Categorized | Features

Doing Hard Time, by Stuart Woods. Published 2013

Stone Barrington returns in Doing Hard Time
This is a Stone Barrington novel, which is a major clue for Stuart Woods fans about the style and content. If the long series of Stone Barrington novels has managed to slip past you, you should know that Stone is a rich New York lawyer who, over the years, has become increasingly adept at eating at fancy restaurants and spending huge amounts of money on airplanes, cars and houses.
At one time he was a cop and Dino Bacchetti, his friend from his days on the force, still carries a badge and comes along to offer advice and help with the eating at fancy restaurants. In the first Barrington novel he even saved Stone’s life, but those days are gone. Stone no longer gets into much trouble; he mostly figures out who the bad guys are and gets other people to apprehend them.
And Stone invariably meets a beautiful woman early on and they have sex. Luckily, Woods seems to have decided that the excruciatingly detailed descriptions were getting to be a bit much and now they are simply alluded to, as in “I’m going to ravish you.” And he did.
Okay . . . what’s actually happening this time? Mostly it’s the return of arch criminal (or maybe he’s really a good guy) Teddy Fay. Teddy is on the run from just about everyone, having killed a number of people he felt deserved an early exit from their time on earth.
The first thing he does is run to a small town (a service station and a motel) and get a job as a mechanic. Teddy is good with his hands and can fix anything. He can also hack into any computer in the world without getting caught. He’s been there about 20 minutes when some bad guys come along and discuss (in Russian) how they plan to kill some good guys have just checked into the motel.
The good guys happen to be Stone’s son and his two friends, on their way to Hollywood to make a feature film and a lot of money, although Peter — Stone’s son — already has almost as much money as his dad.
Teddy, who of course speaks Russian, acts quickly and deals with the bad guys in a decisive manner that involves gunfire and a backhoe. There is little evidence of his decision to deal with the bad guys.
Turns out the bad guys are merely strong-arm stooges who have been given a simple task. The bad guys higher up the food chain investigate and bring in smarter stooges, who are also dealt with in a decisive manner by Teddy.
So Teddy is now doing a major favour for Stone, although Stone does not become aware of this for some time. (Teddy has changed his appearance and Stone believes he is Billy Burnett or, sometimes, Barnett.)
So the plot is pretty predictable. Teddy continues to kill people who really need it and everything turns out okay. Luckily, Woods has been doing this for years and is good at it. He’s got a formula that works and he churns out books that are slick and fun to read.
And Teddy seems to achieve a certain level of redemption. Good guy after all.