By the Book @ Rogers Memorial Library

House Odds, by Mike Lawson

“Molly Mahoney was about two twitches away from a nervous breakdown.”

Joe DeMarco is not your everyday attorney.  Instead of sitting in a fancy office with a view of Washington D.C., he works from a closet-sized room in the sub-basement of the U.S. Capitol.  His official title is “Counsel Pro Tem for Liaison Affairs,” which does not explain DeMarco’s job at all.  In reality, he works for Massachusetts Congressman, John Mahoney, taking care of things that Mahoney may not want traced back to his office.  In House Odds, by Mike Lawson, DeMarco finds himself up to his neck in situations that require his own special brand of creative problem solving.

Molly Mahoney, the Congressman’s mousy middle daughter, has been arrested for insider trading, and Mahoney wants DeMarco to make the problem go away.  DeMarco is sure that Molly has been framed — she’s just not the type to do something illegal — besides, where would she come up with a half million dollars?  Molly works as an engineer, lives in a mostly unfurnished apartment and drives a broken-down old car.

So DeMarco sets out to fix the problem, dealing with tricky lobbyists, slimy casino managers and some truly scary thugs.  The story twists and turns in the way that really good thrillers do.  DeMarco is a likeable character, but certainly not without flaws. He uses charm when he can, and violence when charm doesn’t work.  The Congressman is a powerful figure, used to getting his way and not averse to exerting his authority to manipulate the outcome of any situation.  His long-suffering wife, Mary Pat, serves as a voice of conscience to her husband and their children.

Politics, gambling, organized crime and the financial markets combine in an explosive way in this novel.  Long forgotten deaths and back-room deals come to light, as DeMarco tries to fix the problems for his boss, while staying true to his own rather flexible moral code.  DeMarco knows that almost everyone involved in this situation, with the exception of a zealot SEC employee, has dirty hands.  It’s tough to try to resolve an issue when there’s no real “good guy” to come out on top.

House Odds is the eighth book  in the Joe DeMarco series.  While it stands on its own, you may want to start with the first in the series, The Inside Ring. Fans of David Baldacci and Vince Flynn should enjoy this well-crafted page-turner.

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