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Signet (October 1, 2002)
Orchid Blues is one of those titles that can work in a couple of different ways but is ideal for a story which is mostly a police procedural. Stuart Woods created a great character in the person of Holly Barker, former MP Sergeant and current police chief of Orchid Beach, Florida. Holly is personable and has an interesting relationship with her father Ham who has to be the luckiest man alive to get away with the stuff he gets away with.
Woods is a stickler for procedure and he clearly understand the complexities of inter agency politics better than the reader is likely to understand them but that in and of itself does not make for a compelling narrative. The story starts well enough with a precision bank robbery gone awry and the sudden death of Chief Barker's fiancée. What doesn't quite work is the speed with which Holly moves forward with the investigation and the series of coincidences that help move the plot along.
There are so many glaring problems with the premise of how the bad guys are caught that any reader really will start to wonder just how stupid Woods expects us to be. While we are willing to believe that Ham and Holly are good at their jobs it is difficult to muster the requisite belief in the complete imbecility of others and the curious synchronicity of events that unfold in the telling of this story. Woods has a knack for getting a story off to a great start and then blowing it all to hell with either the incredulous or the pedestrian.
Orchid Blues starts off well and then deteriorates into a run of the potboiler that stretches the good graces of even the most generous reader. Summer beach reading only.