Millionaire author Paul Phillips Manning died on board his yacht while on a Caribbean cruise with his sexy young wife, Allison. She claims he had a heart attack, and due to the climate and distance from port, she was forced to dispose of the body at sea. Sir Winston Sutherland, the minister of justice on the tiny island of St. Marks, isn't buying it and charges her with homicide. The trial and the execution could both be completed within a week. Vacationing New York lawyer and investigator Stone Barrington comes to the damsel's aid and soon winds up in her bed. Now in his fourth appearance, the suave and priapic Barrington soon finds himself embroiled in a case in which nothing is as it seems, from Allison's story to Manning's death to the agenda of the Charles Laughton^-like Sir Winston Sutherland. This is a cleverly plotted, witty crime caper with a dash of sex, a likably roguish hero, and a surprising twist at the finish. Great for lightweight summer reading. Wes Lukowsky
From Kirkus Reviews
Woods bounces back from the doldrums of his last few formula thrillers in this tidy did-she-do-it puzzler, nicely stirred by Caribbean breezes. When the 45-foot yacht Expansive puts into the island paradise of St. Marks, the only thing missing is the skipper, mystery novelist Paul Manning, who, his wife tearfully tells the authorities, suffered a fatal heart attack while she watched helplessly from high atop a mast, and had to be buried at sea. The story's good enough for the coroner's inquest, but not for Sir Winston Sutherland, the ambitious Minister of Justice, who thinks a high-profile conviction might be just the thing to vault him into the aging Prime Minister's post. Luckily for Allison, she has just the credentials (blond hair, killer bod, boundless sexual stamina) to secure herself the premier legal representation on St. Marks: vacationing New York lawyer Stone Barrington (Dirt, 1996, etc.), whose appetite for adventure, etc., has been whetted by the unexpected absence of his live-in girlfriend Arrington Carter. It's a case that suits Woods's talent for streamlined, unnuanced narrative down to the shoreline. With no witnesses but Allison--now enjoying a cool $12 million payoff from Paul's insurance--and virtually no physical evidence showing how (or even whether) Paul met his death, Stone doesn't have to bother arguing the facts; all he has to do is orchestrate a massive p.r. campaign designed to impress on the government what a disaster a conviction would be for St. Marks's crucial tourist industry-- while trying to find some wiggle room in the island's draconian trial law, which pretty much assumes that the accused is guilty and the real crime would be keeping the jury past dinnertime. Trying to make this neat, utterly unsurprising, tale-- Woods's best since L.A. Times (1993)--last more than one sitting would be like staying up all night nursing a Godiva truffle. (Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection; $300,000 ad/promo) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.