The Inside Ring, Mike Lawson, Anchor Books, $6.99.
This fun read will only take a couple of hours and by the end of the book you'll be enamored of series character Joe DeMarco, a "fixer" for the Speaker of the House. Since this is the first book in Lawson's series he does some set up work—DeMarco's family background is sketched in (his dad was a mob enforcer) and there's a mysterious friend, Emma, whose bona fides and lethal-ness are nicely established. While DeMarco himself doesn't carry a gun, Emma has no such moral squeamishness.
The plot concerns an assassination attempt on the President, one that killed the President's best friend and a secret service agent. The perpetrator has apparently been found and has committed suicide, so things seems nicely tied up, but there's a General Banks in Homeland Security who feels uneasy. His uneasiness comes from an anonymous letter that was delivered before the assassination attempt, a letter that implicates someone on the "Inside Ring" of the Secret Service. Both Banks and DeMarco's boss, Mahoney, want him to look into it. DeMarco feels out of his depth but goes to work anyway; he becomes more and more convinced that Banks is right, and his investigation centers on one of the agents. Billy Mathis.
This is one of those books where the central problem seems impenetrable. Different writer, but Anne Perry is also excellent at setting up this kind of situation. Only a polishing and worrying away at the problem yields a crack, and like Perry, Lawson is concerned with corruption at the very top levels of power. He's also incredibly gifted at narrative—you won't be able to put this book down, and you won't be able to forget Joe DeMarco.
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