Rating: 3.5 Water Towers
Following “Playing for Pizza” was a difficult task. But Mike Lawson’s “The Second Perimeter” succeeded where others failed.
“The Second Perimeter” is Lawson’s second book and is everything you could want in a Thriller…..lots of action and intrigue with a touch of humor (and he writes about the Navy….of which I am a veteran…VAW-124, Norfolk, VA). Very cool.
Joe DeMarco is a trained lawyer who is working, at the only job he could get, as a “troubleshooter” for the Speaker of the House, John Fitzgerald Mahoney. He obtained this position via Joe’s Aunt who had gotten to know Mahoney…very well. Joe has been handicapped in his pursuit of a career in in law thanks to his father who was a hit man for the Mafia. Unfortunately, Joe has not inherited Dad’s way with weapons and that lack of ability is a handicap in his current line of work. Luckily Joe’s investigative partner, Emma, is familiar with all the tools of the spy trade being an ex-DIA agent.
In “The Second Perimeter” DeMarco and Emma embark on a simple mission to Bremerton, WA to investigate a fraud allegation at the Navy shipyard. Upon questioning the complainant they assume this is nothing much to worry about, but, decide to interview a couple of ex-employees just in case.
These ex-employees are “ losers” who suddenly have money in the bank, new boats, etc. During the interview, DeMarco and Emma meet their boss, Carmody, an ex-SEAL who started the consulting firm that is developing a training course on nuclear reactors.
After the meeting, DeMarco and Emma understand that what they are investigating is something much more than fraud, and they push some buttons to see what happens.
They are rewarded with a positive indication that they are correct. The original complainant is murdered, the two losers are deep sixed, and Carmody takes off on a wild goose chase around the Western U.S.
Since Emma suspects that Carmody is moving around as a decoy she concentrates her efforts locally and the authorities stop the defection of John Washburn, an expert on submarine noise and sonar capabilities, to China.
It turns out that Carmody’s control, Li Mei, is an old nemeses of Emma’s and has terminated the efforts to gather data from the shipyard (and all the loose ends) and chosen a new tact: To kidnap Emma so the Chinese can pick her brain.
The action reaches it peak at a meeting in Vancouver as Li Mei kills several police, attempts to kill Carmody (a big mistake on her part for failing), and takes Emma hostage.
As the remainder of the book unfolds, it is largely up to DeMarco to find Emma and resolve the situation. In the end he receives help from Carmody (who is now working for the Chinese to get Li Mei, but also has other, more personal, reasons to get to Li Mei ) in a most interesting and surprising manner.
I highly recommend Mike Lawson to anyone who enjoys thrillers with a military flavor and a bit of humor (think Brian Haig). “The Inside Ring” was a great book and you should start there since it is the first in the series. A third book (“House Rules”) featuring DeMarco (and, I hope, Emma) is on the way in June 2008.
Mike tells me that purchasing the new book now from Amazon will be a better deal than waiting.