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HOUSE ODDS by Mike Lawson


by Mike Lawson

Pub Date: June 25th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8021-1995-7
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Odds favor a good time for the reader as Joe DeMarco faces his eighth case: a looming insider trading scandal with potentially fatal consequences.

Except for a few side trips to Manhattan and Atlantic City, Lawson’s Joe DeMarco stays close to his D.C. base this time as the venerable fixer for Rep. John Mahoney, now House Minority Leader after the 2012 midterm elections notched him down from House Speaker. The SEC has just arrested Mahoney’s daughter, Molly, for insider trading. Molly works for a firm that advises manufacturers on how to improve their products, and it appears that she may have used her firm’s information about a new submarine battery to invest a half million dollars. Mahoney is convinced she doesn’t have that kind of money, and DeMarco suspects that someone set Molly up to embarrass her father. Molly tells DeMarco she overheard a phone conversation in which a colleague, Douglas Campbell, seemed involved in an inside trade. DeMarco soon links Campbell to two other men, who, as college buddies at the University of Virginia, were witness to a suicide that may have been a murder. Meanwhile, in Atlantic City, Ted Allen, honcho at the Atlantic Palace Hotel, and his sniveling accomplice, Greg, wonder how much longer they can cook the books and keep their boss from spotting their major financial fumble. Then, Allen, clearly in league with the mob, approaches Mahoney with the disheartening news that Molly has racked up a considerable gambling debt. Allen offers to forgive her markers if Mahoney backs federal funding for a convention center that will plunk visitors smack in front of his casino. Mahoney’s odds against the house look slim: If he throws in with Allen, he could be exposed for mob connections. If he doesn’t, Molly could face prison, or worse.

A tad overlong, but funny lines, fiendishly complicated plotting, and swiftly and sharply etched characters make this installment one of the most enjoyable in the series.