“Worst Fears Realized” by Stuart Woods

Woods, Stuart. Worst Fears Realized (1999)  
HarperCollins, 332 pages, $25.00 hard cover  
ISBN 0 06 019182 1

Stone Barrington is up to his usual activities. At the beginning of Worst Fears Realized, he picks up Susan Bean, a female attorney who was the assistant prosecutor on a recent high-profile case. Susan and Stone go back to her apartment, then order Chinese take-out food. Stone goes to pick up the food, and by page 11 he has returned to find Susan in a pool of blood in her kitchen, her throat slit.

Within another 10 pages Stone has identified the body of his long-time secretary. She had stayed late at Stone’s home office to work on some documents the night before and was apparently hit over the head and killed on her way home. 

Two deaths so close together could be a coincidence. But Stone thinks not when he and his former NYPD partner, Dino Bacchetti, watch from a window in Stone’s house as his neighbor—who happens to enjoy vacuuming in the nude—has her throat slit by an intruder. (This murder occurs on pages 28-29, so I’m not giving much of the story away here.)

Ex-cop Stone Barrington fears he’s now living every police officer’s worst nightmare. As his buddy Dino puts it, “The idea that somebody you’ve busted and sent up will come back to haunt you, to get even. I think that, after getting killed in the line of duty, it’s every cop’s worst fear” (26-27).

Dino’s seductive sister-in-law, Dolce, provides the usual Stone Barrington plot complications as Stone and Dino work to identify the vengeful killer. These novels are becoming standard fare for Woods, and he’s becoming increasingly more formulaic as he continues to crank them out.

© 2000 by Mary Daniels Brown

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