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Book Reviews

Milt Gross Book Review: "Orchid Beach", by Stuart Woods
By Milt Gross
Sep 23, 2012 - 6:13:08 AM

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Stuart Woods writes a really great mystery every time, this one, Orchid Beach, with a Florida setting about a woman police chief and her Doberman Daisy. Milt Gross photo.
All Stuart Woods books I've read have been good, satisfying, lots of action, some horrible tension, some sex but not enough that those who say they don't like to read about sex have to say they read about sex. Orchid Beach, no exception, is the second I've read about Holly Barker and her father, Hamilton Barker or Ham.

Oh yes, and the great Doberman Daisy.

It all takes place in Florida, which doesn't turn me on. But the story does.

Holly has resigned the military, because when she and others reported being sexually harassed by a superior, the Army court marshall finds the offender not guilty. She accepts the position of deputy police chief at Orchid Beach, and when the police chief is murdered she becomes chief.

Hank, a close friend of the chief's is also shot and killed the same night as the chief's murder, adding to the mystery and suspense.

The police chief had told Holly he suspected someone in the police department was up to no good, possibly alerting bad guys to potential police action against them. That suspicion becomes part of the intrigue, as she deals with her follow police offers during the investigation of the apparently related murders.

From the book jacket, "Surrounded by a staff of officers she neither knows nor trusts, Holly finds help in a most unexpected source -- Daisy, a Doberman of exceptional intelligence and loyalty who quickly becomes her inseparable companion and protector. The closer she gets to unraveling the mystery of Orchid Beach, however, the nearer Holly comes to danger darker and more deadly than any she could ever have anticipated."

She also becomes involved in an unanticipated romance, which seems to at first to not be helping her in the investigation but turns out to be a very real asset. Romance, ah, a key to a great tale.

The story includes a major crime ring in a large private subdivision around which the tension and eventual climax revolve and slam to a dramatic ending.

To again quote the book cover, "...Orchid Beach ranks as one of Stuart Wood's most inventive and brilliantly drawn works -- an entertaining, nonstop tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats as it races from the first page to its exhilarating conclusion."

I couldn't have described it better, hence that excerpt of a paragraph from the book cover.

By 1998, when HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022 published Orchid Beach, Woods had penned 17 novels. Safari informed me the number is now 49. The price then was $25, and I have no idea how inflation has since treated that amount. I suppose you can find it at some bookstores and probably online -- probably not at your local Toyota dealer where I found it on the shelf of an informal customer-trade-books library.

One of the 17 I've read -- "on the edge of my seat" (sofa seat while reading through TV reruns) was Dead in the Water. Recalling how that book had been an on-the-edge-of-my-seat adventure, I was happy to open this one.

How many Woods has written since then, I have no idea -- having not Googled for the correct number.

But thumbs up for Orchid Beach.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012

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