Michael Cavacini

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Archive for the tag “Stuart Woods”

What I Read In 2016

fullsizerender-56I use Goodreads’ “Reading Challenge” feature to keep track of what I read, and in 2016 I read 50 books. I set out to read 20, so I exceeded my goal by 250%! Below is a sampling of what I read in 2016.

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Three Books To Read This Spring

My to-read list is massive and I’m sure yours is too. Since deciding what to read next can be hard, here are my three recommendations for what to read this spring.

KEEP QUIET by Lisa Scottoline

My girlfriend, Stephanie, and I meeting Lisa Scottoline at her book signing for Keep Quiet on April 19.

My girlfriend, Stephanie, and I meeting Lisa Scottoline at her book signing for Keep Quiet on April 19.

This past Saturday my girlfriend, Stephanie, and I attended Lisa Scottoline’s book signing for her new novel, Keep Quiet, at the Barnes & Noble in Cherry Hill, NJ. Lisa’s mother just passed away last week, so I wasn’t sure if she was going to have the book signing. But after cancelling a few dates on her book tour, Lisa persevered and decided to do her last two book signings. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Lisa, using her infectious humor, found a way to leave everyone smiling by the end of the event. Yes, she spoke about “Mother Mary” passing away, but she also made sure to inject several funny stories about her mother that had the crowd in stitches. And Lisa remembered many fans, including myself, by name and embraced us with hugs and well wishes. For my money, no author is as warm and loving to her fans as Lisa Scottoline.

But let’s get to the book. Keep Quiet is next on my to-read list and as you can see from the synopsis below, it sounds like it should be an intriguing and compelling read. I can’t wait to crack it open and based on the early reviews, it’s one of Scottoline’s best books in recent years. Keep an open eye out for my review of the book in the coming weeks.

And, if you haven’t already read it, you can check out my interview with Lisa Scottoline here.

Keep Quiet Synopsis

New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award winning author Lisa Scottoline is loved by millions of readers for her suspenseful novels about family and justice. Scottoline delivers once again with Keep Quiet, an emotionally gripping and complex story about one man’s split-second decision to protect his son – and the devastating consequences that follow.Jake Buckman’s relationship with his sixteen-year-old son Ryan is not an easy one, so at the urging of his loving wife, Pam, Jake goes alone to pick up Ryan at their suburban movie theater. On the way home, Ryan asks to drive on a deserted road, and Jake sees it as a chance to make a connection. However, what starts as a father-son bonding opportunity instantly turns into a nightmare. Tragedy strikes, and with Ryan’s entire future hanging in the balance, Jake is forced to make a split-second decision that plunges them both into a world of guilt and lies. Without ever meaning to, Jake and Ryan find themselves living under the crushing weight of their secret, which threatens to tear their family to shreds and ruin them all. Powerful and dramatic, Keep Quiet will have readers and book clubs debating what it means to be a parent and how far you can, and should, go to protect those you love.

EVERYTHING TO LOSE by Andrew Gross

Everything to Lose by Andrew Gross comes out on April 22.

Everything to Lose by Andrew Gross comes out on April 22.

Another one of my favorite authors is Andrew Gross, who I also interviewed last year. You can check it out here. He has a new novel coming out tomorrow entitled Everything to Lose. I’m reading it right now and will be reviewing it soon. I’m happy to report that it’s very entertaining and, in my opinion, better than his previous book, No Way Back. I highly recommend you order a copy of Everything to Lose and give it a shot. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You can buy the book here.

Everything to Lose Synopsis 

A determined, (down on her luck,) mother caring for her handicapped son becomes entangled in a murderous conspiracy to keep a twenty year old secret buried in this blistering thriller, set during the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, from Andrew Gross, the New York Times bestselling author of 15 Seconds and No Way Back.

While driving along a suburban back road, Hilary Blum, who’s just lost her job and whose deadbeat husband has left her alone to care for her son with Asperger’s, witnesses a freakish accident. A car ahead of her careens down a hill and slams into a tree. Stopping to help, she discovers the driver dead—and a satchel stuffed with a half a million dollars.

That money could prevent her family’s ruin and keep her special needs son in school. In an instant, this honest, achieving woman who has always done the responsible thing makes a decision that puts her in the center of maelstrom of dark consequences and life-threatening recriminations—a terrifying scheme involving a twenty-year-old murder, an old woman who’s life has been washed out to sea, and a powerful figure bent to keep the secret that can destroy him hidden.

With everything to lose, everything she loves, Hilary connects to a determined cop from Staten Island, reeling from the disaster of Sandy, to bring down an enemy who will stop at nothing to keep what that money was meant to silence, still buried.

CARNAL CURIOSITY by Stuart Woods

Carnal Curiosity by Stuart Woods debuted at #1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

Carnal Curiosity by Stuart Woods debuted at #1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

My first interview of the year was with the legendary thriller writer Stuart Woods, famous for his Stone Barrington series that has been going strong for decades. The newest installment in the series, Carnal Curiosity, just debuted at #1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list. Once I’m done Lisa Scottoline’s Keep Quiet, this one’s next, so stay tuned for my review. Based on how enjoyable Woods’ recent novels have been, I also recommend you pick up a copy of Carnal Curiosity.

Carnal Curiosity Synopsis 

Stone Barrington seems to have a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When Manhattan’s elite are beset by a series of clever crimes—and Stone is a material witness—he and his former partner Dino Bacchetti find themselves drawn into the world of high-end security and fraud, where insider knowledge and access are limited to a privileged few, and the wealthy are made vulnerable by the very systems meant to keep them safe. As Stone and Dino delve deeper into their investigation, they learn that the mastermind behind the incidents may have some intimate ties to Stone . . . and that the biggest heist is still to come.

Book Review: Standup Guy by Stuart Woods

Standup Guy jacketI just returned from Mexico and during my trip I finished reading Stuart Woods’ latest Stone Barrington novel, Standup Guy. As expected, it’s a terrific read that goes down as smoothly as a glass of Knob Creek. In addition to having a wonderfully unpredictable plot, the book references and builds on previous storylines and there’s an interesting political element as well. The Stone Barrington series has been around for 23 years and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. For those looking to read a high-quality mystery filled with action and intrigue, look no further: Standup Guy delivers.

Synopsis

Stone Barrington’s newest client does not seem the type to bring mayhem in his wake. A polite, well-deported gentleman, he comes to Stone seeking legal expertise on an unusual—and potentially lucrative—dilemma. Stone points him in the right direction and sends him on his way, but it’s soon clear Stone hasn’t seen the end of the case. Several people are keenly interested in this gentleman’s activities and how they may relate to a long-ago crime . . . and some of them will stop at nothing to find the information they desire.

On a hunt that leads from Florida’s tropical beaches to the posh vacation homes of the Northeast, Stone finds himself walking a tightrope between ambitious authorities and seedy lowlifes who all have the same prize in their sights. In this cutthroat contest of wills, it’s winner-takes-all . . . and Stone will need every bit of his cunning and resourcefulness to be the last man standing.

Author Interview: Stuart Woods

Stuart Woods Photo Credit Harry BensonStuart Woods is one of the first thriller writers whose work I fell in love with. His characters have fantastic names like Felicity Devonshire, Vance Calder and, my all-time favorite, Stone Barrington. I’m constantly impressed by the fluidity of his prose, as well as his wonderfully descriptive romantic scenes. There have been countless occasions when I stopped reading one of his books to recite a passage to a friend because I was so impressed by the use of adjectives, verbs and metaphors. Simply stated, he’s a terrific writer everyone should read. Speaking of which, Stuart Woods has a new Stone Barrington novel available: Standup Guy. Make sure to pick up a copy after reading my interview with the author below.

After graduating college, you started out working at several advertising agencies. What made you realize advertising wasn’t for you, and how did your time in the industry influence your future writing?

I found the advertising business to be a wonderful preparation for writing professionally. I always advise young people who want to write for a living to find a job in advertising, journalism, PR – any profession that requires you to sit down and write a thousand words a day, whether you feel like it or not. Advertising did that for me, and in addition, I had to satisfy some very demanding bosses – some of the best writers in the business – who wanted persuasive writing and every word to count. I left because I felt I had gone as far as I was going to go in that business, and because I had wanted to write fiction since I was a child, and leaving advertising forced me to finally write the novel I had been thinking about since I was ten.

Chiefs - Stuart Woods

Your first novel, Chiefs, earned you an Edgar Award. How did it feel to be honored by your peers for your first novel?

I didn’t know the Mystery Writers of America were my peers, since I had never heard of the award, though I was very happy to receive it. I thought I had written a novel about how small towns worked, but I was delighted that they found it to be mysterious.

Chiefs was turned into a TV miniseries with a stellar cast of actors, including Charlton Heston, Danny Glover, Billy Dee Williams, and John Goodman. Did you have an active role in the creation of the miniseries, and did it live up to your expectations?

I didn’t write the screenplay, but the producers were kind enough (and smart enough) to send me every draft of the screenplay and solicit my comments and suggestions. I made a lot of those, and they even accepted some of them, particularly in casting. Heston’s character, Hugh Holmes was based on James S. Peters, a father of my home town, and I interviewed him at length about the town’s history. I loaned the tapes of that interview to Heston, and he used them to create his character and his accent. I was delighted with the miniseries; I thought it true to both the plot of the novel and its intent. I played a small part in the mini-series, and they made me travel to New York to read for it. I had a two-minute scene with Billy Dee Williams, a fine actor who, for some reason, could not remember his lines. We rehearsed at length, shot it, then rehearsed some more and shot it a couple of more times. He finally got his lines right, whereas I was perfect throughout. I thought, “This acting thing isn’t so tough; after all I knew my lines.” Then I saw the series at a screening: Billy Dee was wonderful, and I came off as a blithering idiot. I thought, “Maybe there’s something to this acting thing, after all.”

Under The Lake - Stuart WoodsI thought your standalone thriller, Under the Lake, was one of your best. It’s very different from your other work but just as captivating. It even attracted the attention of Stephen King, who lauded the book by saying, “it scared the living hell” out of him. More than 25 years later, what’s your opinion on the novel?

I reread it when someone was writing a screenplay (ultimately unproduced) from it, and I liked it a lot. I tried to get Simon & Schuster to use King’s comment, which was one line in a fulsome letter he wrote about the book, and they wouldn’t. They wanted to say, “It scared the living heck out of me.” (!)

For the past several years you’ve been providing fans with a steady flow of Stone Barrington novels. Do you plan on revisiting any of your other series or writing any new standalone thrillers?

My publisher persuaded me to write only Stone novels in a new contract (he offered me money, and I can be bought). I think he meant that he wanted the words, “A Stone Barrington Novel” on every cover. I tricked him by including all the other series characters in the various novels. Anyway, my readers who write to me like Stone best.

Having written 28 Stone Barrington novels, how do you keep your books fresh?

I have a fevered imagination and a rich fantasy life, which helps with the sex scenes.

Blue Water, Green Skipper - Stuart Woods

Your memoir about sailing, Blue Water, Green Skipper, was re-released in 2012. How did the fans of your thrillers respond to Blue Water, Green Skipper when it was, once again, made available to the public?

I’ve had a great deal of mail about the book from readers – most of them, yachtsmen, and they were all warm in their praise. Reading it allowed me to revisit a happy time in my life. One day, I’ll write a full-blown autobiography, and I’ve reserved the right to plug the old book into the new one. I don’t think I can write about that time of my life any better.

Many popular writers, including James Patterson, have increased their productivity by collaborating with other authors on novels. Some readers don’t care for this practice because they feel having a co-author dilutes the end product, while others are perfectly fine with it. What’s your opinion on the matter, and would you ever collaborate with another author on a book?

I’ve never done that, though my publisher says he would like it. I’ve instructed my widow-to-be to call my agent as soon as I’m dead and hire a few writers, and I’ve explained to her that Jim Patterson makes more money than God.

Standup Guy jacket

Since you’re working on and releasing multiple books a year, how do you go about keeping track of all the characters and details from novel to novel?

My characters exist for me in an alternate universe; I know exactly what’s happened to them, though they know nothing about me. Apparently, they don’t read. I seem to have a gift for keeping their stories in memory.

What are you working on now and what’s next for Stone Barrington?
There are two Stone novels completed and awaiting publication, and I’ll finish another this week. Standup Guy is coming out on January 7th. 

2013: It Was A Very Good Year

New Year - Philadelphia2013 was my first full year of blogging, and it was a great one. I wrote 174 posts and exceeded 20,000 views, reaching people in 118 countries. I also had the honor and privilege of interviewing some of my favorite authors, actors and musicians, including:

  1. Lisa Scottoline
  2. Andrew Gross
  3. Melissa Manchester
  4. Michael Des Barres
  5. Douglas Preston
  6. Jon Land
  7. M.J. Rose
  8. Steven James
  9. Taylor Stevens
  10. Donald Bain
  11. Thomas B. Sawyer 
  12. Dick Hill

And 2014 is shaping up to be an even bigger year with interviews already scheduled with 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee John Oates and bestselling author Stuart Woods.

Thanks to all of you who regularly read my posts, as well as those who take the time to comment. Speaking of which, below are my top commenters’ great blogs. Make sure to check them out:

2013 was my best year yet, both personally and professionally, and I plan on making 2014 even more special.

Happy New Year!

Book Review: Doing Hard Time by Stuart Woods

Doing Hard Time - Stuart WoodsI just finished Stuart Woods’ latest Stone Barrington novel, Doing Hard Time, and I have to say it was a great read. Similar to previous books in the series, it moved at a brisk pace, featured edge-of-your-seat action and had compelling characters. Speaking of which, my favorite character in the book was Teddy Fay, a mysterious and formidable figure who has made guest appearances in previous Barrington novels, as well as other series penned by Woods. While Stone takes a back seat this time out, his supporting role made for a refreshing change of pace. Also worth noting is the wonderfully descriptive romantic scenes Woods has become known for are nowhere to be found. While some may prefer the abridged intimate encounters present in this book, I sincerely hope the full-length descriptions return the next time around. Doing Hard Time is a fun, fast-paced novel that Stone Barrington and thriller fans will enjoy. If you’re looking for a good read, I highly recommend you check it out. You can buy it herehttp://tinyurl.com/k2ta223.

Synopsis

When Stone Barrington embarks on a trip to Bel-Air to check in on some business and personal concerns, he expects a relaxing break from the fast pace and mean streets of New York. But trouble never takes a vacation, and it has a way of finding Stone. A case that had seemingly been resolved has returned in full force—with lethal results. And this deadly situation makes for strange bedfellows when Stone finds himself teamed with the least likely ally . . . a gentleman of unique abilities, who can fly below the radar and above the law.

From the high-stakes poker tables of Las Vegas to California’s lush beachside resorts, the trail of disguise, subterfuge, and murder leads to a shocking conclusion.

Book Review – Unintended Consequences by Stuart Woods

Unintended Consequences JacketStuart Woods is one of my favorite authors for a variety of reasons. He comes up with terrific characters names. For example, Felicity Devonshire, Arrington Calder, and, of course, the best belongs to the star of his ever-popular book series: Stone Barrington. Woods is also a gifted writer; his sentence structure is varied and infused with inspired word usage, and Woods’ ability to vividly describe a romantic scene is unrivaled.

Like many writers who’ve achieved great success, Woods has been accused of becoming lazy, churning out book after book, focusing on quantity instead of quality. While I’ve noticed a distinct dip in his ability to create a novel that keeps me guessing from start to finish, I still find myself enamored by his characters and impressed with the fluidity of his prose. Yes, he may not be writing at the level of Harlan Coben anymore, but spending time with Stone Barrington, Dino Bacchetti and Holly Barker feels like coming home and catching up with old friends. Which brings us to my thoughts on Woods’ latest novel, Unintended Consequences.

Unintended Consequences kept me entertained from cover to cover. Speaking of which, this book’s cover is beautiful – easily the best I’ve seen this year. A good portion of the novel is set in one of my favorite cities, Paris, where Stone Barrington finds himself ensnared by mysterious circumstances. Unlike Dan Brown’s Inferno, where the lead character also had amnesia, Woods deftly handled Barrington’s challenging situation without leaving the reader feeling betrayed. Unintended Consequences moved along at an incredibly brisk pace without resorting to the pedestrian vernacular that is commonly found in similar books. As a writer, I appreciated this, as well as the palpable new characters – my favorite being the sophisticated Marcel duBois.

I blew through Unintended Consequences in less than a week because it was an easy, captivating read. While it wasn’t a convoluted mystery, it didn’t need to be. It told an easy-to-follow story from start to finish and whet my appetite for the next Stone Barrington adventure. Not only did I get to spend time with some of my favorite characters in fiction, I learned a few new words along the way. What more could I ask for? It didn’t blow me away, but after reading the last page, I felt satisfied. And, for me, that’s what’s most important – feeling that my time was well spent. If you like thrillers, give this one a shot. It may not be Stuart Woods’ greatest novel, but it’s a worthy addition to a formidable series.

Stuart Woods Photo Credit Harry BensonSynopsis 

Stone Barrington is no stranger to schemes and deceptions of all stripes—as an attorney for the premier white-shoe law firm Woodman & Weld, he’s seen more than his share. But when he travels to Europe under highly unusual circumstances, Stone finds himself at the center of a mystery that is, even by his standards, most peculiar. Two unexpected invitations may be the first clues in an intricate puzzle Stone must unravel to learn the truth . . . a puzzle that will lead him deep into the rarefied world of European ultrawealth and privilege, where billionaires rub elbows with spooks, insider knowledge is traded at a high premium, and murder is never too high a price to pay for a desired end. It soon becomes clear that beneath the bright lights of Europe lurks a shadowy underworld . . . and its only rule is deadly ambition.

Book Review – Lucid Intervals by Stuart Woods

Lucid IntervalsStuart Woods is one of my favorite fiction writers. I’ve read many of his Stone Barrington and Holly Barker books, as well as a handful of his standalone novels. Most recently I read Lucid Intervals, a Stone Barrington novel, and it was very good. Unlike other thriller writers, Woods’ books don’t move at a break-neck pace. The chapters are longer and the convolution is kept to a minimum. This book highlights an area in which Woods excels: character development. His ability to craft memorable characters throughout this series of books is marvelous. Whether it’s Stone’s many – and I mean many – sexual encounters or Herbie Fisher’s moronically endearing personality, I found myself looking forward to all the encounters between the key and tertiary characters in the novel. The plot was fascinating and the conclusion was satisfying. While it didn’t feature all the twists and turns of Harlan Coben novel, that’s not the way Stuart Woods writes. If you’re a fan of the series or looking to try a different author in the mystery and thriller genre, you can’t go wrong with Lucid Intervals. It’s a compelling story that is well worth your time.

Official Synopsis 

It seems like just another quiet night at Elaine’s. Stone Barrington and his former cop partner Dino are enjoying their drinks when in walks former client and all-around sad sack Herbie Fisher… with a briefcase full of cash and in need of a lawyer.

But while he’s trying to fend off Herbie, Stone is propositioned by another potential client, this one a bit more welcome. A beautiful MI6 agent, Felicity Devonshire has a missing persons case she needs solved—and she knows from experience how very useful Stone can be.

Stone’s investigation takes him into the posh world of embassy soirees and titled privilege, where high society meets government intrigue. And when trouble follows him from his luxurious Manhattan brownstone to his tranquil summer home in Maine, Stone has to decide what to do with the explosive information he’s uncovered.

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