Stuart Woods: Fast and Loose

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Stuart Woods Fast and Loose
  • Название:
    Fast and Loose
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  • Издательство:
    G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Жанр:
    Триллер / на английском языке
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  • Город:
    New York
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Fast and Loose: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Stone Barrington is enjoying a boating excursion off the Maine coast when a chance encounter leaves him somewhat the worse for wear. Always able to find the silver lining in even the unhappiest circumstances, Stone is pleased to discover that the authors of his misfortune are, in fact, members of a prestigious family who present a unique business opportunity, and who require a man of Stone’s skills to overcome a sticky situation of their own. The acquaintance is fortuitous indeed, for as it turns out, Stone and his new friends have an enemy in common. He’s the sort of man who prefers force to finesse, and who regards any professional defeat as a personal and intolerable insult. And when Stone’s sly cunning collides with his adversary’s hair-trigger-temper, the results are sure to be explosive...

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Stuart Woods

Fast and Loose


Stone Barrington lay back in the cockpit of the Concordia 40, a small cruising yawl built by Abeking & Rasmussen, a German yard, in 1938, and let the light breeze take him back toward Dark Harbor. The sails were nicely balanced as he sailed up Maine’s Penobscot Bay, and he lashed the helm while he looked around, then peed overboard. Thus relieved, he settled back into the cockpit and tucked a cushion behind him, relaxed and happy.

He dozed off.

The yacht jerked a bit, waking him, and he found himself in the thickest fog he had ever experienced. He could barely make out the stem of the boat, and he was uncertain about his course. He had been headed for the Tarratine Yacht Club moorings, and his own dock beyond, but he didn’t know how long he had been asleep or whether the wind had changed and put him off course. He checked the depth sounder: 55 feet of water — too deep to anchor with the rode he had aboard. He stood up and dropped the mainsail to slow the boat to a crawl, continuing with the jib and the mizzen. He went back to his cockpit seat and resumed his position, but left the helm lashed. They were making only three knots in the light breeze, and he reckoned he couldn’t get into too much trouble at that speed. The depth was now 70 feet.

He heard a voice from somewhere in the fog saying, “Start the engines and drop the sails,” but he couldn’t figure out the direction from which it had come. Then there was the sound of water moving past a hull, but he was still unable to determine the direction. He rummaged in a cockpit locker for the air horn and pressed the button. The noise shocked him, and it was followed by shouting from the fog.

Then he saw a shape to port and grabbed for the helm. It took a moment to throw off the lashings, and in that time there was a terrible noise, and his world turned upside down. The boom swung across the cockpit and caught him on the side of his head, and darkness fell.

He felt the pain before he felt his surroundings, and he feared that if he opened his eyes it might make things worse. He allowed some light past his eyelids, then quickly shut them again, groaning loudly at the pain. He heard a rustle beside him, and felt a cool hand on his forehead.

“He’s awake,” a low female voice said. “Get Father.”

Stone tried to speak, but his mouth was too dry. A glass brushed his lips, and he took in a sip of water.

“Is that better? Can you speak?”

“I’m sorry to open with a cliché,” he said, “but where am I?”

She chuckled. “You’re in bed. You had an accident.”

He got his eyes all the way open this time, and there was an arm attached to the cool hand, and a woman attached to the other end of the arm — very blond, almost white hair. “What kind of an accident?”

“What’s the last thing you remember?” she asked.

He thought about that. “Fog,” he said. “Lots of fog. There was a noise.”

“Your foghorn?”


“That was the first we knew of your presence.”

“I didn’t hear yours.”

“I’m sorry about that. The crew was busy getting the sails down.”

He struggled to sit up, but she pushed him back. “Not yet,” she said. She lifted his head and tucked another pillow under it, enabling him to look around — first, at the woman. Very nice. He was in a cozy cabin of beautifully varnished mahogany.

“My father will be here in a moment to take a look at you,” she said. “Your name is Stone Barrington, is it not?”

“It is.”

“My name is Marisa Carlsson, with a cee and two esses.”

“How did you know my name?”

“You had a wallet with business cards inside. It’s drying out, while your clothes are being laundered.”

He realized he was naked under the covers. “Who undressed me?” he asked.

She laughed. “The pleasure was mine.”

“I’m glad you see it that way.”

“Well,” a man’s voice said, “is our patient awake?” He stepped into the cabin, an older male version of his daughter.

“More or less,” Stone said.

“This is my father, Dr. Paul Carlsson,” she said.

“You’ve had a thump on your head,” the doctor said.

“I noticed that.”

Carlsson laughed. “He’s well enough to have a sense of humor.”

“Where is my boat?” Stone asked.

“I’m afraid it’s at the bottom of Penobscot Bay. There was nothing we could do — it sank very quickly after the collision.”

“I’m sorry to hear it. It was an old boat that had made people happy for a long time.”

“What boat was it?”

“A Concordia 40 yawl, built in 1938, at Abeking and Rasmussen.”

“Funny, that’s where this yacht was built,” the doctor said.

“What is she?”

“A ninety-foot ketch, designed by Ron Holland, built the year before last.”

“Well, I suppose the better yacht won the battle.”

“Don’t worry about your boat, we’ll deal with that later. You’ve had a concussion, but your vital signs are strong and you’re making good conversation, so I don’t think we’ll have to hospitalize you. We’ll get you some soup, to keep your strength up, but then you must rest. You should be fine in the morning.”

A uniformed steward came in with a steaming mug of something on a tray. Stone sipped it. “Chicken soup,” he said.

“The cure for everything,” the doctor replied.

“Except my headache. Do you have any aspirin?”

“We do. Marisa?”

She left the cabin and returned with three pills. Stone washed them down with the soup. “One of them will help you sleep.”

The next time he woke up sun was streaming through the port over his head, and his clothes, laundered and ironed, were neatly stacked on the bed. He found a razor and a new toothbrush in the head, then had a hot shower and dressed. He stepped out of his cabin into a hallway and followed that to the saloon, then he walked up some stairs to the deck and found Dr. Carlsson and his daughter having breakfast on the afterdeck.

They waved him to a seat, and the steward took his order.

“How are you feeling?” Carlsson asked.

“Almost like new — perhaps a little fuzzy around the edges.”

“That’s the last of your sleeping pill.”

Stone looked around; they were anchored in the harbor not far from the Tarratine. “I live right over there,” he said, pointing at his house. “Just down from the yacht club.”

“What a lovely house,” Marisa said. “Is it old?”

“Only a few years. I inherited it from a cousin, Dick Stone, who built it.”

“We’ll get you ashore after breakfast,” Carlsson said, “and then we’ll talk about your yacht, see what we can do.”

“Are there just the two of you aboard?” Stone asked.

“Yes, my wife died some years ago,” Carlsson said.

“Why don’t you come for dinner this evening?” Stone asked.

“That’s very kind of you,” Carlsson said. “We’d like that very much.”

“Are you Dr. Carlsson of the Carlsson Clinic?” Stone asked.

“I am one of the Dr. Carlssons,” he replied, “the elder one. Marisa and my two sons are all Dr. Carlssons, as well.”

The Carlsson Clinic was a famous hospital, with locations in several cities, on a par with the Mayo Clinic. “Well,” Stone said, “I have not lacked for medical attention. If you say I’m all right, then I must be.”

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