Private Sector
Brian Haig
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Private Sector
Brian Haig
Grand Central Publishing
528 pages
August 2004
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Relatively new to the mystery novel scene, Brian Haig stands out against a crowded field. His lighthearted style gives his leading character panache -- he's a self-deprecating guy, yet nobody's fool.

Army Attorney Sean Drummond takes part in an exchange program between the military and the private sector, where he is assigned to a high-end firm in Washington, DC. As a fledgling member of the prestigious firm, Drummond clearly establishes himself as a bad boy who's not too concerned with keeping this assignment. He has no love for such an arrogant group of lawyers who cater to the most successful and elite of Washington businessmen. Sean disdains these smooth talkers with their extravagant lifestyles and has no intention of fitting into this elite niche.

While cavorting through his days in designer suits and driving a new-model dark green Jaguar (provided by the firm to upgrade his image), Sean is baffled by the aura of menace that surfaces as soon as he asks questions about his predecessor, a young woman recently found murdered. Naturally inquisitive, Drummond is especially interested since he once dated the young woman. Any attempt on his part to uncover her activities at the firm before her death is met with a wall of silence, which, of course, only piques Sean's curiosity.

Not one to be easily thwarted, Drummond continues his pursuit of inside information, enlisting the aid of a local DC cop and the deceased woman's sister, Janet, who works in the District Attorney's office. The more Sean learns, the more convoluted the motive for the murder appears. But when more young women are killed in a similar fashion but with progressively more violence, the police request help from the FBI, assuming they are dealing with a serial killer. There is far more afoot than serial murders; Sean and Janet delve deeper than is appropriate in the circumstances, and their actions put them both in jeopardy.

Private Sector offers a volatile mix of sociopathic assassins, CIA operatives and FBI investigators -- a veritable stew of possibilities. A master of bluff and bravado, Haig's Sean Drummond is a most sympathetic character, the kind of guy who is easy to like even with his imperfections. No matter how dangerous the situation, Drummond stubbornly pursues the motive and the murderer, as well as other activities that may affect ongoing investigations. Add a convoluted plot with international criminal overtones and the infamous inter-agency conflicts between the CIA and the FBI and you have an outstanding mystery novel by a talented author who knows how to write. Haig has a bright future ahead with his fresh voice and penchant for innovative plots. He'd better start buying those designer suits.

© 2003 by Luan Gaines for Curled Up With a Good Book

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