Hot Mahogany

Stuart Woods’ latest book is entitled Hot Mahogany, a really clever title as the book deals with stolen antique furniture. I have to tell you that whenever one of Woods’ books is released, I usually show up at Barnes and Noble and spend about 4 hours total over 2 or 3 days reading the book for free. The reason for my frugality is that Woods has a contract to publish three books a year now, versus the two he was contracted for previously. They add up quick. The books are not what I would call literature, but they are a nice, quick escape full of fun and a mystery solved.

Two summers ago, a friend lent me about five of Woods’ paperbacks. They were some of his older material and I quickly read them and enjoyed them. I then found out Woods was the author of Chiefs, which was made into a miniseries in the 1980’s. I didn’t see the miniseries when it was on TV, but I do remember it starred one of my favorite actors, Charlton Heston. It also starred Keith Carradine and Billy Dee Williams. I really need to rent the video and see how it compares to the book.

The book Chiefs is actually Woods’ first novel, and I believe it to be his very best work. I would classify it as a piece of literature. After reading Chiefs and being very impressed by it, I finally did an internet search on Woods. It turns out that Woods, at the time, had written about 27 books.

Woods’ most popular character is Stone Barrington, an ex-New York City policeman, detective, and private eye. Stone is now a lawyer as the series has progressed. He is good looking, fit, funny, and all the women love him (including me). Stone’s ex-partner, Dino Bachetti, helps him solve the murders he gets mixed up in and Dino still works for New York’s finest and has been promoted through the series. Woods has a few other detectives, lawyers, businessmen, and politicians as his main characters. Sometimes these characters are alone in their own mysteries, but many times they interact with each other in the different series. He does have a female lead named Holly Barker who started out as a small town police chief and now works for the CIA.

Most of the action in the novels takes place in New York, Florida, Santa Fe, or Los Angeles, places in which Woods is very familiar. Hot Mahogany has Stone trying to solve a very old mystery dealing with some Vietnam War vets and profiteers, as well as the New England rich and what happens to the early American-crafted furniture they own as the years pass. Woods has a sub-plot about double-eagle coins, which is based on a true story. I enjoyed the book as a fun, quick read to divert me from my usual readings. Woods actually had to do more than his normal research for this novel.

A couple of weeks after I read the book (I read it a day or two after it was released), I noticed that the book was on the New York Times bestsellers list. Most of Woods’ books are on the list for a few weeks. So, if you like mysteries and are looking for a new author to read, try reading some of Stuart Woods’ 39 novels. He started writing very impressively with Chiefs, but now churns out three quick, fun, but formulaic reads a year. As you can read on his website, he lives a good life. Even though I realize he had great potential for above average literature, I can’t blame him for choosing his path and I enjoy his work immensely. I will read his next one as soon as it is released.