House Secrets
Mike Lawson
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Buy *House Secrets: A Joe DeMarco Thriller* by Mike Lawson online

House Secrets: A Joe DeMarco Thriller
Mike Lawson
Grove Press
416 pages
June 2010
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Lawson unleashes his Washington, D.C., fixer for the Speaker of the House, John Fitzpatrick Mahoney, in another nail-biting adventure. This time, Joe De Marco is assigned a relatively simple task: investigate the complaints of a former congressman who is convinced that his journalist sonís recent demise isnít an accident but the result of foul play.

A mediocre newspaper reporter at best, Terry Finley leaves no clues behind, only a fragment of paper left in his wallet that has a short list of names and most of the digits of a phone number. The only common denominator in the names is an up-and-coming political star and potential candidate for the office of president of the United States, Paul Morelli.

Morelli is handsome and charismatic with an unblemished record, his journey impressive, from assistant district attorney to district attorney to NYC mayor and senator. Lots of people are counting on Morelli, including the speaker. Even De Marco is impressed when meeting the senator from New York for the first time, an intelligent, attractive man in contrast to his burly chief of staff.

De Marco takes on this new task with his usual mix of enthusiasm and cynicism, a working knowledge of power politics and backroom deals, the uneasy bedfellows of expedience and integrity. With little evidence that isnít circumstantial, Joe calls on characters from previous De Marco novels, including the former head of an intelligence agency who informs De Marco he is being tailed by ex-CIA thugs.

Joe is no slacker in these cat-and-mouse games. The more he is threatened, the more he perseveres, and what he discovers under the dark underbelly of political ambition is ugly and dangerous. De Marco is challenged in this novel, betrayed and frustrated.

This genre is Lawsonís forte, on his game from the first chapter. As a fixer, De Marco has seen his share of corruption and the secrets of the movers and shakers, done his business in the shabby corridors of power. Given questionable evidence, De Marco is inclined to err on the side of caution, but Lawson never lets his protagonist off that easy, forcing him to make tough choices and face down personal demons.

As Joe works his inside sources, the reader gets a birdís-eye view of the Washington machinations he thrives on: leverage, an exchange of favors, the shifting layers of loyalty and opportunity. This thriller is no exception, another solid chronicle of the vagaries of Washington politics and the promises of elected leaders with feet of clay.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2009

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