TURBULENCE

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New York attorney/secret agent manqué Stone Barrington’s latest takes him from a Category 5 hurricane to a rogue nuclear device, all without a single frisson of suspense.

Wouldn’t you know it? Stone’s closed on his posh new digs in Key West just in time to welcome Hurricane Irma, which shutters the airport hours ahead of his planned departure. Every domicile on the island is damaged, but Stone’s not so much; he loses electricity and cellphone reception, but a gasoline generator supplies power; so the worst effect of the storm is to bring Florida Sen. Joseph P. Box, whom Secretary of State Holly Barker, Stone’s old friend and lover, has privately accused of unusually forthright sexual harassment, to his home, where Stone manfully shelters him until the storm blows over. Then it’s on to man-made disaster. Box arranges bail for jailed arms dealer Selwyn Owaki, whom Stone helped put away last time around (Shoot First, 2018), and when Owaki instantly flees the country, CIA chief Lance Cabot enlists Stone’s help in crashing a private dinner Owaki’s set up in London with Box in order to prevent a nuclear device in Owaki’s possession from falling into even worse hands. Stone’s not eager to help, and even less eager when he hears that gunplay may feature in the evening’s entertainment. But urged on by his latest inamorata, model Kelly Smith, he agrees to be the agency’s inside man for this one night and then watches events spiral out of control. The upshot sends Kelly and Stone to Stone’s house in Paris and then to Zurich, back to Stone’s house in London, which serves as his home base for another abortive shot at Owaki, back to Stone’s house in Key West, and back again to London in pursuit of Owaki. Fans may see a pattern here.

Woods’ consumerist hero doesn’t purchase any new real estate this time out, but he does qualify to fly another new aircraft. Plus, that nuclear device doesn’t explode. Nice.

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