THE HUNTED by Brian Haig
Grand Central Publishing;(August 12, 2009), 464 pages
The author takes a break from his excellent Sean “Bulldog” Drummond series with this stand-alone thriller. Based on/Inspired by a true story and set during the break-up of the Soviet Union, The Hunted tells the story of Alex and Elena Konevitch, (in real-life Alex and Elena Konanykhin). Alex, a financial wunderkind, capitalizes on Gorbachev’s perestroika or restructuring of the Soviet/Russian economy and becomes wealthy – very wealthy. And after financially backing Boris Yeltsin, he becomes the target of a corrupt and evil cabal of Russian extortionists – headed by an ex-KGB senior official – is robbed of his fortune and framed for embezzlement.
Poor Alex and Elena flee Mother Russia with little more than the clothes on their backs; first to Eastern Europe and then to the U.S., only to be ensnared further here by an opportunistic and bullying FBI head – whose idea of law and order has little to do with legality, but rather all to do with “career advancement. Even if only half of this tale is true, the real Alex and Elena experienced an unfathomable Kafkaesque nightmare.
One would think The Hunted would be a page-turner. Unfortunately – and it pains me to write this - it’s not. Although the “challenges” faced by the Konevitches and their super-human efforts in not only surviving, but righting the wrong inflicted on them, makes for a great tribute to the human spirit – the telling of the story is rote and the characters little more than one-dimensional. This is an heroic tale, which unfortunately doesn’t get its due here – possibly the author is too close to his real-life protagonist(s) which is understandable, and felt restrained in telling their story. Kudos to Haig for taking up his pen to “right this wrong”; unfortunately as a work of fiction, and particularly as a “thriller”, The Hunted falls short.
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