A Book Review of 'The Hunted' - Fiction based on hard-to-believe reality
Political thrillers are a dime a dozen. There is no end to the writers out there trying to author the next "Hunt for Red October" or "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." Few have the resume or bloodline to write as insightfully as the author of "The Hunted," Brian Haig.
Does that name sound familiar? It should if you are an American older than thirty-five. Another Haig was once the White House Chief of Staff for Richard Nixon, Secretary of State for Ronald Reagan, and a four-star General who was once the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. Such a name would surely open doors to publishers for a would-be storyteller, and no doubt it helped this author get a nibble on his first manuscript. But in the ocean of unsolicited material, the first nibble will only get you so far. To hook a publisher or agent, at some point, you actually have to be able to deliver the goods. Brian Haig does.
For the purpose of full disclosure, I will admit I've read everything this Haig has published, eight novels to date. I've read them all for two reasons. One, I can't help but wonder how much of his research was helped along by his late father who wasn't just a student of recent American history, but virtually lived it. Two, this Haig was a classmate of my husband's at West Point in 1975. That's a loose link, but a link still. I make a habit of reading all the New York Times Bestseller authors I have met in person. Counting Brian, that number comes to - one.
As a would-be storyteller myself, it was easy to assume Haig's first book got published simply because of his name. Knowing from years of personal experience that it is easier to find the Holy Grail than to find a publisher or agent when you are an unpublished author, I'll admit I felt a twinge of resentment at the "leg-up" this novice author had on the rest of us struggling writers. But as I previously stated, eventually you have to deliver the goods. I don't care what your last name is. And Brian Haig does deliver in all his books. I found "The Hunted" to be exceptionally intriguing.
Haig makes it abundantly clear this book is a work of fiction. He also makes it clear the people he writes about are only too real, and their experiences that are recreated in the story did take place. This I-can-reach-out-and-touch-them quality in his characters makes the story jump off the page and embed in the reader's mind in a way no made-up story can. And the story, fictionalized or not, is hard to believe or forget.
In his Author's Note at the back of the book, Hail reveals how he was approached by a Russian couple a few years ago. The striking husband and wife had read one of his novels that was set in modern Russia. The man told Haig "he got a few things right" and wondered if the author would be interested in hearing their personal story. That story is the foundation in reality for the fictional story in "The Hunted."
If you think you are up on the recent history of the fall of the Soviet Union and its aftermath, this book will show you most westerners have no idea what it all has meant to the people who live in that part of our world. As the fictional Alex and Elena Konevitch (AKA Konanykhin) reveal their experiences at the hands of, not only the powers-that-be in post-USSR Russia, but also those in modern day America, a fabric of abuse, conspiracy, and survival is woven that is hard for the reader to wrap his mind around. If ever there were two people who have experienced the highest heights life can offer and the lowest lows life can inflict, these two have. How much of the story really happened and how much is the result of the author's imagination is the unsettling question the reader is left with at the conclusion of the final chapter.
That's where it comes in handy to be a good writer and and great story-teller, not just a guy with a famous last name.