House Divided NPR coverage of House Divided: A Joe DeMarco Thriller by Mike Lawson. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
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House Divided

A Joe DeMarco Thriller

by Mike Lawson

Hardcover, 345 pages, Atlantic Monthly Press, List Price: $23 |


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A Joe DeMarco Thriller
Mike Lawson

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Book Summary

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. By the author of the award-nominated House Justice.

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The Iwo Jima Memorial, on the Virginia side of the Potomac River overlooking Washington, D.C., is one of many capital landmarks that do double duty as crime scenes in the novels of author Mike Lawson. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

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Dark Doings Among The D.C. Monuments

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: House Divided


A satellite orbits a blue planet, huge solar panels extended like wings.

Alpha, do you have Carrier?

Negative. Monument blocking.

Bravo, do you have Carrier?

Roger that. I have him clear.

Very well. Stand by.

Nothing more was recorded for eight minutes and forty-eight seconds. Time was irrelevant to the machines.

I think Messenger has arrived. Stand by.

Confirmed. It's Messenger. Messenger is approaching Carrier. Alpha, do you have Messenger?

Roger that.

Bravo, do you still have Carrier?

Roger that.

Very well. Stand by. Transport, move into position.

Four point three seconds of silence followed.

Transport. Acknowledge.

A second later:

Transport. Acknowledge.

Four point nine seconds passed.

Alpha, do you have Messenger?

Roger that.

Bravo, do you have Carrier?

Roger that.

You have my green. I repeat. You have my green.

Three heartbeats later:

Transport, Transport. Respond.

There was no response.

I'll transport in my vehicle. Maintain positions. Keep me advised.

Nothing more was recorded for six minutes and sixteen seconds.

This is Alpha. Two males approaching from the north. I have them clear.

Alpha, take no action. Do I have time to retrieve Carrier?


Very well. Stand by.

One minute and forty three seconds later:

This is Alpha. The two males have stopped. They may have sighted Carrier. They have sighted Carrier. They're approaching Carrier. I have them clear.

Alpha, take no action. Transport acknowledge.

Two point four seconds of silence.

Return to jump-off. I repeat. Return to jump-off.

After thirty-five minutes elapsed, a program dictated that the transmission was complete and the recording was compressed and sent in a single microsecond burst to a computer, where, in the space of nanoseconds, it was analyzed to determine if it met certain parameters. The computer concluded the recording did indeed meet those parameters, and at the speed of light it was routed through a fiberoptic cable and deposited in a server, where it would reside until a human being made a decision.


Jack Glazer was getting too old for this shit.

It was two in the morning, rain was drizzling down on his head because he'd forgotten to bring a hat, and he was drinking 7-Elevencoffee that had been burning in the pot for six hours before he'd poured the cup.

And there was a dead guy lying thirty yards from him.

"Has the ME been here?" he asked the kid, some newbie who'd been on the force maybe six months and looked about sixteen years old — but then all the new guys looked absurdly young to him. And naturally the kid was totally jacked up, this being the fi rst homicide he'd ever caught.

"Been and gone," the kid said. "Forensics sent one guy; he searched the vic, ID'd him from his wallet, and said he'd be back in a couple hours with his crew. They got another — "

"So who's the victim?"

"The name on his driver's license is Paul Russo. He was a nurse."

"How do you know that?" Glazer asked.

"He had a card in his wallet, some kind of nurses' association he belonged to. He also had the name of an emergency contact, some guy named — "

"Did you write down the contact's name?" Glazer asked.


"Then you can give it to me later."

"The thing is, sir, this guy has cash in his wallet and he still has his credit cards and his watch. So I don't think we got a mugging here. I'm thinking drugs. I'm thinking this guy, this nurse, was pedaling shit. You know, Oxy, Vicodin, something, and he gets popped."

"Could be," Glazer said. "But now this is really important, uh ..." Glazer squinted at the kid's name tag. "Offi cer Hale. Where's the body, Hale?"

Hale, of course, was confused by the question, because the body was clearly visible.

So Glazer clarifi ed. "Hale, is the body in the park or out of the park?"

"Oh. Well, that's kind of a tough call," Hale said. "The head's on the sidewalk but the feet are on the grass. I guess it's kinda half in and half out."

"Yeah, I think you're right. So why don't you grab his heels and pull him all the way into the park."

The kid immediately went all big-eyed on Glazer.

"I'm kidding, Hale," Glazer said, but he was thinking, Shit. Why couldn't the body have been in the park, or at least three-quarters in the park?

Paul Russo had been shot near the Iwo Jima Memorial, and the memorial was located in a park operated by the National Parks Service. This meant the park was federal property — technically, not part of Arlington County and out of Jack Glazer's jurisdiction. If the guy had been shot in the park, Glazer would have pawned the case off on the feds without hesitation. He was already dealing with three unsolved homicides and he didn't need another.

"Where are the two witnesses?" Glazer said.

"In the back of my squad car."

"Did they see anything?"

"No. They're dishwashers. They work at a Chinese restaurant over in Rosslyn and were on their way home. All they saw was a body on the ground and called it in."



Glazer walked over to look at the body: a short-haired, slimly built man in his thirties with no distinguishing features. Just your average white guy. He was wearing a tan jacket over a green polo shirt, jeans, and running shoes. He was clean and healthy-looking — except for the small, red-black hole in his left temple.

Glazer noticed there was no exit wound from the bullet. This surprised him because it made him think that if Russo had been shot at close range, which he most likely was, the shooter might have used a .22 or .25 — and that was unusual. Most folks who bought handguns these days, particularly men, didn't normally buy small-caliber weapons. Everybody wanted hand cannonsbig-bore automatics with sixteen-round magazines.

He took his fl ashlight and shined it around the area but didn't see anything — no shell casings, no footprints, no dropped business cards from Murder, Inc. He looked again at the position of the body. Just like Hale had said: it was almost exactly half on the sidewalk — which Glazer was positive belonged to Arlington County — and half inside

the park. Goddammit. It was going to be a real tussle to get the feds to take the case.

"Hi there."

Glazer turned. A man was walking toward him, a handsome dark-haired guy in his early forties dressed in a blue suit, white shirt, no tie, holding an umbrella over his head.

"Sir, this is a crime scene," Glazer said. "Get back behind the tape." Glazer glared over at Hale, wondering why the damn rookie had let a civilian into the area. Then he found out.

The guy took a badge case out of the inside pocket of his suit coat and flipped it open. "Hopper, FBI," he said. "I think this one's ours." He smiled at Glazer then, and he had a great smile — charming, disarming, all these even white teeth just gleaming in the dark. "I mean, I'd love to let you have it," he said, "but my boss says we gotta take this one."

What the hell?

"How did you know about the victim?" Glazer said.

"Beats me," Hopper said. "They just told me to get my ass over here. One of our guys must have picked it up on the scanner and heard you folks talking about it. I don't know. What difference does it make?"

The difference it made was that there was no way an FBI agent would have hustled over here at two in the morning to take over the case. Maybe when it was daylight, but not at two a.m. — and not for an apparent nobody like Paul Russo. And this agent. He wasn't some low-level Louie; Glazer could tell just by looking at him. This guy had weight.

"The body's on the sidewalk," Glazer said. "My sidewalk."

Hopper looked down at the body. "It's half on the sidewalk. And the rule is — "

"Rule? What fuckin' rule?"

"The rule is like football. Wherever the runner's knee goes down is where they spot the ball. His knee went down in the park."

"I've never heard of any — "

"Come on, Glazer. I'm tr — "

"How do you know my name?"

Irritation flicked across Hopper's face. "They gave it to me when they called me. Probably got if off the scanner, too. Why are you giving me a hard time here? I'm doing you a favor. This is one less murder on Arlington's books. It's one less case you have to clear. You oughta be thanking me, not arguing with me."

Glazer already knew he was going to lose this fi ght — and anybody looking at the scene, not knowing a single thing about criminal jurisdictions, would know he was going to lose it, too. In one corner you had this confident six-foot-two, handsome as Mel-fucking-Gibson federal movie star. In the other corner you had Jack Glazer: five-ten, a stocky, strong-looking guy, a guy tough enough to have maybe played linebacker for a small college team but not big enough or fast enough for a big-name school. It was the neighborhood mutt squaring off against the government's Rin Tin Tin — and nobody would have put their money on the mutt.

But still — even knowing the feds were going to win this jurisdictional tug-of-war — this guy pissed him off. And something was seriously out of whack.

"Yeah, well, we'll have to settle this later, when it's daylight," Glazer said, shifting his position slightly, blocking off Hopper's path to the body. "I need to check with my boss. But for now — "

Glazer's cell phone rang. He looked at the caller ID. What the hell?

"Glazer," he said into his phone. He listened for a few seconds, said, "Yes, sir," and hung up.

Glazer looked at Hopper for a moment and then slowly nodded his head. "That was my boss. He said this is your case."

Excerpted from House Divided by Mike Lawson. Copyright 2011 by Mike Lawson. Excerpted by permission of Atlantic Monthly Press.