Stuart Woods Month #2: Dead in the Water, Swimming to Carolina


Dead in the Water is the third installment in the Stone Barrington series of novels penned by Stuart Woods. First published by HarperCollins, in 1997, it follows the events of the second novel, Dirt. It continues the story of Stone Barrington, the retired detective turned private investigator/lawyer. In order to get away from his busy life in New York City, Barrington plans a trip to the lovely islands of St.Marks. Arrington Carter, his companion, was supposed to join him the next day. However, things get complicated when he helps a woman who docks a yacht in a Caribbean port claiming that her husband had died of heart attack and she had to bury him at sea. The authorities, on noting that there is an insurance policy for $12 million, charge her for murder. Apparently, with the local government intent on sentencing her to be hanged, Stone is her only hope. Although the narration feels a bit campy just like other books in the series, all the elements of a perfect murder mystery novel are present. Just when you begin to think that you have figured out everything, there would be a huge twist. Under the scorching Caribbean sun, the author brings in plenty of suspense as the protagonist discovers that even the most convincing people aren’t who they seem to be. Set in the shimmering waters off the Antigua coast, Dead in the Water is filed with greed, love and murder. The novel went on to become a massive hit and sold over 100,000, copies worldwide. It also established Stuart Woods as a master story teller.


This is the fourth novel in the Stone Barrington series published by HarperCollins, in 1998. Set in Los Angeles after the events of Dead in the Water, the attorney-adventurist Stone spends his time, as the title shows, swimming off the coast when he is summoned to Los Angeles to locate his former lover Arrington Carter, who’s been kidnapped. Stone starts drowning in the sea of empty clues and races with time to save her before he ends up swimming with the fishes by himself. He begins to uncover a huge money laundering scheme which results in enmity with the most powerful people of L.A. including a ruthless mobster and a corrupt labor fixer. Along the way, he romances beautiful women and meets interesting characters from previous books in the series, especially Dino, his once partner/sidekick. Although the novel has got no real substance, the author keeps you turning the pages. Woods is always great when it comes to presenting Barrington as the perfect male – tall, handsome, dark, intelligent and attractive to most women. Though the novel’s plot has no real depth, the author’s writing style is fluent and the words literally flow off the pages. As always, Stone finds himself in dangerous situations, but comes out on top, every time. With all the necessary elements such as crime, betrayal, mystery and love, Swimming to Carolina is a good crime thriller for a summer read.


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