Monday, March 19, 2012

read: The Inside Ring (3 stars)

The Inside Ring (Joe DeMarco, #1)The Inside Ring by Mike Lawson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Calling this book a thriller isn't quite right. It starts off with a bang. That's for sure. The President is shot. The man next to him is killed. Did someone on the 'inside ring' of his protection detail set him up? Will there be another attempt? There are plenty of questions. The problem is that for a long time all we have are questions. What is in short supply are thrills and suspense.

We meet some interesting characters. We're treated to a tour of some Washington D.C. sites and offices. We get some hints at some odd connections. Leads turn into dead ends with more unanswered questions. We get some threats, but they seem vague and toothless. We get a lot of background on Joe Demarco, our protagonist. But for a long time it felt like the story was adrift. There was no ticking clock. I didn't feel any suspense or imminent threat. Where were the thrills? I almost gave up.

It didn't help that some of the prose feels a little wooden. Chapters start with a seemingly obligatory description of the scene. Characters are introduced with a full description of clothing, hair color, and facial features. But after that, there is a good flow of narrative and dialog. I stuck with the book because it's an easy read and the mysteries are oddly interesting.

The last third of the book finally earns the thriller designation. Demarco starts getting some answers, starts getting his butt kicked, and starts fighting back. The reader gets their thrills. I look forward to reading more about the adventures of Joe Demarco, but I hope they are a bit more uniformly thrilling.

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