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Chiefs: A Novel (25th Anniversary Edition) Hardcover – March 6, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 25th Anniversary Edition edition (March 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393014614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393014617
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (280 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #452,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stuart Woods is the author of thirty-three novels. He lives in Key West, on Mt. Desert Island in Maine, and in New York City. Readers may learn more about him and his work, read an interview, and correspond with him on his Web site at

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


THE BOY ran for his life.

He poured forth an effort born of fear and a wild sense of freedom regained. At first he ran entirely unconscious of his injuries, then, tearing recklessly through the dark woods, he struck a tree and went down. He lay stunned for a time he could not account for, and when he was finally able to struggle to his feet, the full force of the pain and the winter air swept over him and made him stagger.

He heard the dog and the man crashing through the brush, and he ran again, wildly, blindly, the undergrowth tearing at his naked body. Abruptly, he broke through onto a road, hesitated, decided against it, and threw himself across the open area into the brush on the other side. He was momentarily in thick, thorny blackberry bushes, then found himself on a narrow path.

He was failing now, sucking in air with a loud, rasping noise, his muscles aching, legs wobbling. He heard the man fighting through the blackberry bushes, cursing, and he flung himself forward with his remaining strength. He knew he would rather run until he died than go back to that house. He willed his heart to burst, God to take him, hut his exhausted body still carried him unsteadily forward.

The path turned sharply to the right, but he lunged ahead into thick brush again, hoping for safety. Then he saw stars ahead through the bushes and thought he might break through into a field, while his tormentor followed the path. He gathered his last strength and plunged forward and down, hoping to lie on the ground undetected.

There was no ground; the earth fell away beneath him. He believed himself to be falling into a ditch, but his ditch had no bottom. He fell, twisting in the air, trying desperately to get his feet under him, while the hard earth waited far below him.

Copyright 1981 by Stuart Woods --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Stuart Woods is the author of forty-four novels, including the New York Times-bestselling Stone Barrington series and Holly Barker series. The last twenty-eight of them have been New York Times best-sellers. He is an avid private pilot, flying his own jet on two book tours a year. His latest novel is Santa Fe Edge,to be published on September 21st. You may see his tour schedule and learn more about the author on his website,

Customer Reviews

Great plot twists, character development is very believable.
David Flora
Even though you knew the guilty party, the story kept you wondering when and how he was going to be found.
pam spoon
It was very entertaining and the pace was such to keep one wanting to turn one more page.
Keith N. Montgomery

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Stan Vernooy on September 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"Chiefs" is the story of three police chiefs in a small Georgia town: one was the town's very first Chief of Police in the 1920's, the second in the 1940's, and the third in the 1960's. The common thread among the three is a series of disappearances of teenage boys who were traveling through the vicinity of the town when they disappeared.
The book isn't really a mystery, since the reader knows the solution to the crime fairly early in the book. What sets the book apart is the well-drawn characters and the unerring and evocative portrayal of the evolution of a small Georgia town from the 1920's up to the middle of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's.
Woods has perfect pitch when it comes to dialogue. Every conversation, every confrontation, every characterization rings vividly true. Politics, on a local, state, and national level, is a sub-theme of the book, and the author has obviously done his homework on those topics as well. But the book's most noticeable strength is in its ability to transport the reader almost physically into a sultry Georgia town. Even if you read this during a winter in North Dakota, you'll feel the heat, the tension, the passion, and the fears of a sleepy Georgia town during the mid-20th century for as long as you're reading "Chiefs".
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I got Chiefs after reading all the Amazon 5-star reader reviews. Usually, I'd walk on by a book about small town Georgia cops, never imagining it could be this enthralling. The author is masterful at drawing the reader into this little world; I found myself talking out loud to the characters. He doesn't rely on the graphic gore and language of the typical modern shock thriller, hence making the terror more real. What makes the southern authors so good!? This belongs with "Gone With the Wind" and "The Prince of Tides." As a serial killer story, it belongs with the best of Lawrence Sanders.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 10, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The characters in Chiefs are without a doubt some of the most interesting and well-developed characters that have ever surfaced in any novel to date. Woods does a great job creating such a diverse group of people all the while keeping them realistic and life-like. He paints a very accurate picture of what the south was like in the early 1900's and the 1950's. Since he created such life-like and believable people, I found myself either hating or loving the characters. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading. The three Chiefs that are the focal point are all very different, and they all have amazing qualities that make them come alive. Aside from holding the same position at one time or another, they also were committed to solving one of the worst series of crimes the south had ever seen.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jana L. Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 26, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Essentially, this novel is about three generations of police chiefs in Delano, Georgia, who attempt to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of several young men, and capture the elusive serial killer who victimizes them.
However, Edgar Award-winning novelist Stuart Woods has written not only a riveting mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat, compulsively turning pages, he has described the history and culture of a small Georgia town from 1919 through the 1960s, and created such a realistic a populace that, at times, it is difficult to believe this is a work of fiction. Woods' characters are well defined and complex. There are many good moral people who live in Delano, but there are also the corrupt and perverse, those who have many secrets to hide. The story of the town's growth, as well as that of its inhabitants, over the years is absolutely fascinating, as are the details and intrigues of Georgia's state politics. And the history of the tense race relations during the entire period recalls a time of gross injustice that most of us would like to forget.
This is one of the best mysteries I have read in a long, long time, and, to my mind, Stuart Woods' best novel.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Patrick M. on May 28, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of Woods' earlier works, CHIEFS, reads like the work of a veteran author. Woods is one of the masters at pacing and it is obviously a skill he possessed early in his career. If you are a fan of his more recent books like THE RUN or DEAD IN THE WATER, you will surely not be disappointed by this one.
A serial killer exists virtually unsuspected over the span of three generations of police chiefs in the small farming community of Delano, Georgia. CHIEFS is divided into three separate books, one for each police chief, but the divisions are more complex than merely who is running the department. Delano, the town itself, experiences its own changes in each phase of the story. We see the town flourish in times of economic prosperity, and then struggle as its farming inhabitants grapple with the blight of the boll weevil which destroys their cotton fields. There is the ever-present race clashes, the black and the white fighting for their dignity and place in the rural desegregated South. And Delano's proudest son aspires to establish himself as a viable candidate for the Governor's seat in Georgia.
All this provides an intricately textured backdrop in front of which the killer is defying both time and the law. Each new chief of police stumbles across clues left behind by his predecessor, but will the third one figure it out? The killings and the killer's ability to go undetected so long are certainly the focus of the narrative, but the reader becomes just as fascinated by the political, industrial, and cultural development of Delano as well.
Once you get into it, you can't help but get hooked. You can read CHIEFS in a weekend's time, because you won't want to put it down.
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