somehow gets dumped by all of them while remaining friends with them. Stone is a clothes horse, a wine snob, has “tables” at his favorite restaurants and a consummate insider who remains under the publicity radar. This is fantasy at its finest but the characters are all mortal and look like anyone else and do not have superpowers except when the fantasy part kicks in. Oh, I should mention that the bad guys always want revenge and all end up dead providing each story with a happy ending. Each book has short summaries of Stone’s essential information worked into the thread of the story so you can read almost any book and follow the action and do not need to start with the earlier books.

Stuart Woods certainly has a good imagination to think up fifty versions of the same story while “living” out his fantasies or simply telling about his own jet-setting life. Either way, I found them all page-turners and am eagerly anticipating the next volume.

The beauty of this “project” is that I haven’t had to buy a single book. I took them all out of my local public library and the ones they did not have I requested through the library’s consortium of 30 other libraries they are part of. If you don’t regularly use your public library, you should.

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