Holly Barker Books

Description /Buy link takes you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

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

# Read Title Published Details
1 Orchid Beach ( By: Stuart Woods) 1998 Description / Buy
2 Orchid Blues ( By: Stuart Woods) 2001 Description / Buy
3 Blood Orchid ( By: Stuart Woods) 2002 Description / Buy
4 Reckless Abandon (By: Stuart Woods) 2004 Description / Buy
5 Iron Orchid ( By: Stuart Woods) 2005 Description / Buy
6 Hothouse Orchid ( By: Stuart Woods) 2009 Description / Buy
Print: Print PDF

The series is one of the most successful of Stuart Woods career. From the small town of Manchester, Georgia, Woods grew up modestly going to public schools. After high school he went on to attend the University of Georgia where, for reasons he can’t quite remember, he graduated with a BA in sociology.

He would then move to New York to attempt to get a writing job. Unfortunately, none were to be had and he got a job at an advertising agency in between stints in the Air National Guard. He spent ten months in Germany that were mostly pointless as he says he flew up and down the autobahn. He’d then move to London where he worked in various ad agencies before finally deciding to work on his first novel. He moved to Dublin where he worked two days a week at an ad agency while spending the rest of the time working on his novel. He wouldn’t finish it and ended up getting really into sailing. He sailed through most of the seventies, publishing a few non-ficiton books, but never finishing his novel. It wasn’t until 1981 that he published his first novel, Chiefs.

He would publish quite a few novels before having any best sellers, but by the time he published the first Holly Barker book he was established and the books were major hits. The Holly Barker is one of the best works that Woods has ever done.

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.


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.


Orchid Beach: 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.

Orchid Blue: 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?


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.

What Is The Next Book in The Holly Barker Series ?

There doesn't seem to be an upcoming book in The Holly Barker Series . The newest book is Hothouse Orchid and was released on January, 2nd 2009.


1 thought on “Holly Barker”

  1. I have to give Stuart Woods all the credit in the world here because if I didn’t know any better I would swear this book was written by a woman. He nails Holly Barker’s feminine perspective and she is simply a great character that keeps this book working. If I could somehow rip her from the pages and make her my best friend, I would try.

    She is such a strong role model to women that I hope they pull the trigger and make a movie out of her one day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *