By Thom Geier
Updated October 06, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

The morning after hotshot Santa Fe lawyer Ed Eagle’s 50th birthday, his wife takes off for Mexico after wiring $1.1 million of his money into a Cayman Islands account. Why? I have no idea, and neither does Stuart Woods, who’s much more interested in his byzantine plot than dialogue or character motivation (a Swedish masseuse named Birgit is a particularly convenient cipher). Woods dispenses his story in just-in-time fashion, with lots of recaps in case you lose your place. At one point, Eagle gets a telling phone call and immediately goes back to work since, as Woods assures us, ”he forgot about the earlier message.” The experience must be like finishing Short Straw.