The President's Assassin

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In The President's Assassin, the fifth novel in Brian Haig's series, Major Sean Drummond, a Judge Advocate General attorney, is loaned to the CIA when a $100 million bounty is posted on the President. To prove that they are serious, a team of assassins kills the White House chief of staff, the President's spokesperson, a Supreme Court justice, and several Secret Service agents, family members, and innocent bystanders. Working with FBI agent Jennie Margold, a beautiful criminal psychologist, Drummond has two days to catch the villains before the President, in their words, “is history.”

Haig, a former special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and son of former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, offers an insider's view of Washington and the military. The most fascinating aspect of The President's Assassin is how most of those ostensibly involved in protecting the Commander-in-Chief are more concerned with avoiding blame and exploiting the crisis to advance their careers. Haig strongly implies that the various branches of government are incapable of cooperating. He clearly shares the viewpoint of his cynical hero who has long abandoned naive patriotism.

The wisecracking, sarcastic Drummond is at odds with almost everyone, especially George Meany, Margold's opportunistic boss. The indelicately named Meany is the former fiancé of Drummond's lover, Janet Morrow, and the two clashed in Haig's previous novel, Private Sector (2003). Drummond knows he is being set up as the scapegoat should anything go wrong.

The President's Assassin has a few annoying flaws. While Drummond's smart mouth is essential to his character, it grows a bit tiresome. Haig forgets about Janet and never has Drummond contact her during his ordeal. Many readers will know the identity of the criminal mastermind long before Drummond, and Haig drags in a heavy-handed psychological explanation for the culprit's behavior. Nevertheless, Haig's realistic details make what could have been a farfetched plot credible and his tale a riveting page turner.