The Inside Ring
Mike Lawson’s debut thriller in the Joe DeMarco series, The Inside Ring, is a less-than-coherent thriller. Its stakes zig-zag from high to low to nonsenscially high again at the last second. The cast seems to consist entirely of either slobby white ethnic greasers (including the main character, who is one of the least likable thriller protagonists I’ve seen in recent memory) or slobbier rednecks.
I’ll put it this way. How bad do your rural southerners have to be for a New Yorker like me to go “you’re going way too far here. Ugh”? They’re that bad. The plot is ridiculous, with the villain wanting to do something that would make him far more of a target than if he just did the “conventional” easy thing. Then comes a stereotypical conspiracy to make it even dumber.
While not the worst I’ve read, the literary fundamentals aren’t nearly good enough to salvage this novel. There are better individual thrillers out there, and if nothing else, the series started off on a bad note.