Two Dollar Bill
Stuart Woods
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Two Dollar Bill

Stuart Woods
304 pages
April 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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Stone Barrington is an upscale New York litigator who, against his better judgment, takes on a new case on referral. Barrington is nonplussed by Billy Bob Barnstormer's brash manner but willing to accept the $50,000 retainer offered by the overweening Texan. Soon enough, alarm bells sound when the two men get into the Texan's limo and a shot rings out, although no one is hurt. There’s something to be said for instinct, a fact Stone ponders as Billy Bob turns into the client from hell, with Barrington the main suspect in a murder.

Stone and his cronies meet often at Elaine’s restaurant in New York, including best buddy Dino Bacchetti, the NYPD detective in charge of the 19th (Silk-Stocking) Precinct, which covers the Upper East Side. As the evidence further incriminates Barrington and exonerates Billy Bob, Dino is unable to help his friend out of a sticky situation, as the circumstantial evidence is undeniable.

To add to the already spicy mix, the new U.S. Attorney of New York is a looker who quickly hooks up with Barrington, filling their nights with extra-curricular activity. Still, Billy Bob’s actions belie his innocence, and Stone is smart enough to start an investigation of this mysterious client who has the habit of leaving two-dollar bill tips, a denomination that has been out of circulation for years.

After an FBI check on one of the bills, Stone learns it was stolen in an unsolved robbery in the '50s where two people were left murdered. Questioned by the agent, Stone is in a Fifth Amendment fix, unable to discuss the source of the bill - the infamous Billy Bob. Soon Stone discovers that Billy Bob is a con artist with more than one identity, a man not to be underestimated.

The FBI, NYPD and CIA, are running a number of concurrent investigations and aliases all belonging to Billy Bob, Stone’s client, as the agencies collide in a battle of one-upmanship ultimately won with the CIA’s trump card, national security. Barrington is in the thick of things, hoping for a shot at Billy Bob himself, considering the trouble this client has given in their short-lived attorney-client relationship.

Things suddenly get complicated, not to mention dangerous, as the action accelerates. Billy Bob is involved in a nefarious plot threatening innocent victims in New York City, as well as imminent harm to Stone, his ex-wife and her young son.

What begins as the pursuit of a con man turns deadly as Billy Bob proves himself a formidable adversary, a man on a mission with a need to put a serious hurt on Barrington. The chase is on, the NYPD and the CIA always one step behind, badly underestimating Billy Bob’s capabilities. Woods brings it home with enough wild action to keep the pages turning, an awful reminder that nothing is what it seems.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2005

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