In The Short Forever, the unflappable Stone Barrington flies to London to see a client he’s never met-and comes face to face with two, possibly three, murders and the affectionate attentions of two former lovers. And when the intelligence services of three countries become involved, he can only hang on for a wild ride-and hope for a not-too-bumpy landing.
The Short Forever is the 8th installment in the Stone Barrington series of books. However, this is probably the 10th or 11th Stuart Woods novel that I have read.
I ran into a few problems with this book. I found that I had a difficult time maintaining the momentum needed to finish. As with most Stone Barrington novels, The Short Forever takes off like a rocket out of the gate with a good amount of action from page one.
After the beginning, I found that as the reader, I was constantly in the dark. This book is 345 pages long and 300 pages in, the plot was still thickening without ever resolving any of the issues that had previously arisen. It is very overwhelming and and frustrating to read through. The plot was getting so deep that I felt that it actually crossed the “too much” line. Unfortunately, I would get fifteen to twenty minutes into reading and would get so burned out with the lack of resolution that I would put the book down. Fortunately, his best friend Dino shows up to save the day, yet again, that helps move the plot along.
The Short Forever had a very “cloak and dagger” feel at times. You get a peek at the ways of secret agencies and how their agents are trained. You are exposed to trailing techniques, how they get information and all of the precautions they take to maintain their cover with their mark. Throughout the book, the theme bounces back and forth between being a traditional mystery/thriller and a spy novel.
One of the other intriguing aspects of this book is the cultural aspect – old school London vs new school London. You end up learning a lot about the day-to-day life in Great Britain as well as the different types of foods and drinks. One line from the book is “…you’ll eat like like a king as long as you have breakfast three times a day….” which refers to a special way that they British prepare eggs and other breakfast foods. I got the feel throughout the entire novel that Stuart Woods either travels to England a lot or really did his homework regarding the culture prior to writing this novel.
Overall, I would say that this is a good book with drawkbacks. The book started out fast and ended fast but the middle 200 pages were difficult to muddle through at times. I am still a huge Stuart Soods fan and my experience with this book will not stop me from reading Stone Barrington novels in the future. I give The Short Forever 2.5 stars.