Stuart Woods: Family Jewels

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Stuart Woods Family Jewels
  • Название:
    Family Jewels
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • Жанр:
    Триллер / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2016
  • Город:
    New York
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-0-399-17469-8
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    5 / 5
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Family Jewels: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Stone Barrington’s newest client seems to be a magnet for trouble. A poised lady of considerable wealth, she’s looking for help discouraging the attentions of a tenacious gentleman. But no sooner does Stone fend off the party in question than his client becomes involved in two lethal crimes. With suspects aplenty, Stone must probe deep into his client’s life to find the truth, and he discovers that the heart of the mystery may be a famous missing piece of history, a stunningly beautiful vestige of a bygone era. It’s a piece with a long and storied past and untold value... the kind of relic someone might kill to obtain. Among the upper crust nearly everyone has buried a skeleton or two, and it will take all of Stone’s investigative powers to determine whose secrets are harmless, and whose are deadly.

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Fred stood to one side of the seating area and was approached by the headwaiter.

“May I help you?” the man asked, in a tone that sounded as if he had no wish to help.

“Security,” Fred said, nodding toward the Fiske table.

“Really?”

“Really. Trust me.”

“Oh, all right.” He stalked away.

A moment later the waiter returned to the terrace, leading a large, handsome gentleman. Fred looked him over: six-five, maybe six-six, two-twenty, chiseled features, square jaw. He was seated on the opposite side of the outdoor area from where Ms. Fiske sat. He looked at her, she looked at the man and nodded.

Fred walked over to the man’s table. “Good afternoon,” he said.

The man looked at him disdainfully. “Is it?”

“Take my word for it,” Fred replied. “I am a security person for Ms. Fiske.”

The man looked him up and down. “Really?”

“Really. She would be very grateful if you would leave the restaurant and not follow her anywhere again.”

The man stood up and approached Fred, who remained rooted to the spot. He reached out, put his hands under Fred’s arms and lifted him like a child, until they were nose to nose. “I would be very grateful if you would go away and stay away,” he said.

Fred reached out with both hands and briefly explored the man’s rib cage. Gun under the left armpit. “Kindly put me down and take your hands away,” he said.

“Or what?”

“Or I’ll hurt you.”

Broad smile. “I’d like to see you try.”

Fred reached out with both hands, took the man by his ears and head-butted him squarely in the nose, hard. The man dropped him, and Fred landed on his toes. The man clapped a hand over his nose, and blood seeped between his fingers. Fred picked up a napkin from the table and handed it to him. “Use this,” he said, “and if I were you I’d run over to the nearest emergency room and have that nose looked at. It will need setting.”

While Fred waited for a reply, the headwaiter appeared again, this time in the company of two uniformed police officers.

“Can you do something about this, please?” he said, indicating Fred.

“Okay, what’s happening here?” one of the cops said.

“This man assaulted me,” Fred replied evenly. “It was necessary for me to defend myself.”

The cop removed the man’s hand from his face and took a look at his nose, then he turned to Fred. “You did that? How’d you reach that high?”

“He lifted me into range,” Fred replied. “And I have reason to believe that he is armed — shoulder holster, left side.”

“Oh, yeah?” The cop patted the area, then reached inside the man’s jacket and pulled out a small 9mm pistol. “Tell you what,” he said. “We’ll give you a lift to the ER, and on the way we can have a little chat about this.” He held up the gun.

The man nodded, and the two policemen escorted him from the restaurant. Fred walked over to Ms. Fiske’s table. “I don’t believe he’ll bother you for the remainder of the day, miss.”

“I’m so glad,” Ms. Fiske replied. “In that case, I don’t believe I’ll need you for the rest of the day, Fred. You may convey the news to Mr. Barrington.”

“I will do so, miss,” Fred replied. “Good day.” He walked out of the restaurant and went for the car.

Half an hour later, Fred had conveyed the news to Mr. Barrington.

“Well done,” Stone said.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Do you think he got the message?”

“If he didn’t, next time I’ll break his patella — that will keep him out of action for a while.”

“As long as it’s in self-defense,” Stone said, and Fred took his leave.


Stone joined Dino and his wife, Viv, for dinner at Patroon that evening, and he told them about Fred’s actions that afternoon.

“Sounds like a law-abiding citizen to me,” Dino said.

“Fred or the other guy?”

“Fred, of course. It would have weighed with the arresting officer that he was so much smaller than the one who was doing the bleeding. What was this all about?”

“Recently divorced woman with an ex-husband who can’t face reality and is stalking her.”

Dino, to Stone’s astonishment, began to sing: “It seems to me I’ve heard that song before. It’s from an old familiar score...”

“Dino,” Viv said. “I never knew you could sing.”

“He can’t,” Stone replied.

“Still, the song resonates, doesn’t it?” Dino asked. “Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn.”

“I’ll bet you didn’t know he was a musicologist, either,” Stone said to Viv.

“I learn something new about him every... month or so,” she replied.

“Half the women Stone has ever been involved with had angry men in the way.”

“I’m not involved with her,” Stone said, “she’s a client.”

“That never got in the way before, and I don’t think the American Bar Association would like it.”

“So, I offer some of my clients a broad range of services.”

Viv burst out laughing. “Don’t tell me, just let my imagination run wild.”

4

Stone was at his desk the following morning when he heard voices — a man and a woman — followed by scuffling sounds, followed by a very large man with a length of tape across his nose and two black eyes, looking much like a sorrowful raccoon. Right behind him was Joan, wielding the .45 that she kept in her desk drawer.

“Freeze!” she yelled.

“Joan!” Stone said loudly. “Don’t shoot him!”

“Oh, all right,” Joan replied, sounding disappointed. She lowered the weapon.

“Who are you and what do you want?” Stone asked. “And talk fast, or I’ll let her shoot you.”

“My name is Harvey Biggers,” the man said.

“Oh, right. Sorry, I was a little slow on the uptake. You’d better sit down before you pass out. I’ll handle this, Joan. Put the gun away.”

Biggers sat down. “I have to talk to you.”

“I’m afraid that conversation can’t take place,” Stone said, “since I represent your former wife.”

“Look, you don’t know what you’re getting mixed up in. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you for legal advice. Just give me five minutes to ease my conscience.”

“Your conscience? If you want to confess, speak to somebody at the Nineteenth Precinct.”

“This is not a confession, it’s a warning.”

“A warning about what?”

“About what you’re getting mixed up in.”

“Mr. Biggers, every time I take on a client I get mixed up in something, it’s what I do. Now what’s your point?”

“You’ve been misled.”

“Not for the first time.”

“Maybe not, but this time could be fatal.”

“Fatal for whom?”

“For you. Sorry, that was a terrible joke. Fatal for me, actually.”

Stone sighed deeply. “You’re not making any sense at all, Mr. Biggers.”

“I’m being set up.”

“Set up for what?”

“For getting killed.”

“Let me give you a little help with the noir nomenclature, Mr. Biggers. When you’re being set up it means someone is trying to have you wrongly accused of killing someone else.”

“It does?”

“Yes.”

“Can’t it mean something else, too?”

“What did you have in mind?”

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