Spies and lovers

Reviewed by Linda C. Brinson

TREASON. By Stuart Woods. Penguin Audio. Read by Tony Roberts. 7 ½ hours; 6 CDs. $35. Also available in print from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

There are Stone Barrington novels, and then there are Stone Barrington novels. 

This is one of the meatier Stone Barrington novels, enlivened by politics and international intrigue. 

You can pretty much count on all the ones published in recent years to include many descriptions of Stone’s great wealth and his lavish lifestyle, his private plane and yacht and his multiple homes in Europe and the United States.

 You can count on his amorous adventures with a seemingly inexhaustible string of intelligent, independent, and beautiful women who are quite content with his no-strings-attached, oh-so-civilized approach. Even the ones with whom he has something of a lasting relationship understand that when they aren’t available, he will entertain some of the others who always seem eager to oblige.

Lately, you can count on his hobnobbing with people in high places, including the president and former president of the United States (a husband-wife duo) and the secretary of State (one of his more regular romantic interests).

The books that don’t offer much more than trips to Paris and England and exquisite dinners and wines are amusing and entertaining visions of lifestyles most of us wouldn’t even dream about. Some of these have little more conflict or plot than a jealous ex-husband or lover or some glitch with a financial transaction.

Having come a bit late to the series – Treason is, I believe, No. 52 in the Stone Barrington series – I do wonder about some things, such as how a former New York City police detective, forced to retire, became fabulously wealthy, and how a partner in a New York law firm never seems to have to do much work. Maybe someday I’ll try to catch up on Stone’s remarkable path to becoming rich and powerful.

But it’s the recent books that seem to be inspired by today’s headlines that I find most entertaining.

In Treason, Stone is now a special advisor to the CIA. His frequent love interest, Holly Barker, the secretary of State, wants to resign from that job to run for president. (Never fear; she’s figuring out ways to keep things going with Stone, quietly.) Holly has been warned that there’s a mole in the State department, and Stone gets involved in helping to uncover the traitor.

Yet Stone has other things on his mind, including buying a new plane, a Gulfstream 500, because … he can. And then he has to fly it to Paris, of course, where he meets Peter Stone, a shady American investor who seems to be tight with a Russian oligarch named Yevgeny Chekhov.

The search for the mole plays out as Stone enjoys himself with two new lady friends and hobnobs with the rich and famous, or rich and infamous in some cases.

There’s plenty of intrigue and action, all heightened on the audio version of the book by the skilled narration of Tony Roberts. This is one of those Stone Barrington novels that provide a generous variety of entertainment, and, given recent news, it doesn’t seem especially farfetched.

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