Brian Haig,
Mortal Allies
(Time Warner, 2002)

The first tape of Brian Haig's Mortal Allies is truly a turn off. The setup for this story is nothing short of disgusting and not for the squeamish at all. Fortunately, if you can make it past the beginning, the tale is actually quite interesting and presented quite expertly by reader John Rubinstein. Perhaps I should go in to a bit more detail.

Sean Drummond is an Army lawyer who first appeared in Haig's debut novel, Secret Sanction. In Mortal Allies, Drummond has his leave in Bermuda cut unexpectedly short when he is ordered to appear in South Korea in short order. The U.S. military has maintained a presence on the peninsula for five decades. In that time many crimes by Americans on the native population have been perpetrated. Drummond has been called in to defend an officer who has been charged with crimes that have the potential of severing the U.S.-South Korean alliance.

What crime could be so heinous? What was Drummond's client charged with? As he learns upon his arrival, his client has been accused of sodomizing the son of a high Korean official. The perpetrator then apparently strangled his victim before sodomizing him again. I don't know about you, but even listening to someone mention necrophilia makes my stomach turn. I was close to popping out the tape and writing a scathing review right then. But since I was driving my car while listening, I was somewhat a captive audience.

I am glad I continued listening to the story. By this point in the tale, I only knew what the American officer was accused of. Over the next several hours, I followed Drummond and his old law school nemesis, Katherine Carlson, take on a case involving more than an individual who might be "morally challenged" in some people's minds. This audiobook has intrigue, espionage, mystery, love interests and more murder.

All six hours of Mortal Allies is read by John Rubinstein. You might know him from Another Stakeout on the big screen or Perfect Murder, Perfect Town on the little screen. He also writes music for films. Rubinstein has recorded over a dozen books on tape.

Haig, currently living in New Jersey, graduated from West Point and retired from the Army after serving as special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is the son of former Secretary of State Alexander Haig.

Mortal Allies is a good story. Even though Drummond is a repeat character, you don't have to be familiar with his introduction in Secret Sanction to follow what happens in Mortal Allies. Just be forewarned that the crimes are hard to stomach when described in detail. I felt a little blindsided -- the story synopsis on the back of the cassette case did not prepare me for what I heard. Perhaps it was this initial shock that made Mortal Allies all that much more captivating entertainment in the end.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 10 August 2002

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