Everything You Need to Know about the Stone Barrington Books

Scandalous Behavior by Stuart Woods
Scandalous Behavior by Stuart Woods.

The thirty-sixth Stone Barrington novel by Stuart Woods, Scandalous Behavior, has debuted at #1 on the bestseller lists, as usual. Thirty-six novels featuring one character is a lot, although it’s not a record—there are examples of books series that span hundreds of books, although most of those feature a mixture of authors.

Still, when a series featuring a single character gets to be that long, the author is obviously doing something right, and that kind of success naturally makes a book-hungry person wonder if it could be a rich vein for them to mine when their usual supply of novels runs dry—but on the other hand, thirty-six novels (with the thirty-seventh due out later this year) can be a bit intimidating.

So here’s what you need to know about the Stone Barrington novels.

Character Sketch

So, is Stone Barrington a guy you want to spend a lot of time with? Here’s what you need to know: His parents were both born to wealthy families, but were both disinherited because they refused to conform to familial expectations, a strain of rebelliousness that Stone himself inherited. He grew up in New York and attended public schools and graduated with a law degree, but after a ride-along in a police car decided to join the NYPD. In New York Dead he’s at the tail-end of his career as a Lt. Detective, rehabbing an injury and at odds with his superiors; in the middle of that story he’s forced out of the force and takes the Bar Exam to become a lawyer, and is hired by a tony law firm to be “of counsel.” Basically, the firm uses Stone to handle cases they don’t want sullying their reputation, and the work slowly makes Barrington a pretty wealthy guy—which is good, because he already had some very expensive tastes.

You can’t help but see Woods in Barrington; much of Barrington’s jet-setting lifestyle seems like a slightly exaggerated version of Woods’ own life, from the pilot’s license to the knowledge of wines and food (Woods once wrote a very successful guide to restaurants and hotels in England and Ireland).

Barrington travels the world, can handle himself in almost any situation, has a very active love life, and is a lot of fun to spend time with. His dislike of authority and his sense of humor are ideal for a character who is always sticking his intelligent nose where it’s not wanted.

By the way, if you think Stone Barrington is a pretty silly name, you’re not alone: Woods’ editors reportedly tried very hard to convince him to change it.

In Order

The Stone Barrington books include, in publication order:

  1. New York Dead (1991)

  2. Dirt (1996)

  3. Dead in the Water (1997)

  4. Swimming to Catalina (1998)

  5. Worst Fears Realized (1999)

  6. L.A. Dead (2000)

  7. Cold Paradise (2001)

  8. The Short Forever (2002)

  9. Dirty Work (2003)

  10. Reckless Abandon (2004)

  11. Two Dollar Bill (2005)

  12. Dark Harbor (2006)

  13. Fresh Disasters (2007)

  14. Shoot Him If He Runs (2007)

  15. Hot Mahogany (2008)

  16. Loitering With Intent (2009)

  17. Kisser (2010)

  18. Lucid Intervals (2010)

  19. Strategic Moves (2011)

  20. Bel-Air Dead (2011)

  21. Son of Stone (2011)

  22. D.C. Dead (2011)

  23. Unnatural Acts (2012)

  24. Severe Clear (2012)

  25. Collateral Damage (2013)

  26. Unintended Consequences (2013)

  27. Doing Hard Time (2013)

  28. Standup Guy (2014)

  29. Carnal Curiosity (2014)

  30. Cut and Thrust (2014)

  31. Paris Match (2014)

  32. Insatiable Appetites (2015)

  33. Hot Pursuit (2015)

  1. Naked Greed (2015)

  2. Foreign Affairs (2015)

  3. Scandalous Behavior (2016)

  4. Family Jewels (T/K 2016)

A few quick take-aways here: Through 2010 Woods had written 18 Stone Barrington Novels in 13 years, which is a brisk but not unusual pace; beginning in 2011 he published 19 more in just six years, with as many as four new Barrington novels hitting the shelves in a single year. According to interviews with Woods, he’s not only writing all of these books himself (unlike certain other ‛prolific’ best-sellers), he’s writing so many Barrington novels because his publisher requested that he do so.

Key Barrington

The series does follow a very loose chronology in the sense that past events and characters do occasionally pop into new stories (and some of Woods’ other characters from other series show up from time to time, as well.

That said, this is a series you can read in any order, really, with only the occasional mystery reference to past events. Barrington is one of those characters whose charm is their consistency. The two caveats are: One, read New York Dead first. It’s not only the first-published, it’s the book that sets up Barrington’s back-story, so it’s really the one essential starting point; Two: 2004’s Reckless Abandon is a continuation of a story begun in Woods’ Holly Barker novel Blood Orchid, so you might want to read that one first.

So, whether you dig up New York Dead and start at the beginning, pick up the first Barrington book you find, or seek out Scandalous Behavior right now, you’re going to have a pretty good time getting to know one of the thriller world’s best characters.