Tuesday, March 24, 2015


THE NIGHT CREW by Brian Haig (Thomas & Mercer, 2015)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

A terrific thriller from Brian Haig that blends legal and political manoeuvring against the all-too-real backdrop of military indiscipline and atrocities during overseas wars.

Lieutenant Colonel Sean Drummond finds himself strong-armed by superiors into co-counseling a lose-lose court martial case with anti-army civilian lawyer. Katherine Carlson, who isn't his favourite person after their mixed history, personally and professionally.

His unsophisticated client is one of five part-time soldiers accused of torturing and humiliating enemy prisoners abroad, is proud of what she did and thinks she was only following orders that no one else can confirm. Is she wide-eyed or wicked? As the evidence mounts against her, and Drummond finds himself scrabbling for answers about what really happened and who knew about it, military and political stonewalling looks likely to submarine any reasonable defence.

Could this be part of something larger, or has Drummond just found himself with a poisoned chalice, defending an evil woman, alongside a hated legal colleague who'll do anything to make the army look bad?

Haig writes very well, sucking the reader in to a swirling, intriguing tale set against fictionalised version of true life military prison atrocities and cover-ups in recent wars (eg Abu Ghraib). Haig, who is former military himself, had taken a long break from his Sean Drummond books (the last was in 2007), but I was coming to the series and the character, fresh. At first I was a little unsure about Drummond and Carlson, who seemed caricatures of an army defender and anti-war crusader, but as the page-turning tale unfolded more and more layers and shades of grey emerged. Drummond's cockiness shifts from irritating to fascinating as I read more about him and witnessed his beliefs and behaviours (those who have read earlier books in the series will have already experienced some of the ways in which he is deeper than he seems at first blush).

There's a very strong voice, and narrative drive, in THE NIGHT CREW - it's a propulsive page-turner where Haig demonstrates his deep knowledge of and insight into the US military and how it intersects with political and civilian life. Questions and conflicts are raised, and not easily answered in a world where certainty is valued even where it doesn't exist. There were plenty of plot twists for thriller fans, and underlying thought-provoking themes that may leave you wondering long after you close the book.

I was pleasantly surprised how much I really enjoyed this book. After I finished I knew I'd be reading much more of Haig's work and Lt Col Drummond's adventures in future. Highly recommended.

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