Tuesday, June 7, 2011

'House Divided' a Joe DeMarco Thriller by Mike Lawson--Book Review

Joe DeMarco has a week off.  His boss, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is out of town, and Joe wants to play golf.  As the shadowy 'fixer' for the Speaker, the guy that gets things done that shouldn't see the light of day, this rare opportunity is not to be missed.  His gal pal, a CIA operative, is on assignment too, so nothing should come between his pitching wedge and a bucket of balls-except murder.  Specifically the murder of his nephew, an innocuous hospice nurse in Washington D.C.

The Deputy Director of the NSA, after politically embarrassing revelations of illegal wiretaps on U.S. citizens forces changes in public policy, concludes that the only patriotic solution is to ignore the law and create a black-op division hidden in plain sight (as much as the NSA is ever in plain sight).  During an illegal surveillance they intercept communications that implicate another U.S. entity with military connections.  It may be responsible for a murder, or murders, and it might just be led by someone very powerful at the Pentagon, who seems to be tasking members of the army 'Old Guard'--sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknowns--for an illicit agenda of his own.  Being illegal themselves, they can't very well just turn it over to the Justice Department, so NSA sets up a black-op sting operation of it's own.

Joe, meanwhile, trying to quickly tie up the loose ends of his nephew's affairs finds himself drawn deeper into a scenario that just doesn't pass the smell test.  Ordinary nurses don't usually draw the scrutiny of the FBI within minutes of discovery of the crime.  As he tries to sort out the mystery, the web of conspiracies deepens and he's soon inextricably enmeshed in a titanic struggle of egos and agencies all trying to prevail while remaining cloaked in a shroud of secrecy.

DeMarco knows full well that in any fishing trip being the bait is never a winning strategy,  nonetheless he finds himself helplessly forced into the role, with the NSA as the fishers, and the Pentagon as the lunker.  House Divided races inexorably, with gathering speed and action-packed excitement, toward an unnerving conclusion loaded with tightly plotted twists, memorable sinister characters and a singularly disquieting imagination of just how vulnerable we all are in this age of electronic eavesdropping and satellite tracking, no matter how well informed or connected we think we may be.

Mike Lawson, in his sixth installment of the Joe DeMarco series, has demonstrated once again his mastery of the political thriller and an enviable ability to make believable characters jump off the pages and into our own adrenaline rush to turn the pages to find out what happens next.  Buy and read this book thriller junkies, it won't disappoint.

House Divided  (tentative release date July 2011)
by Mike Lawson  (click for FB link)

Atlantic Monthly Press (Grove/Atlantic, Inc.)
ISBN -13:  978-0-8021-1978-0

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