Seattle author Mike Lawson, writing under the name of M.A. Lawson, tells a story ripped from today’s headlines about government upheaval in his new book “K Street.” Lawson will read and sign at several locations in the Seattle area.

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“K Street”

by M.A. Lawson

Blue Rider Press, 304 pp., $27

It’s on everybody’s mind these days: The shadowy world of national security. Leaks of sensitive and possibly explosive information. A baffling array of government agencies fighting — or not fighting — the good fight. And sometimes fighting with each other.

Such stuff is meat and potatoes for Seattle thriller writer M.A. Lawson.

Lawson was for decades a civilian nuclear engineer for the Navy, an experience that lent insight into navigating the murky waters of D.C. intrigue. He now puts this knowledge to good use via a pair of outstanding series.

Author appearance

M.A. Lawson

Author appearances:

Mike Lawson will read from and/or sign “K Street” at these area locations:

•He will sign books at noon Sat. Jan. 21 with author Ingrid Thoft at Seattle Mystery Bookshop (seattlemystery.com)

•At 7 p.m. Thursday Jan. 26 at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park (thirdplacebooks.com)

•At 3 p.m. Saturday Jan. 28 at Magnolia’s Bookstore (magnoliasbookstore.com/)

•At 7 p.m. Thursday Feb. 2 at Seattle’s University Book Store (ubookstore.com).

The author — writing as Mike Lawson — is best known for books about Joe DeMarco, a lawyer-in-name-only whose real gig is discreetly cleaning up messy situations for a colorful, larger-than-life congressman.

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The DeMarco books have serious-minded elements, but they also convey the author’s wry sense of humor about the craziness of politics. Lawson’s other series, about ex-DEA agent Kay Hamilton, is overall more somber. The third installment in Hamilton’s story is “K Street.”

Brainy and fearless — albeit with some grave anger management issues — Hamilton has been working for an enigmatic intelligence-gathering company called the Callahan Group. But she has grown increasingly dubious about the ethics of Callahan’s clients.

When she stops at the Callahan office to tender her resignation, she finds trouble: a team of robbers wrenching the company safe from its wall. The heisters get away with their target, but not before leaving behind several bodies and the company’s gravely injured boss.

There was little cash in the safe — something else was obviously the focus. Who were the robbers? What did they want? And why they were willing to commit murder to get it?

Finding the answers to these questions first requires that Hamilton borrow a firearm from the nice retired lady downstairs. (The nice lady retired from the Secret Service.)

Hamilton, following a clue provided by her injured boss, then tracks down a National Security Agency employee who reluctantly agrees to help. Further investigation puts Hamilton on a collision course with, among other nasty elements, some Chinese government agents.

Beyond her relentless pursuit of bad guys, there’s not much to Hamilton’s life; she does, however, have a wealthy boyfriend and a now college-age daughter. Both were prominent earlier in the series, but here the daughter is completely offstage and the lover is barely seen.

This is unfortunate, since it leaves Hamilton out there to support the book virtually by herself. The situation doesn’t offer readers many new insights into Hamilton’s past or deepen our understanding of her personality. And the supporting characters who do appear never feel fully realized. Nonetheless, “K Street” is swift and sure-footed, and Hamilton remains quite strong enough to carry the day.