House Rules

Mike Lawson, Author . Atlantic Monthly $22 (373p) ISBN 978-0-87113-983-2

At the start of Lawson's snappy third thriller starring congressional snoop Joe DeMarco (after The Second Perimeter ), a series of three failed attempts by Muslim terrorists to attack Washington, D.C.—one by plane, one by car, one by lone suicide bomber—causes nationwide panic. DeMarco wades into the mess when his boss, House Speaker John Mahoney, asks him to check out the possibility that the terrorist onslaught may have been more homegrown than it appears. Quickly appearing on DeMarco's radar is a suspicious, high-profile piece of anti-Islamic legislation, pushed by the blowhard junior senator from Virginia, that's on the fast track for approval. While the efficient plot takes some predictable turns, Lawson's engaging characters, with DeMarco leading the pack, come across as seriously flawed individuals trying to navigate a political world of high demands and constant distractions. Full of insider information, this novel reinforces Lawson's place in the upper rank of Washington thriller specialists. (June)

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