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Private Sector    by Brian Haig order for
Private Sector
by Brian Haig
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've been hooked on Haig's protagonist, Major Sean Drummond, since his first appearance in Secret Sanction. Surprisingly for an army officer, he does not take well to authority and is not much of a team player. Sean follows his own drummer with strong focus and smart-assed attitude. Woe betide any bad guy who gets in his way.

Haig took on ethnic cleansing in Secret Sanction, gays in the military in Mortal Allies, and global conspiracy in The Kingmaker. Private Sector looks at money laundering and the compromises made by intelligence services in their war against drug dealers and terrorists around the world. Of course compromise is another thing Drummond does not do well; he has a 'simpleminded need for moral clarity' and his bull in a china shop approach blasts right through it.

The major's boss, General Clapper, hands Drummond a most unwelcome assignment in the Working With Industry Program. Captain Lisa Morrow is in there before him, and has been working as a corporate lawyer with Culper, Hutch, and Westin for a year already. She was Drummond's Kosovo partner, who became a friend, and might become more. Sean hopes to get quickly fired back to the military from the law firm, but instead is assigned to work with telecom giant Morris Networks on a challenge to a secure network contract previously awarded to them.

While Sean is searching for ways to wiggle out of his new role, and wondering about a relationship with Lisa, her neck is snapped in a Pentagon parking lot, in what soon seems to be only the first of many serial killings. Other professional women are targeted and, as often happens with serial killers, the method becomes more and more brutal. Sean meets Lisa's family, including her sister Janet, a tough assistant DA in Boston, who pushes in on the investigation.

Complicating the picture is CID Chief Warrant Spinelli, who raises Sean's hackles whenever they meet, probably because they are so much alike. Janet's ambitious ex-lover, FBI agent George Meany, likes to throw his weight around and wants her back. And what is the CIA's role in events? Of course, Sean and Janet investigate together and arouse the killer's interest and ire. At the same time, Drummond's conflicted relationship with his temporary employers heats up.

Eventually the flag of national security is waved in front of Sean and he faces a difficult choice. But when our hero doesn't like his options he makes new ones. He punishes the perpetrators in a satisfactory (but is it moral?) ending, saying 'Qui facit per alium facit per se ... He who does through another does through himself.' Though I lament Imelda's absence, I found Private Sector an engaging read. It ends with new relationships, both personal and professional in the Major's life, and begs the question, what next?

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