I can't think of another thriller writer who has come close to equaling the quality output of Brian Haig, a retired colonel and son of famed Gen. Alexander Haig. He writes military thrillers in the vein of Nelson DeMille, but in the time it's taken for DeMille to put out one novel, Haig has delivered four terrific books.
To put this achievement in context: Dean Koontz has put out a boatload of books lately, but they're of varying merit, and Stephen King has always been erratic, sometimes churning out books within weeks of one another. But even at their best, neither of these superstars ever produced four exemplary novels in just over two years.
Haig's maverick hero, Army JAG lawyer Sean Drummond, gets farmed out to a high-priced Washington law firm in an Army exchange program that most would line up for, but which he considers punishment duty.
When his minder at the firm of Cupler, Hutch and Westin tells him the layers of management looking over his shoulder is just like in the military, Drummond grouses, "That's the way civilians think the military works and not at all how it really works. Nobody butts into my business, as long as I don't give them cause. In fact, I was weeping with nostalgia."
But as usual when Gen. Clapper sends Drummond somewhere against his will, it's because something nefarious is going on that the general thinks requires Drummond's special blend of talents and attitude. That is, a skilled criminal lawyer with good investigative skills who once was a top-secret special operations warrior and doesn't give a rip whose toes he steps on.
Drummond quickly warms to his assignment, however, when Lisa Morrow, the only lawyer on the JAG corps who could regularly clean his clock is brutally murdered.
Lisa had been Drummond's predecessor at the law firm, and staying there gives Sean a perfect way to stay involved in the investigation. He is soon teamed with Lisa's sister, Janet, a tough Boston assistant district attorney.
The sex killings of two other professional women - an SEC official and a prominent newswoman - have the FBI and the media convinced that a kinky serial killer is on the prowl. Drummond isn't so sure. He wonders if something Lisa uncovered at work may have led to her murder.
The firm's biggest client is a Microsoft-like software company bidding for a huge defense contract. And the more Drummond looks into an audit he is supposed to be supervising of the company, the more he thinks something is up.
His antennae really perk up when the company starts throwing offers of huge sums of money his way to join them.
Drummond is a vastly entertaining narrator, with a personality and style of wit that is a cross between Philip Marlowe and Dirty Harry - which also applies to his sense and methods of justice.
The supporting cast plays off him very well, particularly an odious security chief at the law firm, Sean's weasily supervisor, a tough Army cop with a personality even gruffer than Drummond's. There also is Janet's former fiancee, now the FBI agent in charge of the murders, who hates Drummond at first sight out of jealousy, and the feeling is mutual.
"Private Sector" shows that Haig is just hitting his stride. This is one of his best books - suspenseful, intelligent and action packed. I can't give away any more of the plot, just think "The Firm," with a serial killer, spies, more action and better writing.
This should be Haig's breakout book that launches him onto the best-seller lists. But if not and he keeps on writing great stuff at this pace, the audience is sure to catch up with him sooner or later.