Chiefs : Will Lee

  • by Stuart Woods
  • Narrated by Mark Hammer
  • Series: Will Lee
  • 17 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In 1919, Delano, Georgia, appoints its first chief of police. Honest and hardworking, the new chief is puzzled when young men start to disappear. But his investigation is ended by the fatal blast from a shotgun. Delano's second chief-of-police is no hero, yet he is also disturbed by what he sees in the missing-persons bulletins. In 1969, when Delano's third chief takes over, the unsolved disappearances still haunt the police files.Author Stuart Woods' riveting novel spans three generations while also probing deep into Southern small-town attitudes and behavior. The residents of Delano, with their reluctance to disturb a familiar social order, provide the perfect backdrop for this tale of dark secrets and murder.
Over 40 years ago, Woods found a battered chief-of-police badge in his grandmother's house. It had belonged to his grandfather, who had been shot in the line of duty. The story of the lawman's death inspired Woods to write Chiefs, which won an Edgar Award and was made into a popular TV miniseries.


What the Critics Say

"A riveting story of the Deep South that mixes murder mystery with political intrigue." (Publishers Weekly)
"A fascinating, compelling tale." (The New York Times)
"The homey wisdom of [Hammer's] voice, coupled with Woods's engaging story, makes this audiobook memorable." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


As a black person born and raised in the north, with most of my adult life lived in California, moving to metro Atlanta about 15 years ago was quite a culture shock. Everything that I'd ever read about the south was still alive and kickin' in Georgia. I normally shy away from books about good ole boys, the Klan, and (the lack of) civil rights. But in "Chiefs", the south and the southern way of thinking is captured in a way that I have never come across in my life. Stuart Woods' descriptions of the people and the places puts the reader on Main Street. You feel as if you are an integral part of the community. And if you are African-American, you will find yourself getting pissed off, while looking furtively over your shoulder out of sense of survival because Woods makes you think that the Klan is right outside your "shack"!

It was hard for me as a black person to keep my mind on the story, to keep everything in the proper perspective - that was then and this is now. I kept losing my place because I would get my "black back" up, allowing my intellect and reason to recede in the background. I can't begin to report on how white people take such stories - are they ashamed or do they just believe this is the natural order of life. Who knows? I don't. But if everyone just puts their personal feelings - good or bad - on the shelf, this will be one of the most amazing rides that a reader can take. It is only made better by the amazing vocal talents of narrator Mark Hammer who can be both soothing and menacing but always with the "bless your heart" tone of the true south.

This is about crime and deception and sexual depravity - all of the same things that we experience everyday in 2008. Sit back, get a glass of good bourbon or iced tea (sweet, of course!), and take a trip back to the early 1900s. Nothing has changed in this country. I'm not referring to the state of race relations - I'm talking about good old crime storytelling.
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- Linda Lou "OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - FRONT to BLACK!"

In my 'Top Ten' books of all time!

'Chiefs' completely blew me away -- who knew? I've read several of Stuart Woods other books, the Stone Barrington and Ed Eagle series in particular, and they were fine, nothing to really write home about. So I wasn't too excited when I saw this one on Audible. But? It was on sale, and it was long -- a prime requirement for me -- so what the heck? Why not?

Boy, was I wrong. "Chiefs" grabs you from the very first minutes and doesn't let go -- I literally cancelled two appointments this afternoon -- no way was I going to stop listening until I finished it. This was Katherine Stockett's "The Help" meets Robert Penn Warren's classic "All the King's Men", although arguably better than either. As a novel of southern culture, spanning three generations, as viewed through three very different men who served as chief of police in a small southern town, it's hard to imagine anything better than this one.

Few books draw you so completely into the character's lives as does "Chiefs". This is consummate storytelling. As each of the three segments finished, I was sad to see it end, figuring the next segment surely wouldn't be as good as the one I'd just finished. But I was never disappointed. Each was compelling in its own way.

It's really too bad it's being advertised as a "serial killer" book. Yes, that's an element, but that's sort of like saying that chocolate cake is about the sugar. Yes, that's an element, but that misses the point. This is a novel, not really detective fiction, as such. It's a story of courage and cowardice, of home and running away, of race, black and white, good men and evil scattered throughout. True, it's the 'killer' angle that ties the three administrations together, but that's really not the focus of the story.

I couldn't help comparing the whole situation to that of John Grisham. This was Stuart Woods first book -- written long before he published any of the more traditional detective fiction books he's more famous for. Yet "Chiefs" is so far above and beyond anything that Woods has written since, it's sometimes hard to believe it's the same author.

Same with Grisham. The first book he wrote -- "A Time To Kill" -- wasn't published until he'd already written and sold several other more traditional legal thrillers. Similarly, "A Time to Kill" is by far Grisham's finest work, although I'd admit "A Painted House" comes close in terms of literary merit. And also similarly, 'A Time to Kill" isn't really about rape and punishment, it's about the life and times of the people involved, the society in which these things happened. So it is with "Chiefs".

I know I will listen to this book again and again. If you haven't read or listened to it yet, you've got a real treat ahead of you. Don't miss this one. It's a classic.
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- karen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-29-2006
  • Publisher: Recorded Books