House Revenge (Joe DeMarco #11), by Mike Lawson

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Mike Lawson, Grove Atlantic, and Atlantic Monthly Press for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with this review.

As Lawson brings Joe DeMarco back for another ‘fixer’ experience, the stakes are higher than ever. This is no Washington political mess that needs rectifying or an international scandal that might sully the President’s reputation, but an issue of a local nature. During a meeting in his congressional district back in Boston, Congressman John Mahoney heard the plight of Elinore Dobbs, an elderly woman who is being forced out of her apartment against her will. Project developer, Sean Callahan, is behind the attempted eviction but Dobbs will not cede her dwelling, no matter the recompense. Mahoney knows Callahan well, both as a powerful contributor to his past campaigns and a thorn in his side. When a discussion leads Mahoney nowhere, he calls on DeMarco to head to Boston to iron out a solution. It is at this time that DeMarco comes face to face with the McNulty brothers, small-time enforcers who have been sent by Callahan to resolve the Dobbs issue. After a few run-ins with the brothers and learning of an ‘accident’ that befell Dobbs, DeMarco takes things into his own hands and seeks to remedy the McNulty issue. However, upon turning up that stone, a larger issue emerges and DeMarco must end Callahan’s bid to continue his massive project. Using the oddest assortment of connections, DeMarco tries to bring down Sean Callahan while his boss watches on, cursing from the sidelines. An excellent story combined with fast-paced action keeps Lawson at the top of his game and DeMarco a champion in the hearts of readers!

As I am used to the audiobook versions of Lawson’s work, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the story flowed and swiftly the action dissolved chapters. Any reader used to Lawson’s style will know that DeMarco’s adventures can take many tangents, which keeps everyone guessing and the plot from getting stale. In this story, which moves away from traditional politicking, Lawson utilises some interesting angles while keeping DeMarco’s rough exterior in tact. Additionally, the three tiered storyline keeps DeMarco on the move and the reader is able to keep everything in order, while not losing interest. The Dobbs situation is handled nicely, though not as the reader might hope, which flows nicely into a DeMarco-McNulty brothers clash, complete with just enough violence to keep series readers from doubting DeMarco’s abilities, and finally a clash to cut the head off the beast as DeMarco seeks to bring Callahan down. Put together, the pace never lessens and the characters used in all three parts keep the story alive. An interesting summation to the story leaves a few threads out there for Lawson to utilise at a later date, though it is clear that DeMarco is always stepping into unforeseen situations that require less than orthodox solutions. A great novel that should keep Lawson fans excited for another year, but pining for a further adventure.

Kudos, Mr. Lawson for this refreshing look at Joe DeMarco and local politics. I enjoy your take on things and hope to read many more novels in the years to come.