Teddy Fay is on the run from his past at the beginning of Stuart Woods’ Doing Hard Time. Having changed his identity and going so far as having plastic surgery, he worries that someone is on to him and flees from his home in North Carolina. He eventually ends up in a tiny town in New Mexico that’s not much more than a landing strip for small airplanes and a few businesses. He quickly gets a job working at the service station there and crosses paths with Stone Barrington’s son Peter, who, along with a couple friends, is on a cross country trip to jump into the movie business at Centurion Studios.
It turns out that Peter has been followed by a couple of Russian hit men. The Russian hit men also meet Teddy, now going by the name of Billy Burnett, at the New Mexico service station and quickly become paranoid that he has overheard some of their conversation about eliminating Peter and his two friends. Teddy ends up taking both of them out, throwing their corpses in an SUV, and, with the help of a conveniently available backhoe, burying the Russians in their vehicle in the desert. This Billy Burnett is not to be confused with former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Billy Burnette, although with his many talents it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if Stuart Woods’ Billy Burnett had been in Fleetwood Mac for a while. Billy/Teddy seems to know how to hack into any government computer network, fix any sort of antique gun, is an expert on airplanes and flying, and, most importantly, always seems to be a step or two ahead of whoever is after him. Billy is also a cold blooded killer who is able to charm a woman he just met in Las Vegas into leaving behind her old identity, changing her name to Betsy, and marrying him in short order. His ability to compartmentalize his life is really quite remarkable.
I enjoyed Doing Hard Time. It was a little strange how it is considered “A Stone Barrington Novel” despite Barrington not being in it all that much. But this is a long-running series so I’m guessing Woods is often shuffling characters in and out. Even though there weren’t a lot of big surprises in the book, the frequent action things kept things very lively.