Unnatural Acts is the 23rd in the Stone Barrington series by Stuart Woods.
Summary: Stone and Dino find themselves at loose ends with the closing of their nightly hangout, Elaine’s. (This is hardly a spoiler as this appears within the first few sentences). As they sit drinking on closing night with hundreds of regulars and celebrities, a vaguely familiar redheaded woman punches one of the male patrons.
Transitional chapter break — During the obligatory vague bedroom scene with Stone and his female lover du jour, Stone is interrupted by a phone call from Dino. It turns out that the redhead is none other than the sexy serial killer, Shelley Bach, whom they pursued in the previous installment, D.C. Dead. Now the hunt is on to find and apprehend her.
Meanwhile, the formerly bumbling, naïve Herbie Fisher is a rapidly rising star at Woodman & Weld, following in Stone’s footsteps. In this book he is given more of the spotlight than his usual comic relief role.
Comments: As with most of the books in the Stone Barrington series, in the end the bad guys get what’s coming to them and the good ones get richer. I confess that after the last book in the series, I swore off Stuart Woods books. They’d become so formulaic and over the top as to be downright silly. Total boredom made me pick this one up a few days ago. However, I’m not sorry I did. There is a tiny bit of the charm that drew me to the series in the first place and the book just feels “tighter”. Yes, the characters are outlandishly shallow, but I’m not reading these because they’re great literature. I’m hoping the slight changes in the characters’ lives will help move them along a bit. I’ll eventually read the 24th one and hope for the best.