Monday, September 01, 2008

"Dead on Arrival", by Mike Lawson (Harper Collins)

Political Thriller done right!

Mike Lawson's debut, The Inside Ring (2006) introduced us to Joe DeMarco, trouble-shooter for the Speaker of the US Congress, Mahoney. Called on to do all the jobs the Speaker doesn't want publicised, DeMarco works in the dirty underbelly of US politics (not to mention having an office in the basement). The novel is told primarily from the perspective of DeMarco and the Speaker (who's actually an awesome character, so his increased presence here is definitely welcome), providing insight into both the public and private workings of the US government.

A series of failed attacks by Muslim Americans gets the politicians all riled up and calling for blood. At first, the call is only from a freshman, Senator Broderick, who calls for Muslim registration (to begin with). As these attacks get larger and more brazen, the Speaker sends DeMarco off to investigate why one of the attackers, who happened to be a family friend, decided to slaughter his family and try to fly his Cessna into the White House.

Working with various government agencies (cheekily dropping the Speaker's name whenever he meets resistance), DeMarco uncovers a plot of far greater magnitude and consequence.

Lawson has recovered from his lacklustre second novel, The Payback (2007), and Dead On Arrival returns us to a gritty political world, where almost everyone can be bought or intimidate. For a hatchetman, DeMarco lacks the Bond-esque qualities of many leading men (he's uncomfortable around guns, for example, and has a habit of getting caught), making him far more believable and, strangely, likeable.

With tighter prose, Lawson's really upped his game. A longer, slow-burning thriller, Dead On Arrival will appeal to anyone who likes political thrillers focussing on current events, and especially those who aren't in any hurry to get to the end. Highly recommended in a field that is growing increasingly more popular and competitive.

For fans of: Andrew Britton, Vince Flynn, Kyle Mills, Alex Berenson, David Baldacci

No comments:

Post a Comment