Review

The Kingmaker

by Brian Haig



When you're the son of a famous man, you more often than not spend
half of your time explaining who you are and half of your time
explaining who you aren't. If you're smart and capable, you go into
a field totally different from the one where ol' Pop made his
bones. Accordingly, if you have a father named Alexander who has
had the ear of presidents, been a consultant and is a television
news correspondent, you do anything other than that. Brian Haig
played it smart. He became a novelist.

Haig made his literary debut a couple of years ago with MORTAL
ALLIES, in which he introduced Sean Drummond to the world. Drummond
is a member of the JAG Corps --- an attorney who belongs to the
largest legal firm in the world, that of the U.S. Army. Drummond is
an overconfident, irredeemable wiseass with a penchant for being
assigned seemingly impossible cases and somehow pulling the fat out
of the fire. Drummond was also a part of a super-secret division
within the Army that did a lot of dirty wet work and, when he
became too banged-up to continue with that mission, he became an
attorney. It turned out that his training in killing people and
blowing things up continues to hold him in good stead with the
practice of law, as he is always getting into jams. SECRET SANCTION
followed MORTAL ALLIES and Drummond continued to grow and become
further defined as a character. However, with THE KINGMAKER,
Drummond and Haig truly join the 'A' List of suspense
novelists.

THE KINGMAKER is much more complex, plotwise, than either of its
predecessors. Drummond is called upon to defend Brigadier General
William Morrison against a laundry list of charges ranging from
treason to adultery. Drummond and Morrison have a bit of a history.
Drummond and Morrison were involved in a covert mission together
several years prior. More significantly, however, Morrison's wife,
Mary, used to have a relationship with Drummond and, as they say,
where there once was a flame there may still be a flicker. Drummond
absolutely cannot stand Morrison, which serves as an interesting
and subtle plot vehicle. Although Drummond is predisposed to
accepting Morrison's guilt, he tenaciously attempts to prove him
innocent. It's not that Drummond is all that enamored with the
legal system, the rights of the defendant, or the presumption of
innocence --- he just hates to lose. Drummond does not mind telling
us this, nor does he mind describing his exotic co-counsel, Katrina
Mazourski, every chance he gets.

What makes THE KINGMAKER such a winner, however, is that Haig
combines elements of Robert B. Parker and Robert Ludlum to create a
richly complex and enjoyable plot that is impossible to
second-guess. Morrison is accused of causing major damage to
American foreign policy efforts and had the access to enough highly
classified information to do exactly that. His wife, meanwhile, is
a CIA executive who was no doubt privy to similar information.
Morrison also has a penchant for exaggeration, which makes it
doubly difficult for Drummond to successfully craft a defense for
him. What Drummond eventually uncovers is that a conspiracy has
influenced Russian governments for decades and possibly extended
its influence into the White House during the 1990s. And while
Haig, through Drummond, speaks with the voice of a wiseass, this is
highbrow stuff. Some of the incidents described within THE
KINGMAKER, particularly the intrigue surrounding the proposed
Georgian gas pipelines in 1995, actually took place. One wonders
how much of THE KINGMAKER is fiction and how much is fact described
as fantasy.

Haig really hits his stride with THE KINGMAKER, continuing to
develop an already interesting character and displaying a mastery
of plot that many more experienced authors will undoubtedly envy.
Future Drummond novels will certainly be anticipated on Haig's own
merits and reputation, rather than on the fame of his relatives.
Recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

The Kingmaker
by Brian Haig

  • Publication Date: January 9, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books
  • ISBN-10: 0446530557
  • ISBN-13: 9780446530552