Iron Orchid
Stuart Woods
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Buy *Iron Orchid* online

Iron Orchid

Stuart Woods
304 pages
October 2005
rated 3 of 5 possible stars
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In the fourth entry of the Holly Barker crime-thriller series, Stuart Woods (Two Dollar Bill, Run Before The Wind, Dirt, Deep Lie, Grass Roots, Dark Harbor) moves Holly Barker, one of Wood’s triumvirate of crime series characters (the others being Stone Barrington and Will Lee) out of Orchid Beach, Florida, and into Langley, Virginia, for CIA training. It can also be labeled a current events thriller with the character Teddy Fay (an assassin and ex-CIA agent) setting his sights on Middle East diplomats with ties to terrorists. The prologue literally starts off with a bang as Teddy is flying a Cessna and being chased by Naval jet fighters:

“They would be setting up their shot from landward, so that any rounds that missed would end up in the sea. ‘That’s not what I mean,” Teddy said. ‘Just stay well clear.’ He was coming up on the coastline, now, and he dropped the landing gear to slow him down quickly. The two jets blew pats him again, causing him to laugh. ‘Sorry about that fellas,’ he said into the mike. Half a mile to the beach. Teddy reached into the duffel next to him and took out a package the size of a thick, hardcover book. He unlatched his door and stood by, watching the beach. The moment he crossed it, he lifted the door off its hinges and let it fall from the airplane. He moved the gear lever to the retracted setting, and while it came up he hung the duffel around his neck and set the timer on the package to thirty seconds. He didn’t waste another moment. Clutching the duffel to his chest he rolled sideways and out of the plane. He wanted to be as far away from the plane as he could before it blew. On ten he tucked the duffel under his arm, grabbed the ripcord handle and pulled. The chute opened with a jerk. And a moment later the sky lit up and the shockwave hit him. Two pounds of plastic explosives made quite a bang.”
After a pretty hot opening, the first half of the book settles into a a muddled, slower pace. There are too many contrived near-misses as Barker continually, by happenstance, keeps bumping into Fay without noticing him. Keeping the story at two hundred and ninety pages prevents it from being a bloated novel. The length also keeps the pace fairly quick, so the pages do turn even if it isn’t a thrill-a-minute joyride. Overall, Iron Orchid is a solid thriller.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Bobby Blades, 2005

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