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02.13.10

Do I Have to Read Kisser?

The Daily Beast’s William Boot reviews bestsellers to see which, if any, are readable. This week: Stuart Woods’s Kisser.

Book: Kisser
Author: Stuart Woods
Pages: 288
Readable Pages: 135
Sample Quote: “Until I met you it had been a long time since I had gotten anywhere near as much sex as I wanted.”

Here’s all you need to know about Stone Barrington, the ravishing, swashbuckling New York lawyer at the center of Stuart Woods’s novel Kisser:

Stone has quite a lot of sex. When he’s not bedding Carrie, a Broadway ingénue, he’s bedding Mitzi. Or he’s bedding Rita. In fact, Mitzi and Rita are so smitten with Stone that they like to jump into bed with him at the same time. Stone takes all of this in stride. “When it rains, it pours,” he says.

No matter whom he’s bedding, Stone falls asleep right after sex.

Stone is a very rich thriller hero. But his moneyed, Upper East Side world is charmingly old school. He likes dining in ivy-covered courtyards. Every good apartment has a Steinway piano, and everyone eats at Elaine’s. When Stone heads to a sushi restaurant in SoHo, the narrator remarks, “Stone hardly ever came downtown…”

Stone likes to kick back in his Turtle Bay mansion and ask, “Shall we have another bottle of Champagne?”

Stone has two mysteries to unravel in Kisser. First, is Carrie’s ex-husband trying to foil her big Broadway debut? And, second, how can he bust a drug dealer and a Ponzi schemer without endangering Rita and Mitzi? Another way to summarize the plot is to say that Stone doesn’t want any criminals getting in the way of his sex life.

Stone likes to watch his girlfriends take showers.

I’m worried that Stone has memory problems. On Page 63, he refers to his faithful housekeeper as “Helene.” But on Page 79, he calls her “Helena.” With all this bed-hopping, is Stone getting enough sleep?

Stone likes to eat a hearty breakfast.

Stone is generous lover and—this is truly amazing— he combines this generosity with his passion for a hearty breakfast. The morning after a wild night, Stone whips up some eggs and English muffins and sends them upstairs in a dumbwaiter to Carrie.

In addition to Carrie et al., Stone is wanted, sexually-speaking, by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He seems uninterested.

Stone used to be a cop. As he goes about trying to solve mysteries, his former N.Y.P.D. mates like Dino Bacchetti regard him with a lot of suspicion. Stone thinks they’re just jealous.

As far as Stone is concerned, bad guys always wear raincoats.

Stone’s prefect dinner: eating veal chops and risotto naked.

One woman’s reflection on a night with Stone: “You were sensational last night.”

The same woman’s reflection a few pages later: “You’ve restored my faith in men.”

Despite all this sensational, restorative sex, Stone is a teeny bit defensive about his heterosexuality. “I have no interest in guys,” he says.

When Stone needs to participate in a climactic chase scene, he can request a helicopter on the Upper East Side.

When Stone needs to disable an airplane (as part of the same climactic chase scene), he can shoot out the nosewheel with deadly precision.

Stone has a habit of lapsing into the passive voice—e.g., “Her wax job was Brazilian.”

“I used to enjoy sex,” Stone remarks, but “there are too many demands being made on me.” After reading Kisser’s non-stop throb of sex and action, I felt as limp and depressed as poor Stone.

Read it? No.

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Plus: Check out Book Beast, for more news on hot titles and authors and excerpts from the latest books.

William Boot covered the war in Ishmaelia and wrote the Lush Places column for The Daily Beast. He now reviews bestsellers.