"The Inside Ring"
(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky JUN 12, 2005)
“There was an arrogance about [him] that was palpable. It was the kind of arrogance DeMarco had observed all too often in powerful politicians: men so accustomed to being catered to, so confident of their authority, so used to unquestioning obedience, that they come to believe they are untouchable.”
Michael Lawson’s debut political thriller, The Inside Ring, features Joe DeMarco, a lawyer and troubleshooter for the powerful Speaker of the House, John Fitzgerald Mahoney. Mahoney orders Joe to surreptitiously find the truth behind an apparent assassination attempt against the President of the United States. An assailant wounded the President and killed both the President’s best friend and a Secret Service agent. Although the authorities have identified a suspect in the shooting, questions still remain. How did the attacker penetrate the tight security surrounding the President? What was the motive for the shooting? Most intriguing of all, who sent a note to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Andy Banks, warning him that there would soon be an attempt on the President’s life?
The “inside ring” refers to those Secret Service agents who are closest to the President when he is on the move. Members of this ring are expected to sacrifice themselves to protect the President. Joe decides to investigate the members of this elite unit. His inquiries ruffle the feathers of some highly placed and politically powerful individuals, especially Patrick Donnelly, the director of the Secret Service. Donnelly wants the investigation into the shooting closed; he insists that it is absurd to pin blame on one of his agents.
The Inside Ring is an exciting and fast-paced novel of suspense. Joe DeMarco is, in many ways, a breath of fresh air. Although he is the son of a mobster, Joe hates violence and he is as inept with his fists as he is with firearms. Nor is Joe a great success with the ladies. He has an ex-wife and no steady girlfriend. In thrillers of this type, the protagonist is often a superhero who cradles a semiautomatic in one hand and a gorgeous blonde in the other. Joe is smart, tenacious, courageous, and honest, but he is not very intimidating. He is a person that the average reader can root for.
Another intriguing character is Emma, a former member of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a friend of Joe’s. Although she is very attractive, Emma is no bimbo. She is a fiftyish woman who has been there and done that. She has access to classified information and has a whole cadre of ex-cops, ex-soldiers, and computer hackers on hand to do her bidding. This fearless and formidable woman, who is extremely comfortable with firearms, provides Joe with the muscle that he needs to go up against some fairly sadistic villains. It’s a nice twist to give a prominent role to a female protagonist with both brains and toughness.
Michael Lawson's story, although convoluted and not entirely realistic, is involving, suspenseful, and entertaining. Lawson has a breezy style, and I enjoyed the smart and humorous dialogue, delicious political intrigue, unpredictable twists and turns, and chilling action sequences. The Inside Ring is an auspicious first novel by a talented author.
- Amazon readers rating: from 50 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from The Inside Ring at RandomHouse.com
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Inside Ring (2005)
- The Second Perimeter (2006)
- House Rules (2008)
- House Secrets (2009)
- House Justice (2010)
- House Divided (2011)
- House Blood (2012)
- House Odds (June 2013)
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- Official website for Michael Lawson
- Curled Up interview with Michael Lawson
- MostlyFiction.com review of House Secrets
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About the Author:
Michael Lawson served for years as a senior civilian executive for the United States Navy.
He lives in the Pacific Northwest.