Synopses & Reviews
Holly Barker, with the rest of the crowd, was called to her feet as the panel of officers filed into the courtroom. She was a spectator now, no longer a witness, but she wanted to be here for this.
Colonel James Bruno stood at the defense table, ramrod straight, and watched his judges with beady eyes. For the first time since his trial had begun, he was not smiling.
"Seats!" the clerk of the court called out, and all sat.
The brigadier general, who was president of the court, cleared his throat. "The following three verdicts have been reached unanimously," the general said. "As to the first charge, sexual harassment, we have reached a verdict of not guilty."
Holly's stomach shrank into a knot. She locked her knees so that they would not buckle. She knew what could only come next.
"As to the second charge, attempted rape, we have reached a verdict of not guilty," the general said. "And as to the third charge, conduct unbecoming an officer, we have reached a verdict of not guilty."
"Yes!" screamed a woman in the front row.
Holly recognized her as Colonel Bruno's wife. It was the first time she had appeared in court.
"Colonel Bruno," the general said, "you are restored to duty. This court is adjourned."
Holly made her way slowly through the crowd, ignoring the reporters who were demanding her reaction to the verdict. On her way she came abreast of the young blond lieutenant who had been the other complainant in the case. Holly found her hand and squeezed. The woman was in tears.
The cold outside air struck like a slap, reviving her, and she saw her father's car at the curb. She got in beside him.
"I'm sorry," he said. He was dressed in hismaster sergeant's uniform and wore the green beret of the special forces.
"You knew, didn't you?" she asked.
Hamilton Barker nodded. "It was in the cards," he said. "It was Bruno's word against yours. He's a West Pointer, and so were most of the court. They weren't going to destroy his career."
"They've destroyed mine," Holly said. She could see the gold oak leaf on her left shoulder out of the corner of her eye.
"You can request a transfer, and they can't deny it," her father said.
"Come on, Ham. They'd never let me forget it. I'd end up in some unit commanded by a classmate of Bruno's, and I'd be repeatedly passed over for promotion on some pretext or other."
Her father said nothing.
"I could get a job on a police force somewhere," she said.
"Funny you should mention that," her father replied.
They sat in a steak house near the base, the ruins of their dinner before them. The talk had been of army, Vietnam and army, and Holly had done all the listening.
She liked Ham's friend and old comrade-in-arms, Chet Marley; he was smaller and skinnier than Ham, but he had the same wiry toughness as her father, the same crow's-feet around the eyes from squinting into the distance. And he seemed very smart.
"Okay, enough of this old-soldier stuff," Marley said suddenly. "I've got a problem, Holly, and I think you might be the person to help me solve it."
"Tell me, Chet," Holly said.
"I'm chief of a twenty-four-man force in Orchid Beach, Florida, and there's a gaping hole where the number-two man ought to be."
"Don't you believe in promoting from within?" Holly asked.
"I believe in the best man for the job," Marley said. "Or woman," headded.
"You short of good men?"
"I'm short of experienced men. Most of them are in their twenties. I've got one man who's forty and has experience, but I don't trust him."
"Don't trust him, how?" Holly asked.
"He's a politician, and I don't like politicians. He thinks he should have my job, which is okay, I guess, except he'd screw it up if he had it."
"Why don't you fire him?"
"He's never given me any real cause, and he's connected with some of the city council."
"That's bad, I guess," Holly replied. "I'm no politician, but I can see how that could be difficult to deal with."
"I'm going to retire next year, and I don't want him to have my job," Marley said. "My idea is to bring in an experienced . . . person, somebody who can take charge and be ready when I go."
Holly nodded, but said nothing.
"I know about your record from your old man," Marley said, "and I've asked around some, too, because I wouldn't take his word for anything." He grinned and cast a sideways glance at Ham Barker. "You're already running more MPs than I've got cops. I've heard about your unit citations and the level of training and performance you demand from your people, and I like what I hear."
"Thank you," she said.
"Of course, we're not the army, and things have to be handled a little different in civilian life, but I think you could get used to that."
"I'm sure I could," Holly said.
"It's a nice town, Orchid Beach. It sits on a barrier island halfway down the east coast of Florida, has a population of around twenty thousand, a lot of them retirees."
"Lots of tourists?"
"No, not really tourists. We get the same folks back, year after year, most ofthem to family beach houses--folks from Atlanta and Charlotte and Birmingham, and a lot of northeasterners. We've got no high-rise hotels, no casinos and only a few motels. There's a small black community and a stable blue-collar group, mostly construction workers, plumbers, electricians and a few retired military folk. We've got a low crime rate and not much of a drug problem, until recently."
A Woman's Best Friend--and Most Lethal Weapon
New York Times bestselling author Stuart Woods delivers a riveting thriller that introduces an exciting addition to the pantheon of fictional sleuths.
Forced into early retirement at thirty-seven, smart, attractive, and fiercely independent Major Holly Barker trades in her bars as a military cop for the badge of deputy chief of police in Orchid Beach, Florida. But below the sunny surface of this sleepy, well-to-do island town lies an evil that escalates into the cold-blooded murder of one of Holly's new colleagues. An outsider, Holly has little to go on for answers and no one to help her--except Daisy, a Doberman of exceptional intelligence and loyalty that becomes her companion and protector. The closer she gets to the truth, the more Holly knows that it'll take one smart dog with guts to sniff out this killer--before he can catch her first.
About the Author
Stuart Woods was born in Manchester, Georgia, a small town in the American South. He was educated in the local schools and at the University of Georgia, where he graduated with a BA degree in 1959. He served in the United States Air Force, in which he says he "...flew a truck," as an enlisted man during the Berlin Wall crisis of 1961-62.
He devoted his early adult years to a career in advertising , as an award-winning writer for agencies in New York and London. It was while living in London in 1973 that he decided to pursue an ambition held since childhood, to write fiction. he moved to a flat in the stable yard of a castle in south County Galway, Ireland, and while working two days a week for a Dublin ad agency to support himself, began work on a novel. Shortly after beginning, he discovered sailing and , as he puts it, "Everything went to hell." The novel was put temporarily aside while he spent all his time, "...racing an eleven foot plywood dinghy against small children, losing regularly."
In the autumn of 1974, a friend invited him to help ferry a small yacht up the west coast of Ireland, and the bug bit even harder. Shortly thereafter, his grandfather died, leaving him "...just enough money to get into debt for a boat," and he immediately decided to go to the 1976 Observer Single-handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR). He moved to a gamekeeper's cottage on a river above Cork Harbour and had a boat built at a nearby boatyard. He studied navigation and sailed on other people's boats every chance he got, then, after completing a 1300-mile qualifying voyage from the Azores to Ireland, he persuaded the Race Committee to accept him as an Irish entry.
He completed the race in good form, taking forty-five days, and in 1977 his memoir of the Irish period, Blue Water, Green Skipperwas published in London and New York. While sporadically working on the novel, he completed another book, A Romantic's Guide to the Country Inns of Britain and Ireland,published in 1979.
Chiefs, Woods' long-awaited novel, was published in 1981 to wide critical and popular acclaim, garnering excellent reviews and winning the Edgar Allan Poe Award. Chiefswas filmed for television as a six-hour drama starring Charlton Heston. Following his success with that novel, Woods published a string of fiction that established him as one of the most popular writers in the world.
Orchid Beachis Stuart Woods' eighteenth novel. His previous books, Run Before the Wind(1983), Deep Lie(1986), Under the Lake(1987), White Cargo(1988), Grass Roots(1989), Palindrome and New York Dead(1989), Santa Fe Rules(1991), L.A. Times(1992), Dead Eyes(1993), Heat(1994), Imperfect Strangersand Choke(1995), Dirt(1996), Dead in the Water(1997) and Swimming to Catalina(1998) have been translated into Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Serbo-Croatian, Czech, Japanese, and Hebrew and there are millions of copies of his books in print around the world. Several of Stuart Woods' novels have been optioned for feature films and television movies.
Stuart Woods lives on the the Treasure Coast of Florida and Litchfield County, Connectict. He still flies his own plane, and sails.