Now that he’s tangled with every kind of Beltway lowlife imaginable (House Odds, 2013, etc.), fixer Joe DeMarco reaches over the miles and years to go after the man who killed his father.
Prefiguring his son’s complicated relationship to moral and legal ideals, Gino DeMarco was a good guy who kept drawing lines and then crossing them. When he lost his job as a longshoreman and his childhood friend Jerry Kennedy got him work as a bagman for Carmine Taliaferro, he told himself he wouldn’t kill anyone, then killed plenty of people, though all of them were criminals. Eventually, his determination to avenge Kennedy’s murder made him dispensable, and Carmine had him killed by Brian Quinn, a rising rookie cop also on his books. By the time dying underboss Tony Benedetto sees fit to tell Joe what happened to his old man many years ago, Joe’s settled into his job as a bottom feeder at the trough of House Minority Leader John Mahoney, and Quinn, the NYPD commissioner, is about to be nominated director of the FBI. Furious that Mahoney won’t back up his attempts to lean on Quinn, Joe threatens his boss with blackmail and promptly gets fired for his pains, leaving him basically alone and unfunded as he confronts an enemy who’s wealthy, powerful and surrounded by cops and civilians only too eager to do his bidding. Joe contemplates killing Quinn, torpedoing his nomination and ruining his reputation. When his moment of vengeance finally presents itself, though, it arrives in an utterly unexpected form, with bittersweet results that perfectly balance the demands of the revenge formula with the need to keep Joe afloat for further adventures.
Fast, assured and as refreshingly unsentimental as Joe himself.