The Inside Ring (DeMarco Series #1)

The Inside Ring, was selected by The Seattle Times as one of the ten top thrillers of 2005, received positive reviews in more than twenty publications, and is currently being published in ten countries. Publisher’s Weekly stated: “While Lawson’s debut may look like others in the genre, it’s in a league by itself.”

The book begins with an assassination attempt on the president. The president is wounded and his best friend and a Secret Service Agent are killed. General Andrew Banks, the Secretary of Homeland Security, received a note prior to the assassination attempt warning him that the president was in danger and that Secret Service agents guarding the president had been compromised. Immediately after the assassination attempt, a man claiming to be the assassin is found dead in his home.

General Banks is reluctant to tell the FBI about the warning note partly for self-serving political reasons and partly because he doesn’t want to damage the Secret Service’s reputation based on a note that might be a hoax. Banks requests help from his friend, House Speaker, John Mahoney, and Mahoney assigns his troubleshooter, DeMarco, to determine if the Secret Service was really involved in the assassination attempt. Mahoney’s motive for helping is not pure: the Director of the Secret Service is an old political enemy. (For more about the lead characters in my DeMarco books, see the “Behind the Books” section of this website.

The novel moves at a breakneck pace and has plenty of humor as well as suspense. It snakes through the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Secret Service, and ultimately leads back to one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century.

The New York Daily News:  The Inside Ring is thrilling enough to demand a sequel.

The Baltimore Sun: In two words … more please.

The Independent (United Kingdom): Lawson writes a mean thriller, and has a sense of humor that hurts. I loved this one.

The Second Perimeter (DeMarco Series #2)

Bestselling Author Thomas Perry had this to say about The Second Perimeter: “A rich variety of spies, former spies, and criminal operatives entangled in a deadly and suspenseful war of attack and reprisal. What could be more entertaining? ”

When the Secretary of the Navy’s nephew tells him that two colleagues at a U.S. Naval base are committing fraud, his uncle is skeptical. Reluctant to launch an official investigation based on a relative’s vague suspicions, the Secretary asks House Speaker, John Mahoney, to send his go-to guy DeMarco to check out the story. As DeMarco and his friend Emma, a retired DIA agent, begin to investigate what they thought was a low-stakes government swindle, they come to the terrifying realization that an espionage ring has infiltrated the naval base.

The leader of the espionage ring is a woman with whom Emma has a history dating back to the Cold War. Their encounter destroyed the woman’s once promising career and turned her into a ruthless operative who cares about only one thing: destroying Emma. DeMarco has never been near a spy in his life – at least not that he ever knew of – and now he’s dealing with a foreign agent who is more lethal than anyone he’s ever encountered. Not only is Emma’s life in danger, but ultimately the Speaker himself becomes a target.

Sarah Weinman, critic for the Baltimore Sun: “…has snappy dialogue, fantastically off-kilter characters, and one extremely pissed off Chinese spy makes for non-stop reading. Lawson’s got the goods for bestsellerdom …”

The Oregonian: “In this sequel to his highly praised The Inside Ring, Lawson again ratchets up the suspense and takes DeMarco on a wild ride.”

Booklist: “At once a solid thriller and a revealing look behind the scenes of American politics, the tale will appeal to a wide spectrum of readers.”

The Tampa Bay Tribune: “…another one of those summer page-turning thrillers.”

House Rules (DeMarco Series #3)

House Rules begins with the FBI stopping a terrorist attack on the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel. The terrorists were young Muslim American men, but the mastermind behind the attack was an al-Qaeda operative working in the United States. The first attack is quickly followed by three more: an attempt to fly a plane into the White House and two attempts to destroy the U.S. Capitol. All the attacks involve Muslim Americans. An atmosphere of fear and xenophobia quickly permeates the country, resulting in an ambitious senator introducing a bill to deport Muslim immigrants and do background checks on all Muslim Americans. John Mahoney, Speaker of the House, refuses to support the bill but what he doesn’t tell the media is that he is a life-long friend of one of the terrorists and has his doubts regarding the FBI’s investigation into the attacks. He sends his man DeMarco down the rabbit hole to find the truth. House Rules involves mobsters, terrorists, meth dealers, and corrupt politicians. It’s a story of assassination, terrorism, political intrigue, and greed − a story where nothing is as it seems to be.

Tess Gerritsen, bestselling author of The Bone Garden, “House Rules has it all: a lightning-paced plot, a quirky cast of players, and best of all, one of the most engaging heroes I’ve ever encountered. In Joe DeMarco, Mike Lawson has created a charmingly likeable character whom I’ll happily follow for many books to come.”

House Secrets (DeMarco Series #4)

In House Secrets, a retired congressman asks John Mahoney — the cagey, hard-drinking Speaker of the House — to look into the death of a reporter who worked the political beat for the Washington Post. Mahoney sends his reluctant bagman, Joe DeMarco, to investigate – or, as Mahoney puts it, to turn over some rocks and see what sort of creatures crawl out.

DeMarco soon learns that the reporter was on the trail of Senator Paul Morelli, a rising star considered a shoe-in for his party’s presidential nomination. Some politicians are lucky, and Morelli has been luckier than most, but his past has already been scrutinized by the press and the other party. DeMarco decides the reporter’s death was nothing more than a tragic accident until CIA agents and mobsters start to crawl out from under those rocks he’s turned over.

House Secrets was selected as one of the best thrillers of 2009 by Library Journal, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine.

House Justice (DeMarco Series #5)

In House Justice, an American defense contractor attempts to sell U.S. missile technology to the Iranians — and the CIA knows all about it thanks to a spy in Tehran. But then the story is leaked to an ambitious journalist and the spy is exposed, brutally tortured, and executed.

The director of the CIA isn’t about to let the death of his spy go unpunished. A valuable asset has been callously sacrificed, and he’s going to find out who did it no matter how many rules he has to break. DeMarco’s boss, Speaker of the House John Fitzpatrick Mahoney has his own reasons to get to the bottom of the leak: he once had a fling with the journalist, and now that she’s in jail for refusing to reveal her source, she’s threatening to tell about their affair unless he helps get her out.

DeMarco and the CIA aren’t the only ones looking for the source of the leak. Someone else wants to avenge the spy’s death and is tailing DeMarco, hoping DeMarco will lead him to his prey. House Justice is a classic DeMarco thriller — fascinating characters, inside-the-beltway intrigue, and a gripping plot packed with surprises.

Library Journal: “Lawson has honed his skill to write a perfect political thriller — fast-moving, cynical, but ultimately moral.”

House Divided (DeMarco Series #6)

When the National Security Agency is caught wiretapping U.S. citizens without the proper warrants in 2005, a political scandal erupts and the secret program comes to a screeching halt. But Dillon Crane, the NSA genius who spearheaded the most sophisticated eavesdropping operation in history, isn’t about to sit idly by while spineless politicians sleepwalk the country into another 9/11 — and Crane cleverly moves his illegal eavesdropping program into the shadows.

But operating in the shadows can cause complications. When the NSA illegally records what appears to be a rogue military group killing two American citizens, Crane can’t simply walk over to the Pentagon and ask what’s going on — and before long, the largest intelligence agency in the country is locked into a deadly battle with a four-star army general who is just as capable and just as committed as Dillon Crane.

Caught in the middle of all this is Joe DeMarco. One of the civilians killed was his cousin, and all DeMarco’s trying to do is bury the poor guy and settle his estate — but DeMarco soon finds himself being used a sacrificial pawn in a lethal game between a master spy and a powerful general. Although a man with many flaws, DeMarco ultimately decides that he’s not going to be anyone’s pawn, no matter how powerful his opponents may be.

“The Political Thriller of the Year” John Lutz

“A great novel from a great author” Lisa Gardner

Barry Award Nominee for Best Thriller of 2011

House Blood (DeMarco Series #7)

In House Blood, Mike Lawson introduces us to Orson Mulray, CEO of Mulray Pharma, a cold and calculating man obsessed with profit and prestige. Mulray believes he has discovered a drug that could prevent a previously incurable disease. It could be the salvation of millions of people and make him billions of dollars. But the drug needs to be tested on human subjects and Mulray needs more than blood samples—he needs autopsy results.

Lizzie Warwick, a naive philanthropist who provides relief to third-world victims of wars and natural disasters, is the ideal tool. But then her D.C. lobbyist uncovers the plan, so Mulray has him killed and frames his partner, Brian Kincaid, for the murder.

Two years later, DeMarco is asked to look into the seemingly hopeless case but he has other things on his mind: his powerful boss, John Mahoney, has been ousted from his position as Speaker of the House; his girlfriend has left him; and his friend Emma may be dying. DeMarco has no expectation of freeing Kincaid—and he certainly doesn’t expect to become the target of two of the most ruthless killers he and Emma have ever encountered.

The seventh book in this celebrated series is a rollicking ride to Uganda, Peru, and beyond. Lawson expertly commands Washington politics, mercenaries, and the pharmaceutical industry for a juicy story full of lifelike characters and thrilling action.

House Odds (DeMarco Series #8)

D.C. fixer Joe DeMarco has been asked to handle a lot of difficult situations over the years for his boss, congressman John Mahoney. But nothing has ever been quite so politically sensitive, or has hit so close to home, as the task Mahoney hands DeMarco in House Odds.

Mahoney’s daughter, Molly, has been arrested and charged with insider trading. An engineer with a high-flying technology firm, she allegedly placed a half-million dollar bet on one of the firm’s clients. DeMarco’s job is to clear Molly’s name and keep his boss clean. But how did Molly get her hands on so much money to invest in the first place? Before long, DeMarco uncovers that there’s far more to Molly’s case than meets the eye, and the risk to Mahoney is more than just a little political embarrassment.

Featuring an extensive cast of mobsters and politicians, House Odds is a gripping tale of high stakes scheming.

Bestselling Author Phillip Margolin: “House Odds gives you a look at the sordid underbelly of Washington politics where you will meet crooked politicians, evil gangsters, and violent fixers mixed into a clever, original, fast moving and unpredictable plot. Enjoy!”

“Lawson rivets in House Odds throwing Joe DeMarco – that engaging charmer you want to have your back – right into the rear corridors of Capitol Hill, the power deals, and yes, the Mob gets involved. Like Joe, we wonder, as he raises the question – who really are the bad guys?”
—Cara Black, author of Murder at the Lanterne Rouge

HOUSE RECKONING (DeMarco Series #9)

When Joe DeMarco was growing up, he always knew his father had a shadowy job working for a violent Mafioso in New York. But he didn’t know that his father had been a hit man until he was murdered. The crime was never solved. Twenty years later, one of Gino’s former mob associates is dying and wants to get something off his chest before retiring to his grave: the truth about Gino DeMarco’s killer.

DeMarco, whose career prospects were limited by his dark family past, is now a fixer for Congressmen John Mahoney, a hard-drinking Bostonian with his own unique sense of ethics. But his boss won’t help him when it comes to avenging his father’s death – the political risk is too great – and DeMarco must ask himself: Is revenge over a two-decades old tragedy worth his job – and maybe even his life.

Only the alleged killer was not just another hood. At the time he was a supposedly upstanding citizen, and in the intervening years, his career has flourished. Now he is on the brink of taking a job in Washington, D.C. that will leave him virtually untouchable. If DeMarco has any hope of finding out the truth and avenging his father’s death, he’ll have to act quickly. But how far is he willing to go?

House Reckoning tells DeMarco’s personal story in full for the first time, from his upbringing to his complicated relationship with his father and mother to the start of his career. Full of great characters and humor, and featuring a twisty plot that builds to a shocking conclusion, it is a must-read for fans, and an excellent introduction to this fantastic series.

House Rivals (DEMARCO SERIES #10)

House Rivals, the tenth book in Mike Lawson’s award-winning series, takes DeMarco further out of his element than ever before, as he is sent to North Dakota to protect a passionate but naïve twenty-two-year-old firebrand blogger who has been assaulted and is receiving death threats. Sarah is on a relentless crusade against a tycoon who has profited handsomely from the natural gas boom in the Dakotas and who has been bribing politicians and judges to keep things in his favor. DeMarco suspects that a fixer like himself is pulling strings for the tycoon but as DeMarco tries to identify his adversaries, the situation turns unexpectedly violent and DeMarco finds himself in a battle of wits against two people who will stop at nothing to win. Smartly written with Lawson’s trademark smooth prose and subtle humor, House Rivals is an enthralling, timely thriller that readers won’t want to miss.