Cover image for Chiefs
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Signet, 2005.
Physical Description:
x, 578 p. ; 19 cm.
Geographic Term:
Beginning in 1920, Chiefs spans 40 years, chronicling the experiences of three Georgia police chiefs who watch the world, their town and their jobs, change. At the heart of this is a 40-year-old mystery each chief must try to crack.


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Stuart Woods's Edgar Award-winning debut novel--a classic American mystery saga about three generations of lawmen tangled in a web of passion, secrets, destiny, and murder in their small Southern town...

In the winter of 1920, the first body is found in Delano, Georgie--the naked, brutalized corpse of a young boy. It is a crime too horrific to be ignored, the first of many that will span four decades--embroiling three police chiefs in a remarkable manhunt that will expose the hatreds, fear, and festering wounds beneath the surface of their sleepy God-fearing community.

Author Notes

Stuart Woods was born in Manchester, Georgia on January 9, 1938. He received a B. A in sociology from the University of Georgia in 1959. He worked in the advertising business and eventually wrote two non-fiction books entitled Blue Water, Green Skipper and A Romantic's Guide to the Country Inns of Britain and Ireland. His first novel, Chiefs, was published in 1981. It won an Edgar Award and was made into a TV miniseries starring Charlton Heston. His other works include the Stone Barrington series, the Holly Barker series, the Will Lee series, the Ed Eagle series, the Rick Barron series and the Teddy Fay series. He won France's Prix de Literature Policiere for Imperfect Strangers.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Kirkus Review

Police chiefs, that is--in an episodic five-decade tale of three chiefs and many connected murders in one tiny Georgia town. The first chief is cotton farmer Will Henry Lee, who escapes the boll-weevil plague on his farm by asking for the job of sheriff in Delano, a new 1919 town devised in part by a banker-politician. But very soon Will is handed the worst case of his career: a naked teenager is found dead under a bluff from which he's fallen, and nearby is the house of Foxy Funderburke, a weirdly immaculate, crazy military type and gun fanatic who seems to be the likeliest suspect. But nothing can be proved--as is also the case with two subsequent teenage-boy deaths. And just as Will is about to break the case, he's killed--by a delirious (malaria) black man. So, while Will's son Billy Lee grows up to become a WW II bomber pilot and later lieutenant-governor of Georgia (with a shot at replacing Southerner Lyndon Johnson on JFK's reelection ticket), the murder-mystery lies fallow--despite subsequent missing teenagers--until bully-boy war-hero Sonny Butts, a black-baiting Klansman, becomes a police chief: he confronts Foxy. . . and gets himself shot and buried along with his motorcycle. Thus, it's up to Delano's first black police chief--Tucker Watts, who happens to be the son of the man who killed Will Henry--to close in on the maniac-murderer. Considering the current horror of murdered black children in Atlanta, this tale of mass slaughter is all too timely. But even without that topical hook, Woods' first novel is strong, decent, and suspenseful--especially rich in its varied, appealing characterizations. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.