In The Hunted by Brian Haig, Alex Konevitch is an entrepreneur in a time and place where entrepreneurs are enemies to the state – communist Russia. Strong willed and full of boundless energy, Alex isn’t going to let a little thing like the Russian government stop him. He fights the system in the only way that he can. He backs the election of Boris Yeltsin and helps to usher in a new era of free enterprise, a system that Alex knows and uses very well. While still in his 20s, he’s the wealthiest man in Russia. Then things take the wrong turn…
His employees are being killed. Even Alex and his wife, Elena, fear for their lives. In order to protect his wife and employees, Alex makes the biggest mistake of his young life – he hires the former KGB leader, Golitsin, as his security chief. Golitsin wastes little time in stripping Alex of everything he’s spent his life accumulating using the familiar KGB tools of kidnapping and torture. The former richest man in Russia must make a desperate run to the United States and leave his money and business in the greedy hands of the former KGB leader.
Even in the US, Alex and Elena’s troubles are far from over. With his newfound wealth, Golitsin (and his partners) pursue the couple relentlessly, accusing them of the very crimes that he committed. Eventually, Golitsin enlists the aid of the FBI and the INS in his pursuit. Alex must suffer through years of prison before finally getting his day in court where he must prevent his deportation back to Russia and his eventual demise.
Brian Haig based The Hunted on the true story of Alex Konanykhin. As with all of Haig’s novels, The Hunted is full of suspense and action. You are treated to a shadowy world of high placed criminals relentlessly stalking a man whose only crime was being successful. Both the United States and Russian governments conspire against the man as he struggles for his freedom.
The first half of the book details Alex’s rise to prominence in Russia and his eventual flight from the conspiracy set against him. The second half of the book details Alex’s struggles within the legal system of the United States. Each half of the book could have easily comprised separate novels and probably should have. Although the primary protagonists and antagonists were well defined, some of the other major players in this thriller were a little flat.
In addition, Haig clings desperately to head-popping, i.e. he jumps into the mind of the character in order to provide the motivations behind the actions. Although a fairly common literary device, Haig does it with such a dizzying speed that it’s occasionally difficult to determine what’s being thought and what’s being said.
Neither weakness truly detracts from this novel. Fans of Brian Haig, fans of political thrillers, fans of thrillers in general will savor each chapter as they watch Alex struggle against the seemingly overwhelming odds stacked against him.