House Secrets (Joe DeMarco Series #4)

House Secrets (Joe DeMarco Series #4)

4.3 41
by Mike Lawson

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"It all begins with an assignment from the Speaker, John Fitzpatrick Mahoney, Joe DeMarco's wily hard-drinking boss. One of Mahoney's old colleagues has doubts about the accidental death of his son, a mediocre newspaper reporter who, in the days before his death, had claimed that he had a lead on the biggest political scandal since Watergate. But he always said

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"It all begins with an assignment from the Speaker, John Fitzpatrick Mahoney, Joe DeMarco's wily hard-drinking boss. One of Mahoney's old colleagues has doubts about the accidental death of his son, a mediocre newspaper reporter who, in the days before his death, had claimed that he had a lead on the biggest political scandal since Watergate. But he always said things like that and nothing ever panned out. To appease his old friend, Mahoney wants DeMarco to turn over some rocks around Washington and see what crawls out from under them." "It turns out the reporter was on the trail of Senator Paul Morelli, the handsome and gifted rising star from New York, considered a shoo-in for his party's presidential nomination. Some politicians are lucky, and Morelli has been luckier than most, but his past has already been scrutinized and he looks clean. It seems like there's nothing for DeMarco to do. But then, why is he being followed by a pair of thugs who freelance for the CIA?" Dirty secrets, beltway politics, and divided loyalties threaten as DeMarco's investigation spirals dangerously out of control. Intelligence operatives, a sinister chief of staff, mobsters, and characters from DeMarco's past all play a role as he tries to find out the truth and do the right thing.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In Lawson's excellent fourth Washington thriller to feature Joe DeMarco (after House Rules), the government investigator looks into the drowning death of a Washington Post reporter working a story involving Paul Morelli, a charismatic U.S. senator from New York. Morelli, "the man most likely to be the Democratic candidate for president in the next election," stands for all that is liberal and good, but, unfortunately, after a couple of drinks, he morphs into a sexual predator bent on molestation and rape. To cover up this behavior, Morelli turns to a mysterious benefactor who persuades the women involved to deny the incidents; anyone who doesn't go along gets killed. After DeMarco's boss, Speaker of the House John Mahoney, tells him to get the goods on Morelli, DeMarco sets up an elaborate sting. The sting succeeds, but those who helped with the operation begin to turn up dead. The action builds to a stunning final twist. (July)

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Kirkus Reviews
Uneven thriller follows the trail of a dead reporter who dug enough dirt to cancel a senator's bid for the presidency. With political fixer Joe DeMarco's fourth case (House Rules, 2008, etc.), Lawson brings little change to the formula: covert plots, family secrets, clammed-up sources and suspicious deaths. Trying to find out why Washington Post reporter Terry Finley was apparently murdered, Joe learns the middling scribe may have hit on a career-making story. A list of phone numbers stashed (too) conveniently in Finley's wallet leads Joe to several women who may have been sexually victimized by Senator Paul Morelli, the Democratic front-runner in the upcoming presidential election. Morelli may also be the puppet of someone referred to as "the old man." Joe and his partner Emma cut to the chase, interviewing sources in quick, engaging scenes spiked with sharp lines. A big break comes (rather easily) when Morelli's alcoholic wife informs Joe that the would-be president sexually molested her daughter from a previous marriage. After the wife talks, she's murdered, and Joe is convinced Morelli planned the killing. To trap the senator, he hatches an incredibly transparent plot. Funded by the Republicans' presidential front-runner, he hires a down-on-her-luck Hollywood actress to tempt Morelli to rough her up. Joe plants video cameras in her apartment and engages a cop to cuff Morelli as he puts the moves on the actress. That canny Morelli would fall for this amateurish setup is hard to swallow, but he does and it works, effectively ending his bid for the presidency. What later transpires noses the suspense back up for an over-the-top yet chilling finish. Brisk pacing, some crisp scenes and astrong finish offset the been-there, done-that plot. Agent: David Gernert/The Gernert Company
From the Publisher

Outstanding.” —Library Journal, Five Best Thrillers of the Year

[I] consider Mike Lawson my favorite political thriller writer (Flynn, Baldacci and Metzger will have to go to the back of the line)." —George Easter, Deadly Pleasures

House Secrets is his best yet.” —Jeff Ayers, The Big Thrill

“Congressional fixer Joe DeMarco returns in the fourth of Mike Lawson’s brainy, character-driven and droll novels of D.C. politics.” —Adam Woog, Seattle Times

“Writing a top-tier Washington thriller ain’t easy. Just think of the competition. … I’m happy to reporter that Mike Lawson is up to the challenge. House Secrets is plotted artfully, written with panache and has a surprise ending—don’t cheat and peak—that made me roar with laughter. … Lawson has a true insider’s insight about real-world spinelessness, venality, and corruption that have taken the place of moral courage and true leadership on Capitol Hill…a fine ear for dialogue...[and] a good eye for irony. … What makes House Secrets so delicious is that even though we know Senator Morelli is a bad apple almost from the get-go, Lawson inserts enough twists and turns into this book to keep readers guessing how it all resolves right up until the incredibly funny last page. Trust me. Don’t cheat and peek.” —John Weisman, Washington Times

Lawson’s got the goods for bestsellerdom.” —Sarah Weinman, The Baltimore Sun

“The twists, turns, and surprises never flag, leading to a blockbuster conclusion that is letter perfect, one that few will forget anytime soon. … [House Secrets is] a wry and entertaining novel about Washington politics.” —Mary Whipple,

A startling tale, with twists and turns galore. … Lawson has created an engrossing, full of sinister characters from both sides of the law. … House Secrets is the fourth in the Joe DeMarco series, which is rapidly becoming a favorite for me.” —Maddy Van Hertbruggen,

A fantastic tale filled with twists and spins that seem plausible … A consistently great series.” —Harriet Klausner, The Midwest Book Review

“Despite his many flaws, DeMarco is a sympathetic character with a self-deprecating sense of humor. This leads to some snappy dialogue … Lawson give his readers a clever plot … and maintains suspense.” —Dick Saxe, Mystery News

“The kind of whodunit thriller you can’t stop thinking about while you’re reading and can’t stop talking about once you’re done. Smart, original, crafted with true insider knowledge, brimming with vivid characters, and a forward drive that just won’t quit. . . . I couldn’t put it down.” —Vince Flynn on The Inside Ring

“[Lawson is] on his game from the first chapter. As a fixer, De Marco has seen his share of corruption and the secrets of the movers and shakers, done his business in the shabby corridors of power. Given questionable evidence, De Marco is inclined to err on the side of caution, but Lawson never lets his protagonist off that easy, forcing him to make tough choices and face down personal demons. As Joe works his inside sources, the reader gets a bird’s-eye view of the Washington machinations he thrives on: leverage, an exchange of favors, the shifting layers of loyalty and opportunity. This thriller is no exception, another solid chronicle of the vagaries of Washington politics and the promises of elected leaders with feet of clay.” —Luan Gaines, Curled Up With a Good Book

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Product Details

Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
Joe DeMarco Series, #4
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.10(d)

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House Secrets (Joe DeMarco Series #4) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
BerkeleyBob More than 1 year ago
I have read three of the four Joe DeMarco political thrillers. The newest, House Secrets, is an improvement (one of the two earlier efforts had a very implausible villain and was set in the Pacific Northwest and just didn't work for me). Joe's boss, the fictional Speaker of the House vaguely resembles Tip O'Neill. Lawson lets his political sympathies show--all the real-life politicians mentioned as subjects of scandal happen to be Democrats, but there is good suspense and the plot has some plausibility. There's a surprise in store at the end, which I won't spoil, but will leave you scratching your head. A fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I always look forward to these books by Mike Lawson. It is difficult to stop reading. He knows his subject, Washington D.C. and brings in other localities as well. Books stores should promote these books more than they do. It wasn't in my Barnes & Noble the week it came out so they had to order it for me. GREAT WRITING. KEEP THEM COMING!
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
What a romp it is to read a Joe DeMarco story by Mike Lawson! They're comic, caustic, and chilling. His characters are described so originally that one either shivers or smiles. For instance, describing the overweight cigar chomping Speaker of the House John Fitzpatrick Mahoney poolside in swim trunks and a Hawaiian shirt, Lawson writes, "DeMarco thought he looked like a beluga whale that had crashed a luau." With House Secrets, the fourth in Lawson's Washington based thrillers, DeMarco has been summoned to look into the apparent drowning death of retired congressman Dick Finley's son. Finley claims his newspaper reporter son had leads on one of the hottest stories to hit the Capitol; police believe the newsman died while on a drunken kayak spin in the wee hours. Mahoney simply wanted DeMarco "to turn over a few rocks and see what crawls out." All DeMarco has to begin with is a torn piece of napkin covered with names and dates which was found in the reporter's wallet. After expending time and energy DeMarco thinks all the late newsman had wasn't hot at all but really very cold known news about New York Senator Paul Morelli, the great hope of the Democrats who has a spotless record and seems to be on a fast track to the White House. What Morelli does not have is a supportive wife. Lydia contacts DeMarco accusing her husband of the vilest acts, possibly even murder. But, everyone knows Lydia drinks to excess and drunks don't tell the truth or do they? What started out as looking under a few rocks has left DeMarco trying to discover what is truth and what is not as at the same time he finds himself at odds with Washington bigwigs, the CIA, and mobsters who don't appear to want to take prisoners. This is Lawson's best yet - a wild ride through Washington. - Gail Cooke
MKO More than 1 year ago
For fans of Mike Lawson's everyman hero Joe DeMarco, curling up with his latest political thriller, HOUSE SECRETS, is like slipping into a favorite pair of old sneakers. Only they'd better tied on tight because Joe quickly finds himself in trouble after the alcoholic wife of charismatic presidential contender Senator Paul Morelli is killed and the senator wounded in a botched burglary. Suddenly, earlier confidences shared by the inebriated wife don't seem quite so far-fetched to Joe, and as he looks into her death he finds himself at odds with powerful forces in and out of the government, without a clue as to what to do or whom to trust. One of the most likeable protagonists in recent memory, Joe works for Speaker of the House John Fitzpatrick Mahoney, doing whatever off-the-books tasks the irascible Mahoney needs done. To help him are familiar allies, the enigmatic retired spy Emma and her unsavory hacker associate Neil, an ingenious sleuth with no conscience and an uncanny ability to unravel even the most arcane shards of information. Neither disappoints. Lawson has a delicious mind and a delightfully witty writing style. His books are full of memorable characters and are laced with a wry kind of humor most welcome in this or any other genre. But it's Joe that we root for, and at the end of the day it is nice to know that our guy is still on the job, doing what he can to make the world a better place. I can't wait until the next Joe DeMarco thriller hits the stands. Great entertainment, one with an incredibly sweet, utterly huggable hero. I really, really love Joe DeMarco.
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Another page turner. Could NOT put this book down. Get a better editor--lots of mistakes that shouldn't be. The mistakes make it look a bargain basement book which it most certainly is not. I WILL be buying the next in the series. Mike Lawson, you are quite the story teller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Consistently good series with good character development and enough twists to hold your interest
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This and the other books in Mike Lawson's Joe DeMarco Series is an action packed good entertaining read. The book is written in the typical action/ spy genre is clean and moral enough I am letting my 13 year old read. Highly recommended
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This one will keep you guessing.
ALM40 More than 1 year ago
I have read all 6 of the Joe DeMarco series. My only regret is that there are no more to read. They're a fast read and every one on them held my interest. I hope in the future Mike Lawson will give us more of Joe DeMarco.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As always, I finish any of the DeMarco books in one sitting, because I find them impossible to put down. I do miss the humor that was employed in the first two, but it is still a very fine read.
GailBHappy More than 1 year ago
Great easy reading. Good character development. Believable current event plot-lines.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Continuing the fascinating saga of Joe De Marco and his boss and friends, Lawson weaves a truly intriguing tale with an ending that will knock your socks off. Probably one of the most creative endings I've ever read, and I've read many.
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