The Inside Ring
Michael Lawson
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The Inside Ring
Michael Lawson
336 pages
June 2006
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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"Eagle One is in danger... the inside ring has been compromised." The message is sent through appropriate channels to the director of the Secret Service, Patrick Donnelly, who ignores it. Now the President's best friend is dead, and the President is wounded.

Attorney Joseph DeMarco works exclusively for the Speaker of the House, John Fitzpatrick Mahoney. Mahoney offers DeMarco's investigative services to Andrew Banks, the current Director of Homeland Security, because Banks is in possession of the mysterious note. With Banks' blessing, DeMarco sets out to learn the truth about a Secret Service agent in the President's inner circle, Billy Ray Mattis.

Mahoney has faith in DeMarco's talents and anticipates a blow-by-blow of every conversation about the letter and those involved in its handling. But things heat up quickly and DeMarco enlists the aid of Emma - a woman of many talents, a former DIA operative with extraordinary resources and the attitude of a Washington survivor. Emma is potentially DeMarco's most valuable asset in a series of harrowing adventures.

When they have sufficient information, DeMarco and Banks approach the FBI but are ambushed by top officials in the administration, men who wish to maintain the current explanation of the assassination attempt: a lone shooter who kills himself. Faced down by the Attorney General, the FBI and the Director of the Secret Service, DeMarco and Banks hit a wall. But Mahoney isn't giving up that easily and sends DeMarco off to navigate even deeper waters, down south in Georgia, the home of the Secret Service agent.

The cast of characters is impressive: in D.C., the sharks are well-fed, pompous in the exercise of authority; in the South, business is more elementary, the small time graft of neighborly politicians; then there are the generic killers-for-hire, soulless pawns who murder for the highest bidder. In Georgia, DeMarco surfaces in a lush, verdant country where evil wears a friendly face but is no less deadly, subject to a master of deceit who manipulates the powerless with impunity.

DeMarco may be out on a limb with slick Washington vipers, but he is literally lost in a gator-infested Georgia swamp, pursued by an ex-military sharpshooter working as a Park Ranger and a silent Indian with dead eyes. Life goes on in the Okefenokee Swamp, "strong things killing weak things, fast things eating slow things. All things screaming in the dark."

Atmospheric and riveting, the action never stops in this terrific book as the plot winds in a serpentine path to a nail-biting ending. Whether in the nation's capitol or in a rural county where a rich man wreaks revenge for a poverty-riddled youth, the corruption is the same: absolute. In a devilishly complicated plot, the tentacles of greed reach back in time, to a long, lonely road in the middle of nowhere, resurrecting the past as an avaricious secret is born.

Click here for Luan Gaines' interview with The Inside Ring author Mike Lawson

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Luan Gaines, 2005

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