Thursday, July 5, 2012

HOUSE BLOOD - Mike Lawson

My review of Mike Lawson's HOUSE BLOOD appeared in Shelf Awareness on June 29th and I am reprinting it  here with their permission.

First line: "Kelly and Nelson began by reviewing Brian Kincaid's phone records and credit card statements and immediately saw the pattern - a pattern that had not changed in over a year."

What Representative Mahoney’s wife wants she gets: someone to investigate Brian Kincaid’s imprisonment. Kincaid’s mother is a friend of Mahoney’s wife; rather than deal with his wife, Mahoney assigns Joe DeMarco to look into the situation. DeMarco is none too thrilled about the assignment but figures it will be a simple case of checking a few details and confirming Kincaid did commit murder. Instead DeMarco stumbles into an elaborate, deadly and illegal scheme concocted by a pharmaceutical mogul in order to fast track a revolutionary new drug through the testing process and make him the wealthiest man alive.

Mike Lawson’s seventh novel featuring Capitol Hill investigator Joe DeMarco exhibits sharp dialogue, a timely, multi-layered plot and well-crafted characters. Lawson’s extensive knowledge of the pharmaceutical drug industry enhances the plausibility of the characters and their actions, whether for good or evil. Rarely do the characters stand at one extreme or the other. Instead they balance in the middle and grapple with aspects of both ends. The one emotion readers will struggle to experience with Lawson’s characters is apathy.

Lawson challenges readers with the same dilemmas the drug industry faces every day. The fine line between ethical and legal is often hard to discern, and when one’s directly affected, it becomes even more difficult. Lawson carefully illustrates that burden through the various plot layers.

House Blood, while part of a series, easily functions as a stand-alone novel. Some minor references to previous books worm their way in, but they aren’t such that the new reader will feel disadvantaged. House Blood is the perfect introduction to or revisit of the exciting world of Joe DeMarco.

House Blood is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9780802119940) from Atlantic Monthly Press.

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