Estimated read time: 4 min read

One Sentence Summary

The intertwined stories of three police chiefs in a small Georgia town reveal the dark secrets hiding behind the town's idyllic facade.

"Chiefs" by Stuart Woods: Unraveling the Mysteries of a Small Southern Town


"Chiefs" by Stuart Woods is a gripping novel that delves into the intricate history of a small town in Georgia and the enigmatic secrets that shroud it. Through the eyes of three different police chiefs, the story unfolds over several decades, revealing the deep-rooted mysteries and scandals that have plagued the town for generations.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview and Setting

The story is set in the fictional town of Delano, Georgia, and spans several decades, beginning in the early 1920s and concluding in the 1960s. The narrative follows the lives and careers of three successive police chiefs – Will Henry Lee, Sonny Butts, and John Rane – as they grapple with the dark underbelly of Delano. The town, seemingly idyllic on the surface, harbors sinister secrets that the chiefs are determined to uncover.

Main Characters

Will Henry LeeA young police chief determined to solve the town's first murder case.
Sonny ButtsWill Henry Lee's successor, who battles racial tensions and corruption.
John RaneThe final chief, who confronts the town's deepest and most sinister mysteries.

Story Points Over Chapters

Part 1: Will Henry Lee

  • Will Henry Lee becomes the first police chief of Delano and investigates the brutal murder of a young girl, Delano's first homicide.
  • Lee faces resistance from the townspeople as he delves into the dark secrets hidden within the community.

Part 2: Sonny Butts

  • Sonny Butts takes over as chief and encounters deep-seated racial tensions and corruption within the town.
  • Butts battles against the prevailing prejudices and attempts to bring justice to all citizens, irrespective of their race or social standing.

Part 3: John Rane

  • John Rane becomes the final chief and is determined to uncover the town's darkest and most sinister secrets.
  • Rane's investigation uncovers shocking revelations that have been buried for decades, shedding light on the true nature of Delano.

Main Events

Part 1: Will Henry Lee

  • Will Henry Lee's investigation into the murder of young Kate Rogers leads him to discover the town's unsettling past.
  • Lee's efforts to solve the case are met with resistance and threats, but he remains resolute in his pursuit of justice.

Part 2: Sonny Butts

  • Sonny Butts confronts deep-seated racism and corruption within the town's power structure.
  • Butts struggles to navigate the treacherous waters of small-town politics and maintain his integrity while seeking to root out corruption.

Part 3: John Rane

  • John Rane unravels the darkest secrets of Delano, exposing the town's most sinister and long-buried truths.
  • Rane's investigation culminates in a shocking revelation that shakes the foundations of the town and its inhabitants.

Themes and Insights

"Chiefs" explores themes of power, corruption, racism, and the enduring impact of history on a small Southern community. Through the intertwined stories of the three chiefs, the novel sheds light on the complexities of human nature and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Reader's Takeaway

Readers of "Chiefs" will be captivated by the intricate storytelling, compelling characters, and the rich tapestry of the small-town setting. The novel offers a thought-provoking exploration of the human condition, the enduring struggle for justice, and the profound impact of history on the present.


"Chiefs" is a masterfully crafted tale that weaves together the lives of three police chiefs and the tumultuous history of a small Southern town. Stuart Woods' evocative writing and compelling narrative make "Chiefs" a must-read for those intrigued by mystery, history, and the enduring quest for truth and justice.

Chiefs FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'Chiefs' by Stuart Woods?

    Chiefs is a mystery novel, with elements of crime fiction and thriller.

  2. When was 'Chiefs' by Stuart Woods first published?

    Chiefs was first published in 1981.

  3. What is the setting of 'Chiefs' by Stuart Woods?

    The book is set in the fictional town of Delano, Georgia, spanning several decades from the 1920s to the 1960s.

  4. Who are the main characters in 'Chiefs' by Stuart Woods?

    The book follows the lives of three police chiefs: Will Henry Lee, Sonny Butts, and Bobby Lee Swagger.

  5. Is 'Chiefs' by Stuart Woods part of a series?

    No, 'Chiefs' is a standalone novel and is not part of a series.