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Orchid Beach (2007)

Orchid Beach (2007)
3.92 of 5 Votes: 1
0061355267 (ISBN13: 9780061355264)
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Orchid Beach (2007)
Orchid Beach (2007)

About book: Holly Barker grew up as a military brat, got hooked on her father’s trade and climbed through the military ranks and OCS to major in charge of a military police division. Her immediate superior, a West Point grad, tried to woo the attractive major and when that didn’t work he attempted to rape her.Holly filed harassment and attempted rape charges but lost out to the old boy’s and West Point collegiality club. Holly retired from the army and was hired by an old army buddy of her father’s as Deputy Chief of Police in the city of Orchid Beach located on the east coast of Florida.Chief Chet Marley went outside the department to hire Holly because he suspected there was at least on mole inside his organization. Something big was going on in Orchid Beach that involved smuggling, money laundering, drugs or possibly weapons – but he couldn’t put his finger on it.Holly drove south, leaving her army nightmare behind, only to inherit another on her first day as Deputy Chief of Police at Orchid Beach. Chief Chet Marley had been murdered the night before her arrival, which complicated her standing with the police department and more than that, being thrust into the job of acting Chief of Police. Bad blood within the city council notwithstanding, Holly Barker weathered the storm and was eventually installed as the permanent Chief of Police.Chief Barker’s investigation into Marley’s murder was inhibited by the mole factor. And if that wasn’t enough the discovery of the dead body of Hank Doherty, less than a mile from the scene of Marley’s murder was. Doherty was a paraplegic Vietnam Vet and another buddy of Ham Barker and Chet Marley.When and where the murders took place were the only known factors in the investigation – why was the unknown? In the middle of a seemingly hopeless situation Holly Barker inherited a dog named Daisy, Hank Doherty’s well-trained Doberman. Holly and Daisy quickly bonded and the chief found an immediate friend and a backup that she could trust.The death of two army buddies got Ham Barker’s attention and he hurried south to find the killer or killers of his pals. Holly loved her father, but wanted no outside interference in her investigation. However, as she already knew, standing up to Ham Barker was like standing up to Mount Rushmore.Nothing came easy in the investigation, however bits and pieces of clues began to point in the direction of a gated and heavily armed community called Palmetto Gardens that was located just inside the Orchid Beach city limits.Stuart Woods fine storytelling ability and his fast paced plot, with enough twists and turns to satisfy most mystery lovers’, leads to a logical conclusion.Tom Barnes author of 'The Goring Collection.'

This is the first book in the Holly Barker series which has potential, but I'm not convinced of it yet. What really put me off was the overwhelming theme of sex-gone-bad. When the book starts, the military police officer Holly has just lost a sexual harassment case against her boss, a General, I believe. It even got to the point where he had apparently tried to rape her. But now she's moving on...until in her new role as Deputy Sheriff (or something like that), she stumbles upon a big mystery...several of them, actually. One of them involves a woman getting killed (which would be sufficient, in my opinion, to demonstrate that the bad guys are in fact really bad "bad guys". But nope, the author has to also mention that the woman was raped and I'll stop there (though the book doesn't). Very unnecessary, but I kept reading. Later, Holly herself, despite knowing that the bad guys have a penchant for rape and murder, actually drives out to a very secluded spot where of course, someone tries to rape her! Argh! Once again, not necessary for letting me know the guy is an evil man. I'd already figured that part out, thank you very much. Other online reviews basically say the same thing.One really good part is that Holly adopts a Doberman from a murder victim (who trained the dog). This female dog's file reads across the top "Excellent Working B----" which is of course, proper terminology. Holly thinks its an apt description for herself as well and a friendship is born. I'm willing to give Stuart Woods' Holly Barker series another go, but if even one woman gets raped, I'm stopping, 'cause this is not the kind of trend I need in my mysteries.
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Up until recently, I have gone out of my way to avoid reading series; for some reason, it always seemed like some huge commitment to me, and kind of a pain to have to start with #1 and then go in order (or else risk missing out on something). So for that reason, I'm just now getting around to some of these popular series that a lot of people I know already read a long time ago. I have a lot of catching up to do!I would give this one a solid 3.5 stars if I could. It was an easy, relaxing read, and Holly is a cool chick who can really kick some ass! I love stories set in Florida, so this was right up my alley. My main complaint is that story and characters lacked any real depth, but I didn't go into it expecting to find much. It's just a fun, light read, and I liked it enough to move on to the next book in the series.
1st Holly Barker novel; Palmetto Gardens Part I. Holly survives the courts martial acquittal of COL Bruno, retires from the Army and accepts Deputy Police Chief job in Orchid Beach. Her boss Chet is murdered the night before she starts work, and she knows there is a mole in the department but nothing else. She quickly watches as an arrest is made for the murder and then flops, and starts boning the defense counsel Jackson. She begins to suspect that her troubles are linked to an exclusive development within the town called Palmetto Gardens. Her dad Ham retires from the Army and moves to Orchid Beach and begins nosing around her problematic case. The PG security chief Barney Noble cannot shake Holly's interest in his operation as he covers a worldwide drug clearing house. FBI sleuth Harry Crisp comes to partner with Holly for the final takedown, which nets billions and awards for Crisp and Holly, ending with Holly's plan for a wedding.Holly is the perfect foil for Stone, and begins a recurring presence in both series. Holly's background in Army MP duties gives her a bit of a Jack Reacher credibility, but she is nothing like Reacher. Far sexier and approachable, especially around Stone!
Stuart Woods has been knocking out suspense fiction for awhile now; I believe Orchid Beach made number 19 in the fiction category for him. If you’re looking for another mystery author to add to your list, don’t miss this one.Woods has a clever way with setting, and the small island community in Florida called Orchid Beach is very tangible. As characters visit different parts of the town, the reader is given a good look at the location and its recognizable features.The plot swerves delightfully, from a pair of almost immediate murders to a red herring or three. Everyone isn’t a suspect, but you’ll wonder until the very end who you can trust.The main character is a 37-year-old retired Army major who has relocated to Orchid Beach to become the deputy police chief – and Holly is perfectly capable of handling her new duties. Her adopted, beer-retrieving sidekick, a Doberman Pinscher named Daisy, is a tough customer too.Woods clearly does his homework and the way he explains things to his reader through his characters’ conversations and observations is excellent. One doesn’t feel insulted or talked down to. I was willing to overlook some of the more far-fetched parts — like the dog’s heroics — in trade for a great plot and brisk pace.But there was one area that I felt let down: The characters are flat. There’s not enough warmth in the people. Holly is savvy and sharp; likeable, maybe, but not terribly lovable. Her relationship with her father seems both distant and close at the same time and left me feeling unconvinced that they could be completely comfortable with each other.However, the book carries everything else off so well, one might be willing to overlook that in favor of a page-turner like Orchid Beach. It’s certainly worth the investment of an afternoon’s read.
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