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House Divided: A Joe DeMarco Thriller by…
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House Divided: A Joe DeMarco Thriller

by Mike Lawson

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I picked up House Divided for the What's in a Name V Reading Challenge and the Chunkster Challenge 5. It was nice to read a straight political mystery with no treasure hunt or spies involved. It is the first book that I have read by Mike Lawson and I was impressed. I will definately be reading the other books in this series. House Divided is the 6th book in the series and there is a new book out but I can't remember the title as I am writing this review.

Here is the plot summary from the author's website:

"When the National Security Agency is caught wiretapping U.S. citizens without the proper warrants in 2005, a political scandal erupts and the secret program comes to a screeching halt. But Dillon Crane, the NSA genius who spearheaded the most sophisticated eavesdropping operation in history, isn’t about to sit idly by while spineless politicians sleepwalk the country into another 9/11 — and Crane cleverly moves his illegal eavesdropping program into the shadow.

But operating in the shadows can cause complications. When the NSA illegally records what appears to be a rogue military group killing two American citizens, Crane can’t simply walk over to the Pentagon and ask what’s going on — and before long, the largest intelligence agency in the country is locked into a deadly battle with a four-star army general who is just as capable and just as committed as Dillon Crane.

Caught in the middle of all this is Joe DeMarco. One of the civilians killed was his cousin, and all DeMarco’s trying to do is bury the poor guy and settle his estate — but DeMarco soon finds himself being used a sacrificial pawn in a lethal game between a master spy and a powerful general. Although a man with many flaws, DeMarco ultimately decides that he’s not going to be anyone’s pawn, no matter how powerful his opponents may be."

As I wrote above, I loved this book. The pace was fast and the characters were realistic, given my 25 years working in government. The main character, Joe DeMarco, takes a back seat in this installment of the series so I am anxious to read the earlier books in order to get a feel for how Lawson writes about the DeMarco character. I can attest to the accuracy of the intergovernmental relations as they are portrayed here. This was an exciting read and I am thrilled to find an author who writes a straight political thriller ( )
  Violette62 | Oct 9, 2012 |
A rogue division of the NSA illegally records a trained group with military equipment killing two U.S. citizens in D.C. in the middle of the night and flubbing the clean-up. Because the monitoring and recording was illegal, they can't openly investigate to find out what happened. Meanwhile, powers at the Pentagon who orchestrated the murders are trying to misdirect anyone who might investigate, including the police and FBI.

In House Justice, Joe DeMarco is pretty much a pawn for the story to demonstrate just how much "big brother" can spy on anyone and how little power the government has to regulate its agencies. In both the Pentagon and the NSA good people are duped into committing crimes from spying to murder and are non the wiser afterwards. Military personnel believe they are eliminating threats to national security when they are really killing regular people who know too much. Office personnel monitor communications between U.S. citizens, even after FISA laws are enacted to prevent it.

The book skims the surface of what could be happening right now with tremendous technical power in the wrong hands. Everyone believes they are doing what's right for the country, so they are willing to make morally ambiguous or morally wrong choices "for the greater good." The book is not super compelling. The characters don't have real depth. If somebody demonstrated time and again that they could see and hear what I was doing, I would be seriously paranoid. But DeMarco seems to take it in stride and keep coming up with plans for escape. If he was part of the "spy" world, that would have been more believable. But he is a "fixer" for a government official and has nothing to do with high-tech satellite surveillance. ( )
  bohemiangirl35 | Jan 16, 2012 |
This is an effervescent tale, featuring the author's recurrent hero, Joe DeMarco. It is a totally cynical story that capitalizes on the rightful paranoia over government intrusions into citizens' privacy. The National Security Council contains a rogue group that monitors domestic communications. Through a series of plot developments, this hidden module becomes involved in a power struggle with a similarly rogue element at the Pentagon. DeMarco is inadvertantly caught inbetween. As a catalogue of potential spying toys and the story of two powerful government agencies jousting, it is quite enjoyable...almost like a game. People die, but the violence is not viscerally communicated: it's all part of the contest. There are no heroes; everyone is extremely competent, intelligent, and corrupt. The major flaw is a lack of depth. The author creates a fizzy "Spy v. Spy" game, but doesn't probe beneath the surface as to what these rogue agencies really represent. DeMarco, the putative hero, is the "fixer" for the Speaker of the House, and this element is also passed over with no comment or context. ( )
  neddludd | Nov 30, 2011 |
An extra-legal NSA division overhears men with military equipment in the process of killing two people. Joe DeMarco, temporarily at leisure because his boss is in the hospital, is drawn in because one of the victims is his cousin. Soon a vast game of cat-and-mouse is playing out in and around Washington, as DeMarco learns just how closely the NSA can surveil the American public. ( )
  readinggeek451 | Jul 11, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802119786, Hardcover)

With his series featuring Joe DeMarco, fixer for Speaker of the House, Mike Lawson has won a reputation as one of America’s best political thriller writers. In House Divided, with his boss out of commission, DeMarco is on his own, a sacrificial pawn in a lethal game between a master spy and a four-star army general.

When the NSA was caught wiretapping U.S. citizens without warrants, a scandal erupted and the program came to a screeching halt. But the man who spearheaded the most sophisticated eavesdropping operation in history wasn’t about to sit by while his country sleepwalked into another 9/11. Instead, he moved the program into the shadows. So when the NSA records a rogue military group murdering two American civilians, they can’t exactly walk over to the Pentagon and demand to know what’s going on. That doesn’t mean their hands are tied, however. As the largest intelligence service in the country, both in money and manpower, they have plenty of options— mostly illegitimate.

DeMarco learns all too well just what the NSA is capable of, but he doesn’t like being used, so he fights back. House Divided is inspired and compelling, a strong addition to this celebrated series.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:45 -0400)

When the NSA records the murder of two American civilians while conducting illegal wiretapping operations, political fixer Joe DeMarco finds himself rendered a pawn in a lethal game between a master spy and a four-star army general.

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