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The Kingmaker (Sean Drummond Series)

The Kingmaker (Sean Drummond Series)

4.3 24
by Brian Haig, John Rubinstein (Read by)

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In the worst case of treason in U.S. history, General William Morrison has been charged with a breathtaking array of crimes. Oddsmakers give Sean Drummond zero chance of saving his client from a death sentence. However, his obligation runs deeper than simply professional: Morrison's wife, a CIA executive, has begged Sean to save her husband, and Drummond doesn't


In the worst case of treason in U.S. history, General William Morrison has been charged with a breathtaking array of crimes. Oddsmakers give Sean Drummond zero chance of saving his client from a death sentence. However, his obligation runs deeper than simply professional: Morrison's wife, a CIA executive, has begged Sean to save her husband, and Drummond doesn't want to disappoint his old flame. Despite ever-more-damning intelligence leaks that paint Morrison as worse than Bene- dict Arnold, Drummond bulls ahead and comes to suspect that this simple case of treason is actually a chess game being played at the highest levels by the best and brightest-one in which Morrison is merely a pawn.

Author Biography: Brian Haig is the author of two previous novels that feature Sean Drummond- Secret Sanction and Mortal Allies. He lives in Pennington, New Jersey.

Editorial Reviews

In his heart of hearts, Sean Drummond knows that he doesn't have a devil's prayer of saving General William Morrison. If even a fraction of the charges against the much-decorated military man are proven, Morrison will be executed as the worst traitor in American history. But a plea from Morrison's wife, an old flame of Drummond's, lures our hero into a case that he can't imagine winning.
Publishers Weekly
Military lawyer Sean Drummond, the wiseass hero of Haig's promising new series, ventures into the '90s aftermath of the Cold War this time out. The rollicking, free-swinging attorney is assigned to defend U.S. Army Gen. William Morrison, a Russian specialist accused of being a Soviet spy for 10 years. Drummond doesn't particularly want the job. On a professional level, he dislikes traitors. Personally, he resents the pompous Morrison. Complicating matters further, Drummond still carries a torch for Morrison's sexy wife, who had her pick of the two men years earlier and opted for the one with the higher rank. Despite all the distractions, Drummond hurls himself into the case. The action bounces back and forth in dramatic fashion between Washington, D.C., and Moscow, with Drummond finding nothing but discouragement in both capitals. It is only after two attempts on his life that he begins to suspect that Morrison was framed. Drummond's tireless investigations eventually put him face to face with a man who has been the driving force behind every Russian ruler in the past 30 years: the so-called Kingmaker. Haig's third Drummond adventure (after Mortal Allies) rolls along in high spirits, mixing clever cloak-and-dagger tricks, gutsy heroics and edgy, often humorous dialogue. Drummond at times borders on comic caricature-he personally kills five villains, stabbing one fatally in the eye with a ballpoint pen-yet he is easy to root for and fun to watch in action. Remarkably, his smart-alecky personality, expressed in one wisenheimer comment after another, remains fresh from start to finish. Agent, Luke Janklow, Janklow Nesbit. (Jan. 9) Forecast: Haig's track record, his name (he is the son of former secretary of state Alexander Haig) and ample television, radio and print advertising should help make this a big seller. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
U.S. Army lawyer Maj. Sean Drummond (Mortal Allies; Secret Sanction) returns for a third time in yet another exciting legal thriller, primarily set in Washington, DC, and Moscow. This time, he is called upon to defend Brig. Gen. William T. Morrison, who is charged with murder and treason, along with a host of other things, on behalf of Russia. Helped only by a Russian-speaking punk-rocker female lawyer with more body piercings than the law allows, Drummond is outnumbered and outgunned by the prosecution, led by his legal nemesis Eddie Golden. Worse, his client is a philandering jerk who is obnoxious, arrogant, and otherwise totally unlikable. Then villains who don't know about Drummond's Special Forces background attempt to assassinate him. In addition, Drummond must overcome massive government plots and equally massive cover-ups-topped by a "vacation" in Siberia-before justice is served. Haig seems to get better with each book, and Drummond is a marvelously imperfect hero. For most popular fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/02.]-Robert Conroy, Warren, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Old-hat spies tell shopworn lies in this third outing from a thrillermeister who's done much better (Secret Sanction, 2001, etc.). JAG (Judge Advocate General) lawyer Major Sean Drummond, who has sparkled in the past, strives manfully here, but it's hard for the razzle to dazzle (even with the help of some pretty good one-liners) when the plotting's caught in the iron grip of formula. For this series, Drummond gets lumbered with a case that has career-breaker written all over it-involving Brigadier General William T. Morrison, with whom Drummond has a history. For a brief period the two were brothers in arms and they once shared a combat assignment-concluded brilliantly-but not the accruing glory, since sneaky Morrison hogged full credit. Seasoned bureaucratic warrior that he is, Drummond could probably have forgiven him that trespass-nobody's perfect-except that Morrison then stole Drummond's college sweetheart and all-time dream girl, the staggeringly beautiful ("alabaster skin . . . scorching blue eyes . . . ") Mary Steele Morrison. Now, the mighty having plummeted-in a fall from grace matched only by Benedict Arnold's-arrogant, fast-tracking General Morrison, former US military attaché in the Moscow embassy, has been arrested, handcuffed, and hauled off to the jail in Fort Leavenworth, charged with high crimes and misdemeanors, including (gulp!) treason. And, could you believe, he wants Drummond to represent him. For his part, Drummond sees in this an enticing danger named Major Eddie Golden, "the Babe Ruth" of JAG prosecutors, who makes a practice of distributing emblematic baseball bats to attorneys he's brutalized. Drummond, the unhappy owner of a pair of these, hungers for anothergo-round with the glittering Golden. At first the evidence against Morrison seems overwhelming (natch), but, bulldog-like, Drummond hangs in until the jerrybuilt conspiracies begin their inevitable crumbling-and the you'll-never-guess-who suspects their fall. A letdown. Not terrible-just that more was expected.

Product Details

Hachette Audio
Publication date:
Sean Drummond Series , #3
Edition description:
Abridged, 4 Cassettes, 6 hours
Product dimensions:
4.12(w) x (h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Kingmaker

By Brian Haig

Warner Books

Copyright © 2003 Brian Haig
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0446530557

Chapter One

THE PRISONER WAS LED THROUGH THE DOORWAY BY A PAIR of burly MPs, who shoved him into a chair and immediately began shackling his handcuffs to the table. The table was bolted to the floor, which was bolted to the prison, and so on.

"Guys ... no need for that," I politely insisted. And was coldly ignored.

"Look, it's ridiculous," I said, with a touch more indignation. "How's he going to break out of here, much less walk two inches from this prison without being instantly recognized?" I was blowing hot air, actually to impress the prisoner more than the guards. I'm a lawyer. I'm not above such things.

The MP sergeant stuffed the shackle key in his pocket and replied, "Don't give the prisoner nothing. No pens, no pencils, no sharp objects. Knock when you're done."

He stared at me longer than necessary-a gesture meant to convey that he didn't think highly of me or what I came here to do. Well, neither did I-regarding the latter.

I gave him a cold stare back. "All right, Sergeant." The MPs scuttled from the room as I turned to examine the prisoner. It had been over ten years, and the changes were barely detectable-a tad more gray, perhaps, but he was still strikingly handsome in that chisel-featured, dark-haired, deepeyed way some women find attractive. His athlete's body had softened, butthose wide shoulders and slim waist were mostly intact. He'd always been a gym rat.

His psyche was a burned-out wreck; shoulders slumped, chin resting on his chest, arms hanging limply at his sides. Not good-little wonder they had stolen his shoelaces and belt. I bent forward and squeezed his shoulder. "Bill, look at me." Nothing. More sharply, I said, "Damn it, Billy, it's Sean Drummond. Pull yourself together and look at me."

Not so much as a twitch. The harsh tack wasn't punching through that wall of depression-perhaps something warmer, more conversational? I said, "Billy, listen ... Mary called the day after your arrest and asked me to get out here right away. She said you want me to represent you."

The "here" was the military penitentiary tacked onto the backside of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

"Mary" was his wife of the past thirteen years, and the man I was speaking to was Brigadier General William T. Morrison, until recently the U.S. military attaché in our Moscow embassy. The "day after your arrest" had been two long and miserable days earlier, the "arrest" being the one CNN had replayed over and over, of an Army general being dragged out the side door of the Moscow embassy, surrounded by FBI agents in bulletproof vests, his face a tangle of frustration and fury. Since then there had been countless newspaper articles detailing what a despicably awful bastard he was. If the reports were true, I was seated across from the most monstrous traitor since-well, I suppose since ever.

He mumbled, "How is she?" "She flew in from Moscow yesterday. She's staying with her father."

This got a dull nod, and I added, "The kids are fine. Her father has some pull with Sidwell Friends Academy, a private school that caters to celebrity children. They're hoping to get them in."

Shouldn't it help to make him think of his wife and family? He was locked down in a special isolation wing and denied any contact with the outside world: no phone calls, no letters, no notes. The authorities said the quarantine was to keep him from exposing more information or receiving smuggled-in cues from his Russian handlers. Perhaps. Unmentioned, of course, was that they hoped the social starvation would drive him babbling into the arms of his interrogators.

I crossed my legs and said, "Bill, let's consider this rationally. These are damned serious offenses. I win more than I lose, but you can find plenty of lawyers who are better. I'll name some if you'd prefer."

The response was a foot shuffle. What was he thinking? He should be wondering why I wasn't blowing ten miles of smoke up his ass. Most guys in my position would flap their arms, boast and brag, and beg and plead to represent him. The man was a lawyer's wet dream. I mean, how many general officers do you think get accused of betraying their country? I actually checked before I flew out here-Benedict Arnold was the last, and please recall that he fled to England before he could be tried, so nobody got a piece of his action.

When Morrison didn't reply, I said, "Though, if you'd like to consider me, I know you and your wife. This is personal. I'll put my heart and soul into defending you."

I paused to let that filter in and got ... nothing. "Look, is there somebody else you want? Just say so. It won't hurt my feelings. Hell, I'll even help arrange it." And indeed I would. I'd throw my heart and soul into it. I wasn't there because he'd asked for me, but because Mary begged me. And if you want the whole squalid truth, that left me conflicted, because she and I had once been, uh ... how do I delicately put this? Involved? What do you want to bet that a lawyer was the first one to utter that particular word that particular way?

Were they in the same chess club? Or did they have a torrid love affair that lasted three incredible years? Yes, incidentally, on the last point. His lips made a faint flutter, and I said, "I'm sorry ... what was that again?" "I said, I want you." "You're sure, Billy?"

His head jerked up. "God damn it, call me Billy again and I'll knock you flat on your ass. You're still a major and I'm still a general, you stupid asshole."

Well ... now there was a dose of the old William Morrison I knew, and never could stand. I was his wife's old slumber buddy, and trust me on this point: This is hardly a male-bonding thing. Nor would we have been pals, anyway, as he was a general and I was a major, and in the Army that's some hard frost, socially speaking. Besides, William T. Morrison was a stuck-up, overambitious, pretty-boy prick, and what in the hell was Mary thinking when she married him?

She could've done so much better. Like me. I reached into my briefcase and withdrew a few papers. "Okay, sign these forms. The top one requests the JAG to name me as your attorney. The second allows me to root through your records and investigate your background." I held out a pen. "But first promise you're not going to use this to stab yourself or some such shit."

He yanked it out of my hand, scratched his name on both forms, then threw the pen at me. I mumbled, "Thanks." He mumbled, "Fuck you, Drummond. I mean ... fuck you." Was this getting off on the right foot or what? I asked, "Have you admitted anything yet?" "No ... of course not. What kind of stupid asshole do you take me for?"

The man is dressed in ugly orange coveralls and is chained to a table in a high-security prison. Can this be a serious question? I said, "Keep it that way. Don't say a thing without me present. Don't hint, sidestep, deny, or evade. Guilty or innocent, your only leverage is what's locked in your head and we need to preserve that. Understand?"

"Drummond, this is my field, remember? Like I need some stupid asshole telling me how it's done? I'll run circles around any jerk-off they bring in here."

The grating arrogance I remembered so well was definitely creeping back to the surface. Was this good or bad? Other considerations aside, I suppose good. It surely helped that some semblance of his internal spirit was flogging its way into his cerebral cortex. A moment before he'd been a suicidal husk, and if something didn't seep into that vacuum, his whole being might get sucked into nothing.

Anyway, I'd done my duty. I'd warned him, and it was time to complete my spiel. "The Army's facing a time clock of thirty days to formalize your charges and get us into court to plead. A month or so later, there'll be a trial. If you're found guilty, there'll be a sentencing hearing shortly thereafter. Do I need to tell you the ultimate penalty for treason?"

This is the kind of sly query we lawyers employ when our clients are assholes. He frowned, shook his head, and I continued, "Here's how we're going to do this. I'll get a co-counsel who speaks Russian, and I'll set up a satellite office here. Then I'll start my discovery process. You understand how that works?" "Of course."

"Well, espionage cases are ... different. It's going to be a real tug-of-war."

He nodded that he understood, though really he didn't understand squat. He was going to discover that his fate hung on a bunch of secret evidence the government's most tightfisted agencies would fight tooth and nail not to release, even to his attorney; that, unlike with nearly every other type of criminal case, his chances of defending himself were crippled by security rules and stubborn bureaucrats and the government's very strong desire to burn him at the stake.

I mentioned none of this to him-yet. He was already on suicide watch, and I didn't want to send him hurtling off the ledge into eternity. I stood up and said, "I better get going. I'll stay in touch."

He looked up at me with tortured eyes. "Drummond, listen, I'm completely-" "Innocent ... right?" "Yes. Really, this whole thing is-" I held up a hand to cut him off.

I wasn't his attorney of record and had no business getting into any of this yet. Later he could tell me as many whoppers as he could dream up, and I would patiently sort the exceptionally unbelievable from the barely credible, until we settled on exactly which pack of lies we'd use for his defense.

But in retrospect I should've walked out and never returned.


Excerpted from The Kingmaker by Brian Haig Copyright © 2003 by Brian Haig
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Brian Haig is a star among the new generation of thriller writers...Haig's now on my list of must-read thriller writers.

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Kingmaker 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read Mortal Allies as my first read with Mr Haig and on a 1-to-10 scale I gave it a 6-7, but Kingmaker rates a full 10 points. Good strong story. A page turner. Always looked forward to getting back to the book. The story evolves just like a real investigation with small steps and a few major jolts when major pieces of the puzzle get revealed. The majority of 4 and 5-star recommendations out there are testimony to a good read ! Well done Brian. I ordered 2 more of your books.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I look forward to another Sean Drummond book by Brian Haig. Keep'em coming!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I felt the book was rushed to print. The first couple hundred pages dragged, and were mildy interesting compared to Secret Sanction and Mortal Allies, Brians first two publications. Drummond, the main character in Brians' book's, has previously jumped off the pages; physically your first impression is that he is a dumb jock, yet suprises you with his intellect, keen wisdom, and strong street smarts. That did not happen in this book. He was overbearing, and not nearly as loveable. The story line was not nearly as colorful, the characters only introduced on the surface, and the plot not as internally controversial. But, if you're a Sean Drummond fan, as I am, and enjoy the usual consiracy thriller with action packed twists, the sheer sexual frustration of a beautiful woman at his finger tips, and the brief bits of historical education that Brian always introduces into his books, you'll find this an easy and enjoyable read. You will however look forward to future books from Brian, in hopes that the characters will reappear in full face and personality.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This author creates suspense by using surprising twists of plot. The foreign affairs discussion reveals some pragmatic decisions made by powerful leaders. Enjoy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A veteran of over 100 television film and series episodes voice performer John Rubinstein gives an appropriately suspenseful reading to this tale of intrigue in our country's highest offices. Popular protagonist Major Sean Drummond returns in Haig's latest epic. This time out he's charged with the defense of Brigadier General William T. Morrison. It's a case of treason and Drummond really doesn't want to face the Army's toughest prosecutor. However, Morrison wants him, and so does his CIA wife, Mary, who was once close, quite close to Drummond. But wait a minute, he thought he was fighting a charge of treason, maybe perjury, but it turns out to be murder. As if that weren't enough of a surprise his co-counsel is Katrina Mazorski, she of the skin tight black leather pants and jewelry bedecked navel. Warning: no one should be fooled by her appearance. Between the two of them they unearth enough secrets to jar both Washington and Moscow. Someone is manipulating them - who and why? Haig has created a tense thriller that'll keep listeners enthralled.
harstan More than 1 year ago
US Army Brigadier General William T. Morrison is accused of treason having helped the former Soviet Union when he served in Moscow as a military attaché. In Fort Leavenworth awaiting trial, William surprisingly asks that his former buddy Judge Advocate General lawyer Major Sean Drummond represent him. Beside the fact that this case will probably end his career, Sean hates William for stealing his college girl friend, Mary Steele Morrison (aside ¿ any relation to Harry?). Instead of begging off due to a conflict of interest, he takes the case because Sean remains an idealist. The prosecution assigns Major Eddie Golden who brutalizes opponents during the trial and afterward provides a memento baseball bat to his losing opponents including two to Sean. Though William appears overwhelmingly guilty, Bulldog Drummond investigates the case in the two Cold War capitals, but finds no counter evidence. Convinced his client is guilty, Drummond changes his mind when someone tries to kill him. With renewed vigor, Sean begins unraveling a deep conspiracy with the goal leave Eddie with a Babe Ruth bat. Though very exciting, THE KINGMAKER is not quite at the level of Drummond¿s first two novels (see SECRET SANCTION and MORTAL ALLIES) as he turns more into a super physical specimen than the cerebral giant. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action, but follows the conspiracy thriller prescription with no variation to the specs. Drummond retains his attitude of combining cynical idealism with amusing one-liners that the audience will enjoy. Brian Haig has written a delightful tale that his fans and the conspiratorial buffs will enjoy just not quite attaining the Drummond quality level. Harriet Klausner