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The Capitol Game    by Brian Haig order for
Capitol Game
by Brian Haig
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2010 (2010)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Brian Haig, son of former Secretary of State Alexander Haig and once special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has moved on from his excellent series starring irreverent JAG attorney Sean Drummond to standalone thrillers that continue to build on his knowledge of Washington military politics. The Capitol Game is the latest.

The story opens on an attack on an American unit in Iraq, in which Captain Bill Forrest (a good man, an outstanding leader, a beloved husband and the father of two little blonde girls) is killed. Their 'thin-skinned death trap' of a Humvee was long overdue for replacement, but corrupt and inept contractors delayed the upgrades. Readers wonder how this relates to the story that follows ...

Jack Wiley, the lead, is one of those too good to be true, larger than life characters - a Princeton graduate, 'a combat vet and genuine hero to boot', and 'a steady rainmaker' in his subsequent Wall Street career. When he makes a proposal to the Capitol Group - whose senior executives are Washington mandarins including a corrupt ex-President (Bill Cantor) and a previous secretary of defense - he gets their attention. It involves the takeover of a company, Arvan Chemicals, that has developed a new polymer, 'a thin coat of paint that could deflect a rocket.'

Jack, the 'fifteen-billion-dollar man' closes the deal and the Capitol Group move fast to exploit their new acquisition. They arrange investment funding by the Saudis, use their influence to short circuit the Pentagon procurement process, and move fast to apply polymer-coating to military vehicles. They also start looking hard for dirt (manufactured or otherwise) they can use to control Jack. While all this develops, Haig introduces another key character, brilliant lawyer Mia Jenson, who inexplicably gave up lucrative corporate work to sign on with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, where she is 'absurdly overqualified'. Mia begins investigating the Capitol Group.

Where does all this lead? You'll have to read The Capitol Game to find out, but it's very, very clever and corrupt corporate executives who short change the military with shoddy products get exactly what they deserve. However, though the story is a great one, it's rather cerebral; it's hard to connect to the characters. Though I enjoyed The Capitol Game's plot and message, I do miss the constant flow of Sean Drummond's quips and witticisms and hope his series will return soon.

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