Publication Date: September 3, 2013
In Collateral Damage by Stuart Woods, Stone Barrington and his sometimes lover, CIA Assistant Director Holly Barker, are at it again. Holly brings Stone a case with big risks. Will their lucky streak hold? Can they solve the case or will they be Collateral Damage? Collateral Damage is the 25th book in the Stone Barrington series. Stone Barrington is the perpetual manchild that is very lucky in sex but unlucky in love. You can set your watch by Stone. He uses up some oxygen at his favorite hangout, gets into a scrape, meets up with a sexy lady (ending up naked very soon thereafter) and then he does something smart and says something clever and ends up with a drink in his hand and a heart a little more battered and bada bing, you have a Stone Barrington novel. A funny thing happened on the way to the 25th installment; the world of Stone got very serious and very unpredictable. It’s almost as though Woods decided to step away from the lighthearted mystery and really push his characters to the dark side.
Perhaps the intensity is due to the fact that Stone is not the main character in this Stone Barrington book. Many of Woods’s past characters are referenced and Holly plays a significant role, but Stone is simply a member of the ensemble cast. This device has been used before in the series but never before to the extent it is in Collateral Damage. Where Stone is concerned, some of the improbable storylines continue. Stone’s son is a genius, he keeps attracting money and, yes, he’s still very lucky in sex. His relationships with his fellow characters, especially as it pertains to his role in the CIA, have always been improbable from the moment Holly asked him to be an agent and he told this the first person he saw. Those manufactured friendship ties remain in the current work. If there is a secondary character to Holly, it has to be President Will Lee, the main protagonist in another of Woods’ series. His wife, CIA Director Katherine Rule Lee, also plays a very active role. Really, while Collateral Damage has Dino’s and Elaine’s it could have better fit under Holly’s or Will’s series header.
The antagonist in Collateral Damage is a very clever female bomber named Jasmine, who is out to avenge the deaths of her brothers. Woods is always going to be a classic good vs. evil author, but his latest baddie is simply diabolical though, at times, quite sympathetic. The scariest baddies are always the one able to just slip in and out without ever being suspected. Her motivations are well plotted and unlike previous antagonists, they’re not contrived. Collateral Damage takes place on a world stage and perhaps those far-reaching possibilities open the author’s creativity.
Collateral Damage is 100% thriller with a sense of urgency and an entertaining read. If you have a free weekend, it’s well worth the time. There are continuing story lines, but Collateral Damage can easily stand on its own. Give it a shot and if you like it, prepare for a long backlist of books. Woods’s novels tend to be quick reads and my local library has all of them so, if you’re so inclined, I’d suggest visiting the local librarian.
Read a review of the twenty-fourth book in the Stone Barrington novel, Severe Clear.
Read an excerpt and buy Collateral Damage (A Stone Barrington Novel) by Stuart Wood on