The Inside Ring

Published January 28, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

Review of The Inside Ring by Mike Lawson

Overview from www.bn.com (shortened for length): “From a bluff overlooking Georgia’s untamed Chattooga River, an assassin fires three shots. The President of the United States is wounded; his best friend and a Secret Service agent are killed. Two days later, a man in Landover, Maryland, commits suicide and leaves behind overwhelming evidence that he was responsible for the assassination attempt.”

My Review:

This political thriller, unlike others, begins with a fictional newspaper article reporting an assignation attempt on the president, as well as the death of his author friend and a Secret Service agent. A suspect later presents himself as the shooter in a suicide note he left behind, stating that he acted alone. From this point on, the case appears to be closed.

For a while it is closed. Then Joe DeMarco enters the picture and starts to question everything. He works for congress and unofficially for the Speaker of the House. He is a lawyer and investigator who helps cover up problems or make them go away for any person that his boss, Mahoney, considers valuable. He soon finds that he is in over his head though, when Mahoney tells him to do a job for the secretary of Homeland Security, Andrew Banks.

Banks reveals to DeMarco that he has inside information about the recent attempted assassination of the president, information that he didn’t share with the FBI when he was questioned about the incident. He doesn’t say so of course, but DeMarco knows that he feels guilty about not telling them what he knows. He tells DeMarco that he wants him to investigate the incident, what really happened, and every person who might have been involved.

By this time DeMarco is flabbergasted. His investigations for the Speaker thus far have never been this serious, this dangerous. And he won’t have the power of the badge to back him up.

In addition to that, DeMarco’s got some baggage of his own. He is virtually unemployable due to his father’s criminal past. Though he would like to, he cannot go out and find another job easily. And if he does something that would damage his boss’ position, his boss will simply disown the guy. So he goes out to do the job, and prays he won’t get killed.

Okay, the best thing about this story are the characters. The character of DeMarco is one of the most unusual. It is nice to have an Italian-American character who is both smart and on the right side of the law for a change but what really makes him interesting is his position with the federal government. Unlike many other thriller protagonists, DeMarco is not a cop, a federal agent or a traditional lawyer with a client. His position with the government is hush-hush not only because of his background with crime but also because of the sometimes unsavory things he is forced to do for his boss.

On the negative side, the reviews I read on www.bn.com were right about one thing, there is a lot of foul language in this story, so much so that I almost stopped reading in the beginning. I don’t mind a few swear words here and there but this seemed a little over the top to me. Many of the times the words were included not just in dialogue but also in the third person omniscient narration. As writers, we try to stay true to our characters’ voices, but if none of characters is the narrator, I don’t see why there need to be so many four-letter words in the narration too. It takes me as a reader out of the story.

The other bad thing about this story was the subject matter of some of the sub-plots. Some evil things happen to some of the female characters in this story. These things gave me nightmares one night, which means I won’t be reading this book again.

If you can deal with all these things, you might like this book. It was not exactly what I was expecting and that is a good thing. Due to the downside however, I can’t recommend it.

Contains: graphic violence, characters with questionable morals, domestic violence, rape, sexual innuendo, and a lot of foul language.

Below is a clip of an interview with the author about his writing process and his characters:

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