• Chiefs

  • Will Lee, Book 1
  • By: Stuart Woods
  • Narrated by: Mark Hammer
  • Series: Will Lee, Book 1
  • Length: 17 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 29-12-06
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Recorded Books
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 (38 ratings)


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.
©1981 Stuart Woods (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC
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Critic reviews

"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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Regular price: £37.29

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Allan on 30-01-07

A wonderful audiobook

I have just listened to Chiefs and cannot recommend it too highly; it works both for lovers of a great detective story and those who like a very good story, beautifully narrated.

Like many of the books I've chosen since joining Audible, this is yet another author I seem to have missed - much to my regret - but I certainly cannot wait until next month when I will listen to the same author again.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Sarah on 11-10-07


Over the past couple of years I have listened to a constant stream of crime and thriller audiobooks. Though most are enjoyable, there are very few that stand out as memorable. This is one. It is a well written and beautifully read. It made an impression on me to an extent that I remember the plot and characters and enjoyed the fact that not all the ends were tied up at the end. I can recommend this as a truly entertaining download.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By karen on 17-09-13

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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66 of 67 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Old Hippy on 24-05-08

Absolutely Terrific!

I would have to say this is one of the best tales I have ever listened to, watched or read. The characters are authentic, realistic, engaging and compelling. The story is beautifully woven and draws you in to the suspense. Several nights running I stayed up until wee hours, not wanting to put down the player. The narrator was fantastic! He captured the personalities and emotions wonderfully. I don't usually carry on like this about a book or movie, but - if you're not familiar with this tale - don't pass this one by. (I understand it was actually made into a mini-series in the Eighties with some great stars, but I hadn't seen it at the time.)

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37 of 38 people found this review helpful

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