Holly Barker is the title character in the Holly Barker series of novels by American writer Stuart Woods. Woods first introduced the Barker character in the first novel of the series, Orchid Beach published in 1998. The novels are best classified as thriller mysteries.
Order of Holly Barker Series
Holly Barker is a fiercely independent and attractive Chief of Police in Orchid Beach, Florida. The series begins immediately with the narrative of Barker’s rise through the ranks from army Major to civilian life and finally to chief of Police. Dismissed from the army after a scandalous sexual harassment case, she is learning how dangerous police work can be.
The first novel in the series, Orchid Beach, begins the story of Holly Barker as she is adapting to her new life as Chief of Police. When an associate and a colleague are gunned down brutally during wedding festivities, Holly vows to find the killers. However, as a greenhorn, surrounded by juniors she hardly knows or trusts, she knows it is not going to be easy to crack the case. To add to the complexity of the case, she has almost no clues that she can latch onto.
Desperate for any help, she finds it from the most unexpected of sources – her dog, a loyal and intelligent Doberman named Daisy, and her father. Though, with every step, she takes towards unraveling the Orchid Beach mystery, the more dangerous her life becomes. The Doberman becomes her protector and inseparable companion in these hard times.
HOLLY BARKER BOOKS INTO TV/MOVIES
While none of the Holly Barker series of novels have been made into movies, if you want a taste of what they would be like, be sure to check out Chiefs and Grassroots that were made into TV series. CBS adapted the 1981 published Chiefs novel into a miniseries that aired in 1983. Stuart Woods wrote the screenplay, with the starring role going to Charlton Heston. With nominations for the Eddie Awards and three for the Emmys, the movie did not do too badly. CBS also adapted Grassroots into a miniseries by the same name that aired in 1992. Corbin Bernesen got the starring role in the film co-written by Derek Marlowe and Stuart Woods.
BEST HOLLY BARKER BOOKS
The first title in the series, Orchid Beach received a lot of critical acclaim and is generally deemed one of the most brilliant in the series. Unlike other police procedural and detective novels, Woods takes a greenhorn and tasks her with finding several killers with virtually no clues. Holly Barker’s investigations, which lead her into a whirlpool of crazed criminality, make for compelling reading that any mystery thriller fan will love.
Blood Orchid the third book of the Holly Barker series is another that is highly regarded by thriller fans worldwide. Trying to piece her life back together after losing her fiancée the only refuge that she now has is her job, her father, and the wily Doberman. Her daily routine is suddenly interrupted with the news that the home of one of her friends had been sprayed with bullets, and that the Coast Guard had found a floater on her precinct. Connecting the latest happenings to the crime and violence wave in nearby Miami, she teams up with an FBI officer to unravel the mystery of how this was connected to the small town of Orchid. What they find is a criminal enterprise more dangerous and lucrative than they could have ever imagined.
Another brilliant novel in the Holly Barker series is the second book, Orchid Blue. With an even more complex plot, Barker is tracking an unusually organized and cunning band of killers that brutally murdered an innocent bystander. With her motley crew of associates busy with other cases, will she be able to take down the mysterious, yet dangerous and well-organized gang, with only the Doberman and her father by her side?
OTHER BOOK SERIES YOU MAY LIKE
Fans of the Holly Barker series also liked the “Virgil Flower” series by John Sandford. The novels are detective crime mysteries that feature Virgil Flowers an unconventional Dr. House type police officer who insists on working only the hard cases.
Many fans of the Holly Barker series also enjoy the “Shane Scully” series of novels by Stephen J. Cannell. The crime thrillers feature Shane Scully an LAPD detective that is determined to unravel the most difficult cases even they put her life at risk.