cover image House Rivals

House Rivals

Mike Lawson. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2360-2

In the prologue of Lawson’s workmanlike 10th Joe DeMarco thriller (after 2014’s House Reckoning), three men assault Sarah Johnson, a muckraking blogger who’s trying to expose corruption in Montana and North and South Dakota, late one night behind a restaurant. One of her attackers delivers a chilling warning—next time “we’ll tie you naked to a tree and leave you for the wolves”—before letting her go. Wealthy Leonard Curtis, an independent natural gas driller, has set his dogs on Sarah: a pair of down-market fixers, Marjorie Dawkins and Bill Logan, who hired the assailants. Sarah’s grandfather calls on an old friend for help, House Minority Leader John Fitzpatrick Mahoney, who’s DeMarco’s employer and “as corrupt as any congressman on Capitol Hill.” Sent west to deal with the problem, DeMarco comes to admire Sarah’s resolve and crusade. This is a decent, though familiar, story—the individual pitted against big business and the state—and Lawson spells out every plot point and emotion along the way. Agent: David Gernert, Gernert Company. (July)