HOUSE DIVIDED by Mike Lawson


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A cousin’s death draws D.C. fixer Joe DeMarco away from the golf course and into a case that teaches him much about how the war on terror is fought in this entertaining thriller from Lawson (House Justice, 2010, etc.).

With his boss in the hospital for gall bladder surgery and his girlfriend in Afghanistan on a secret mission for the CIA, DeMarco looks forward to time on the links. So he’s annoyed when he has to settle his second cousin’s will. Perhaps because he just wants to hit some balls, DeMarco ignores suspicious details surrounding his cousin’s death. First, the cousin, Paul Russo, was shot in the head early in the morning at the Iwo Jima Memorial. Then, Russo’s landlady tells DeMarco, the FBI searched Russo’s apartment after his death. And a woman at the hospice where Paul was a nurse says the FBI confiscated his office computer. The FBI, meanwhile, who have jurisdiction over the case since the shooting occurred on federal property, waste no time cremating Russo’s remains and suggest he was the victim of a drug deal gone bad. What DeMarco doesn’t know is that his cousin’s death connected to the war on terror and that the NSA, the FBI and the Pentagon want the matter covered up. Gen. Charles Bradford, for one, dispatches a man to take out the witnesses to Russo’s murder. And at the National Security Agency, Claire Whiting suspects the FBI is holding back on something with the Russo case. DeMarco, meanwhile, having learned his cousin was gay, talks to an ex-boyfriend, who’s in a hurry to leave town. The boyfriend finally admits Paul had acquired information that put his life in danger. Now unable to deny something’s afoot, DeMarco heads into a case that finds government agencies fighting and shadowing each other.

Some stodgy exposition aside, the case moves at a nice clip and the manner and methods of the war within the war on terror are fascinating.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8021-1978-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2011


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