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House Rules

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Mike Lawson’s Joe DeMarco thrillers have drawn praise for their fine-tuned suspense, off-kilter characters, intricate plots, and revealing portrait of Washington, DC behind closed doors. In House Rules , a terrorist bombing of the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel is narrowly avoided. Then a private plane headed straight for the White House ignores warnings and is shot down. An atm Mike Lawson’s Joe DeMarco thrillers have drawn praise for their fine-tuned suspense, off-kilter characters, intricate plots, and revealing portrait of Washington, DC behind closed doors. In House Rules , a terrorist bombing of the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel is narrowly avoided. Then a private plane headed straight for the White House ignores warnings and is shot down. An atmosphere of fear and panic overruns the country, and when the junior senator from Virginia proposes to deport all non-citizen Muslims and run extensive background checks on all Muslim Americans, his bill gains surprising traction.Speaker of the House John Mahoney is not pleased. He knows it is the kind of knee-jerk response people will come to regret, like Japanese internment camps, and he needs to find a way to kill the bill before it exposes a secret he wants to keep. So Mahoney calls his man DeMarco. An average guy who struggles with debt, divorce, and an unreasonable boss, DeMarco is an unlikely hero, in over his head, relying on old friends as he attempts to get to the bottom of the attacks in this riveting read, full of suspense, fascinating characters, humor, and timely political intrigue.

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Mike Lawson’s Joe DeMarco thrillers have drawn praise for their fine-tuned suspense, off-kilter characters, intricate plots, and revealing portrait of Washington, DC behind closed doors. In House Rules , a terrorist bombing of the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel is narrowly avoided. Then a private plane headed straight for the White House ignores warnings and is shot down. An atm Mike Lawson’s Joe DeMarco thrillers have drawn praise for their fine-tuned suspense, off-kilter characters, intricate plots, and revealing portrait of Washington, DC behind closed doors. In House Rules , a terrorist bombing of the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel is narrowly avoided. Then a private plane headed straight for the White House ignores warnings and is shot down. An atmosphere of fear and panic overruns the country, and when the junior senator from Virginia proposes to deport all non-citizen Muslims and run extensive background checks on all Muslim Americans, his bill gains surprising traction.Speaker of the House John Mahoney is not pleased. He knows it is the kind of knee-jerk response people will come to regret, like Japanese internment camps, and he needs to find a way to kill the bill before it exposes a secret he wants to keep. So Mahoney calls his man DeMarco. An average guy who struggles with debt, divorce, and an unreasonable boss, DeMarco is an unlikely hero, in over his head, relying on old friends as he attempts to get to the bottom of the attacks in this riveting read, full of suspense, fascinating characters, humor, and timely political intrigue.

30 review for House Rules

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tulay

    Okay read. Bought this book because I like the author and cover got my attention. But it was hard to follow, had to go back couple of chapters and read it again. Plot is about what has been headlines these days; registering all the Muslim Americans. Senator is trying to pass this bill. And chemical or nuclear plants, how home grown terrorist can access them. From politicians to drug dealers all double crossing each other.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eric_W

    Let’s say there’s someone in Israel you want to get rid of without any suspicion you might be behind it. What better way than to wait until your target is hanging out in a local bar, flip in a bomb, and then have anyone assume it was Hamas? Or perhaps you want to become president or obtain power.. What better way to accumulate money and power than to secretly orchestrate a series of Muslim terrorist attacks and then propose extraordinary methods to eliminate the “terrorist” threat? Contrived tho Let’s say there’s someone in Israel you want to get rid of without any suspicion you might be behind it. What better way than to wait until your target is hanging out in a local bar, flip in a bomb, and then have anyone assume it was Hamas? Or perhaps you want to become president or obtain power.. What better way to accumulate money and power than to secretly orchestrate a series of Muslim terrorist attacks and then propose extraordinary methods to eliminate the “terrorist” threat? Contrived though it might be, that’s one of the plot devices in this excellent audiobook Joe DeMarco works for the Speaker of the House, John Mahoney, in a very special capacity, operating way below the radar. Mahoney wants plausible deniability for his relationship with his troubleshooter and DeMarco is often left hanging in the wind to find his own way getting things done. So why does DeMarco still work for Mahoney? Hard to put on a resume that you've never practiced law, act as a bagman for the Speaker, and have no marketable skills. His latest investigation is precipitated when the Muslim brother of Mahoney’s old friend kills his family and then climbs into his Cessna and steers for the White House. He is shot down by an F-16, but his motives remain quite obscure and that he happens to be a Muslim fuels the flames. Throw in a recently elected Senator who wants all Muslims thrown out of the country and a real Muslim terrorist who wants to blow up a chemical factory that makes hydrofluoric acid and you have a mess. A political thriller par excellence, with some really caustic wit about Washington. An excellent audiobook.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Pierre Tassé

    I found this book entertaining and relevant especially given the political agenda in 2017 in the USA. The book delves into Islamophobia and a few other stereotypical norms that you would expect given the world views. No, this book doesn't go into philosophy or deals with truth versus fiction...it leaves that up to you. It is unfortunate that the end came as quick as it did without allowing the reader (me in this instance) time to absorb all that had happened and draw conclusions based on the info I found this book entertaining and relevant especially given the political agenda in 2017 in the USA. The book delves into Islamophobia and a few other stereotypical norms that you would expect given the world views. No, this book doesn't go into philosophy or deals with truth versus fiction...it leaves that up to you. It is unfortunate that the end came as quick as it did without allowing the reader (me in this instance) time to absorb all that had happened and draw conclusions based on the information Lawson provided. Pity. (this was written during my progress) I am finding this book so apropos given the present political climate in the USA and the discomfort around the world. I am presently about half way through and the web of events is really astounding. Right now, at this portion of the book, if you have any discomfort with Muslim American men this book seems to exacerbate it -or at least try and play on a potential Islamophobic flame beginning to burn inside us." ------ One day though (maybe I missed it), I would like to read the adventures of Emma. Now there is an interesting character. Yes, folks, if you have time, read the book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    RATING: 4.25 After the horrific events of 9/11, many Americans became very distrustful of people of different ethnicities. Several groups and politicians capitalized on these suspicions to further their own agendas. Among them is Senator William Broderick, who has authored an extreme anti-Muslim bill. Among its provisions is a plan to mass deport all non-citizen Muslims and a proposal that background checks be performed on all Muslim Americans. Supposedly, these background checks would reveal if RATING: 4.25 After the horrific events of 9/11, many Americans became very distrustful of people of different ethnicities. Several groups and politicians capitalized on these suspicions to further their own agendas. Among them is Senator William Broderick, who has authored an extreme anti-Muslim bill. Among its provisions is a plan to mass deport all non-citizen Muslims and a proposal that background checks be performed on all Muslim Americans. Supposedly, these background checks would reveal if a Muslim belonged to a radical group or supported radical causes. Although many people rightfully object to the trampling of these Americans' civil liberties, others support the bill wholeheartedly. And after a series of terrorist acts committed by several Muslim Americans, it appears that the bill will easily be passed. Speaker of the House John Mahoney is one person who believes that Broderick's bill is completely unacceptable. One of the so-called terrorist acts was committed by the son of a close friend of his. Reza Zarif has killed his wife and children and tried to fly a plane into the White House. Of course, he was gunned down before that could happen. The action is so completely out of character that Mahoney asks his aide to look into it. Joe DeMarco is hidden deep within the government bureaucracy; in spite of a fancy title, his real job is to do whatever Mahoney needs—whether that be investigating something , digging up dirt on enemies, or collecting bribes—without worrying about the niceties of laws and ethics. As DeMarco proceeds, not very successfully, he finds that all of the "terrorist" acts appear to have been committed by people who didn't have any overriding political agenda or motivation to sacrifice themselves for the terrorist cause. He's convinced that each of these people was forced to participate in the attacks because of threats made to those they loved. How else do you explain an ordinary cab driver strapping packs of C-4 explosive to his chest and trying to enter the Capitol, a lazy security guard pulling off a heroic action only to be killed and so on? DeMarco taps into every resource he can find to prove his theory; but if it's true, the master mind has covered his tracks thoroughly. HOUSE RULES is an exciting and suspenseful book and an excellent revelation of how the game is played in our nation's capital. I liked the fact that DeMarco and cohorts weren't easily able to uncover the truth about the terrorist acts. In fact, there is another one being planned that never comes to his attention, possibly the most chilling action of them all. A radical is training a young boy to perform a suicide bombing mission of a refinery. If successful, there would be death on a huge scale. DeMarco is an imperfect human being, often resentful at what Mahoney asks him to do, but resourceful at the same time. Mahoney is a larger than life character whose drive and ambition power the book, and the villains are nicely nefarious with no need to twirl their mustaches. Lawson did a fine job of creating a relevant and topical political thriller with its Apocalyptic subject matter balanced by large dollops of sardonic humor. The denouement is exciting and believable, but ironic at the same time. In fact, I'm still chuckling at the last paragraph. I found the book to be engrossing and a refreshingly different take on the typical terrorist conspiracy novel.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Terence M

    3.5 stars out of 5 for another competent Joe DeMarco novel that I had been reading on and off for a couple of months and finished off last night (too hot to sleep!).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sandi

    An enjoyable audio thriller. I really like the characters in this series (especially House Speaker John Mahoney) and the plot seemed fairly plausible for this type of book. Listened to the audio version read by Joe Barrett.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Russ

    I liked it! I was worried that the novel would be overly political with a false-flag terrorism theme. But that was not the case. House Rules was reasonable and nuanced without taking partisan potshots and political screeds. I have not read the first two books in the series, but the story was easy to follow anyway. I liked the hero, DeMarco, and the concept of him working as a mafia-style fixer working for the Speaker of the House, who was a back-slapping, boozing, womanizing Tip O'Neill/Ted Kenne I liked it! I was worried that the novel would be overly political with a false-flag terrorism theme. But that was not the case. House Rules was reasonable and nuanced without taking partisan potshots and political screeds. I have not read the first two books in the series, but the story was easy to follow anyway. I liked the hero, DeMarco, and the concept of him working as a mafia-style fixer working for the Speaker of the House, who was a back-slapping, boozing, womanizing Tip O'Neill/Ted Kennedy style Massachusetts pol. I LOVE the fact that this book focused on Congress rather than the White House. It seems like every 9 out of 10 political thrillers involve the president as a character, which really gets boring/tedious/silly. Focusing on the speaker made for a fresh and less pretentious concept, which I really enjoyed. The supporting characters were good as well, including ball-busting DEA agent Patsy Hall, degenerate drug supplier and white supremacist Jubal Pugh, and a host of other colorful souls. As for the story, it was good, taking twists and turns. The way events unfolded kept up the suspense. I hope I get a chance to read some of the earlier or later books in the series.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Another great Lawson novel. As I read the series in order, I am learning much more about DeMarco andf his cohort. Although the series moves ahead without needing to read each book in order, it can sometimes help with character development. I found the premise of the book quite poignant; the desire to 'register' all Muslim Americans in order to sift through those who belong and those who are 'surely terroritst'. I am sure this will ring true and close to the heart for many Americans post-September Another great Lawson novel. As I read the series in order, I am learning much more about DeMarco andf his cohort. Although the series moves ahead without needing to read each book in order, it can sometimes help with character development. I found the premise of the book quite poignant; the desire to 'register' all Muslim Americans in order to sift through those who belong and those who are 'surely terroritst'. I am sure this will ring true and close to the heart for many Americans post-September 11th, but is surely not the answeer. Lawson presents arguments on both sides of the issue. While thvel clips along at a great pace, the end is quite dramatic... it all ties up in the last 45 pages quite quickly, as tgh Lawson's editor demanded a text of a certain length in a specific time. Other than that, the tangential plot in the latter part of the book, it is an excellent novel with great development.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    It takes three quarters of the story before it gains some valid traction after the murders and mayhem. By far the best part of this novel is the last quarter of it. 6 of 10 stars

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan Fox

    ‘House Rules’ is an excellent read in what I have come to understand is the Mike Lawson fast paced action packed style. And I think his writing style is funny. I enjoy his sense of humor about his characters, especially about Mahoney. Unlike the first two books in this DeMarco series I did have trouble tracking what was going on with who but it was so good It didn’t matter. There’s a couple of characters that just don’t fit into the scheme of things to me but I still like the book. I would tell ‘House Rules’ is an excellent read in what I have come to understand is the Mike Lawson fast paced action packed style. And I think his writing style is funny. I enjoy his sense of humor about his characters, especially about Mahoney. Unlike the first two books in this DeMarco series I did have trouble tracking what was going on with who but it was so good It didn’t matter. There’s a couple of characters that just don’t fit into the scheme of things to me but I still like the book. I would tell you which two characters but then you would say “Hey! That’s a spoiler, so I bet after you read it you will know who I mean! Ha! So I already bought the next DeMarco book. So, now onto ‘House Secrets.’

  11. 5 out of 5

    Judi

    The 3rd in the series about Joe DeMarco. Really enjoying these books and it gives you a look behind the scenes about what might be taking place in the Congress/Senate! If you have been folloiwng this series, you know Joe's job is working in the subbasement of the White House and no one knows who he reports to. He reports to the Speaker of the House, Mahoney. Mahoney sends him to investigate things without getting his name involved in it. When a plane is headed for the White House, our planes have t The 3rd in the series about Joe DeMarco. Really enjoying these books and it gives you a look behind the scenes about what might be taking place in the Congress/Senate! If you have been folloiwng this series, you know Joe's job is working in the subbasement of the White House and no one knows who he reports to. He reports to the Speaker of the House, Mahoney. Mahoney sends him to investigate things without getting his name involved in it. When a plane is headed for the White House, our planes have to shoot him down before he hits the capital. When Mahoney finds out that he knows the man, he sends DeMarco to find out what is going on because he knew this man wouldn't do that. Great book and really enjoy this series!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Fairweather

    Lawson hits us again with another political thriller/detective story only this time focusing on Islamaphobia post 9/11. A lot of this was stereotypical and often seemed lifted from news stories from the time period and bits of discussion from the punditocracy. Still a solid effort but my least favorite of his three books that ive read so far.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Farquar McSpadden

    This one was a mistake to begin my Thriller-Reading Career with. While the Joe DeMarco set-up is interesting and could go places, the writing is so simplistic and devoid of imagination. This is truly an example of how poorly written prose can bring down a concept. It's as though the writer could not fully put himself into the fictional landscape.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kasperian

    A story with a good pace. Not much unnecessary details. One character appears as an "Oracle", however there is a possibility that it is because I started with the #3 of DeMarco Thrillers. Definitely going to try out the books of the series.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick Oxley

    Not half as good as Jack Reacher, but quite good. Ending was very scattered.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marcia Ditter

    Like the author. Bought the book for that reason. Ok read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mjblois

    3.5 Stars

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julius Evans

    I enjoyed this book. It kept my interest from beginning to end. I'm off to 'House Justice,' but I'll finish 'Kill the Messenger,' (Nick Schou) first.

  19. 4 out of 5

    JoAnn/QuAppelle

    Joe DeMarco is a trouble shooter for the House Speaker, John Mahoney, a wheeler-dealer who has his hand on the pulse of everything in DC and seems to like to stir the proverbial pot. This thriller focuses on a suspected conspiracy to cast Muslim Americans in a bad light so as to get a bill passed that would restrict their rights. DeMarco, Mahoney, and a varied cast of clever characters slowly unravel the conspiracy, despite lots of dead ends and many of their efforts being thwarted. The character Joe DeMarco is a trouble shooter for the House Speaker, John Mahoney, a wheeler-dealer who has his hand on the pulse of everything in DC and seems to like to stir the proverbial pot. This thriller focuses on a suspected conspiracy to cast Muslim Americans in a bad light so as to get a bill passed that would restrict their rights. DeMarco, Mahoney, and a varied cast of clever characters slowly unravel the conspiracy, despite lots of dead ends and many of their efforts being thwarted. The character development was good, as was the plotting, and it kept me guessing all along with all of its twists and turns. I liked Lawson's apparent insider's look at the political process and his skepticism about Washington, which I share. Despite all the complexities in the book, I felt that some solutions were just a little too "pat" and convenient. Otherwise, I would have given it 5 stars. This was #3 in a series featuring Joe DeMarco and I picked up #1 at the library today. Looking forward to reading it!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    Joe DeMarco is a Civil Servant for the Congress...or so his pay level says. Actually he is the 'go to guy' for the Speaker of the House and the man who is expected to fix problems with minimal notice. This problem is a bit bigger than most. Muslim Americans had died while performing what appears to be acts of terrorism to the US. The Speaker wants DeMarco to find out what is going on and to stop it. He calls in chits with a number of people. The cast of protagonists is full of tough talking and Joe DeMarco is a Civil Servant for the Congress...or so his pay level says. Actually he is the 'go to guy' for the Speaker of the House and the man who is expected to fix problems with minimal notice. This problem is a bit bigger than most. Muslim Americans had died while performing what appears to be acts of terrorism to the US. The Speaker wants DeMarco to find out what is going on and to stop it. He calls in chits with a number of people. The cast of protagonists is full of tough talking and acting doers. The villains are even tougher and more vile than most. The conclusion is a little too neat for my taste, but it does solve all the problems and leave DeMarco free for his next endeavor.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Viccy

    Joe DeMarco works for the Speaker of the House, John Mahoney, except one will never find his name on any org chart. Joe is Mahoney's fixer. An attempted bombing of the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel morphs into a plane shot down while flying into the White House and, suddenly, the ambitious junior senator from Virginia is proposing a massive anti-Muslim terrorism bill. Soon, DeMarco finds himself engulfed with terrorists, corrupt politicians, the mob and hillbilly meth dealers. This is timely political Joe DeMarco works for the Speaker of the House, John Mahoney, except one will never find his name on any org chart. Joe is Mahoney's fixer. An attempted bombing of the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel morphs into a plane shot down while flying into the White House and, suddenly, the ambitious junior senator from Virginia is proposing a massive anti-Muslim terrorism bill. Soon, DeMarco finds himself engulfed with terrorists, corrupt politicians, the mob and hillbilly meth dealers. This is timely political intrigue told with a leavening of humor, full of suspense. If you like political conspiracies, this is a series with reading.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary Sieczkowski

    Interesting story with many many layers. Government officials (& unofficials), Muslim extremists, terrorists, hired assassins, etc etc. It kept my interest and had some interesting twists. DeMarco is a government UNofficial. He works for the Speaker of the House but while he is on the gov't payroll, he isn't officially working for anyone. His job is a made-up one on the books and in actuality he does whatever the Speaker wants done without the Speaker being involved. After a series of thwart Interesting story with many many layers. Government officials (& unofficials), Muslim extremists, terrorists, hired assassins, etc etc. It kept my interest and had some interesting twists. DeMarco is a government UNofficial. He works for the Speaker of the House but while he is on the gov't payroll, he isn't officially working for anyone. His job is a made-up one on the books and in actuality he does whatever the Speaker wants done without the Speaker being involved. After a series of thwarted terrorist attacks, DeMarco and others realize that something isn't right. They delve into the events and find an intricate weave of political management and true terrorist groups.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Bingham

    Another in the Joe DeMarco series. In this one, there is a series of terrorist plots seemingly foiled by luck. A hijacking is stopped by the unexpected presence of an air marshal. A suicide bombing at the capitol is stopped by a police officer who, completely contrary to his history and personality, shows incredible bravery. DeMarco is asked to try to see if he can tie the spree to a senator who is trying to get a nasty bill passed to detain all Muslims in the country. DeMarco gets to the bottom Another in the Joe DeMarco series. In this one, there is a series of terrorist plots seemingly foiled by luck. A hijacking is stopped by the unexpected presence of an air marshal. A suicide bombing at the capitol is stopped by a police officer who, completely contrary to his history and personality, shows incredible bravery. DeMarco is asked to try to see if he can tie the spree to a senator who is trying to get a nasty bill passed to detain all Muslims in the country. DeMarco gets to the bottom of it all as you might expect. However, now, three days after I finished it, I cannot remember what the outcome was. Must not have been that good.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ed Napiorkowski

    Overall not a bad story and some pretty good story telling to go with it. The majority of characters remained consistently portrayed throughout the story though a fe I felt were rather shallow and could have been stronger. The actual plot is a good one, realistically portrayed, fairly well thought out and believably executed. The ending is draw out though and to me that was the only real down side to the book. The author attempts multiple conclusions to the different aspects of the plot but in m Overall not a bad story and some pretty good story telling to go with it. The majority of characters remained consistently portrayed throughout the story though a fe I felt were rather shallow and could have been stronger. The actual plot is a good one, realistically portrayed, fairly well thought out and believably executed. The ending is draw out though and to me that was the only real down side to the book. The author attempts multiple conclusions to the different aspects of the plot but in my opinion looses it a bit.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This is the third book in the series and the third I read (for a change I started a series at the beginning rather than in the middle) and the characters are still keeping my interest. Even if this were the first book you pick up, there is enough background so that you don't feel lost about the characters. In addition to a compelling plot (Who know that life working for Congress could be so exciting!?) , the book had its humorous moments (both dark and light), and mixes in some social commentary This is the third book in the series and the third I read (for a change I started a series at the beginning rather than in the middle) and the characters are still keeping my interest. Even if this were the first book you pick up, there is enough background so that you don't feel lost about the characters. In addition to a compelling plot (Who know that life working for Congress could be so exciting!?) , the book had its humorous moments (both dark and light), and mixes in some social commentary as well. If you like David Baldacci, this series is worth a try.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    In House Rules, two foiled terrorist attacks and a law targeting Muslim Americans send Joe DeMarco on a dangerous mission among mobsters, meth dealers, and the Washington political elite. First there was the bomb meant for the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, then a private plane headed straight for the White House is shot down. An atmosphere of fear and panic overruns the country I read it and loved it and thought it was commenting on a most serious issue of the day and the knee jerk reaction of many peo In House Rules, two foiled terrorist attacks and a law targeting Muslim Americans send Joe DeMarco on a dangerous mission among mobsters, meth dealers, and the Washington political elite. First there was the bomb meant for the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, then a private plane headed straight for the White House is shot down. An atmosphere of fear and panic overruns the country I read it and loved it and thought it was commenting on a most serious issue of the day and the knee jerk reaction of many people.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Francisco

    Muslim terrorist attacks on the capitol. Drug cartel. A terrorist mastermind. At one point I was singing the “I’m just a bill,” From the old afternoon special show. What does it take to get a bill through congress? They got the story wrong in the beginning and again in the end: “… (Kahn)Had been detained by the FBI approximately a year ago for possible links to al-Qaeda and speculated that (javed Khan) may have been carrying on his father’s work.”

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    The Joe Demarco series just keeps getting better and better. What I like about the protagonist is that he's NOT always the smartest guy in the room and he's never the toughest guy in the room! But, he motors along and generally ends up ahead of the bad guys by the last chapter, just like a real person might. I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes complex plots and good character development.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    House Rules is competently written, with "good enough" characters and a rather odd plot, but one that keeps the reader moving right along. (What I think is very odd is the strange knot that ties the two major subplots together at the end. If you read the book, you probably know what I mean.) I won't rush out to find another book in the Joe DeMarco series, but then again, I'll probably pick one up if it comes my way at a reasonable price.

  30. 4 out of 5

    James B

    Terrorism becomes political. Several terror plots are foiled, or are they? They are coordinated, or are they? Is it the politician who stands to gain, or the terrorist, or someone else? The story is a good one, though some of the reactions of characters are slightly impossible, thus three stars not four.

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