IF HE RUNS by Stuart Woods, G. P.
Putnam’s Sons - New York, © 2007 by Stuart Woods, ISBN-978-0-397-15444-7, 293 pp,
$25 (US), $29 (CAN). Penguin Audio Book,
www.penguin.com , © 2007,
ISBN-978-0-14-414246-1, Seven CDs – eight hours read by Tony Roberts, $29.95 (US)
Reviewed by Del Meyer, MD
Goin’ to Black Mountain
Take my razor and my gun
Gonna cut him if he stands still
Shoot him if he runs.
Black Mountain Blues by J. C. Johnson
Him If He Runs is Stuart
Woods’ Book 14 in the Stone Barrington series, fifth in the Holly Barker series,
second in the William Henry Lee series and second in the Teddy (Theodore) Fay series.
Barrington, an attorney and former detective with the New York Police Department
(NYPD), is invited to the White House for dinner. He meets President William Henry
Lee in the oval office and over cocktails, the president discusses Teddy Fay. Teddy
had formerly worked in the CIA and since his leaving with narry a trace or photograph
in his file, began killing right wing Republicans. He allegedly died in a small
airplane crash. When a number of Middle Easterners unfriendly to the United States
were being killed, it was assumed that Teddy Fay must still be alive. He was then
thought to have died in a building explosion and an unidentified body was his. The
previous week when a lady who had reported her homeless father as being missing
brought in her own DNA sample. It was then determined that the body that was found
was her own father. Now it appeared that Teddy Fay had made another escape.
Lee is now running for re-election and can’t afford to have Teddy show up again,
which would cast aspersions on the CIA. This is critical since his wife Katherine
Rules Lee was the unpopular CIA Director. The president and Mrs. Lee decided that
Teddy has to be found. He was thought to be residing on St. Marks Island in the Caribbean.
president wanted Stone, along with CIA agent, Holly Barker, to make the trip and
investigate. The president chose Stone because of his popularity and success in crime
investigation and because he had made several large contributions to President
Lee’s campaign. As he recited all of Stone’s successes, Stone was stunned by all
the details the president knew and was told that this meeting “never occurred.”
had worked with Holly Barker at the CIA. She appeared in the Oval Office in such
effective disguise, including with red hair, that Barrington hardly recognized her.
Then Dino Bicchetti, who formerly worked with Stone in the NYPD walked in with his
friend, Genevieve James. After a round of introductions, the President and Mrs. Lee
excused themselves to join the hundreds that were gathering for the CIA dinner.
Lance, the acting Chief at the CIA walked in and said he would brief Stone and Holly
on the details of their investigation after the dinner and in the morning before they
all left for St. Marks. Dino’s friend Genevieve had already been briefed
superficially and sworn to secrecy in order to make it appear that the foursome was
on vacation on a tropical isle.
briefing the next morning included the fact that Irene Foster, a former CIA agent was
residing in retirement on St. Marks. There was a feeling that she might know about
Teddy Fay since they worked together and may have given Teddy the information he
needed to continue as a master spy and murderer after leaving the service. The CIA
had thoroughly investigated the possibility of a security leak. But then it was Irene
Foster that conducted the investigation and reported to the Director that no leak was
their arrival, one of the party is arrested, interrogated, tortured, and his life
endangered. Irene Foster is notified of the situation and she makes a phone call.
Shortly thereafter, the Island’s Chief of Police’s head explodes while talking
with the CIA undercover agent and the headless person falls next to him. When another
corrupt official’s chest explodes, the delegation concludes that these are the
marks of their master sniper and spy; Teddy must be alive. But as another corrupt
official is hit as he’s leaving his Mercedes, the CIA and the president have
concluded that Teddy is too dangerous to be allowed to live. The orders are very
clear: he must be killed whether by stabbing “him if he stands still, or shoot him
if he runs.”
a very illuminating novel into the workings of the CIA, police detective work, the
primitive nature of detective work in the tropical isles, the corruption of
dictatorships even if posing as the Prime Minister, presidential politics,
Congressional oversight and how outcomes and resolutions have so many political
implications that the resolution may never include justice. But as with most spy
novels and legal thrillers, just as in the westerns, justice may better be served in
the field without the trial by attorneys. In California, you can be a famous
ballplayer and kill two people and be declared innocent.
the outcome and the journey to that end is another Stuart Woods’ tour de force
which also allows another Stone Barrington and Holly Barker thriller. Stuart Woods
has just made an arrangement with his publisher to write three novels a year instead
of two. So we shall see the next one soon.
Penguin Audio is read by Tony Roberts, a Tony nominee and gifted Broadway Stage
actor. He does a masterful job of impersonating not only the male characters, but
also the female spies. Truly a worthwhile listen in the car driving between hospitals
or to San Francisco. Or even in your own study or living room with the opened book to
give the dialogue a reality emphasis, if you have an extra eight hours.