Author: Brian Haig
ISBN: 978-0-446-19559-1 Pages: 464, $25.99, Publication Date: August 12, 2009, Hardcover, Novel, Published by Grand Central Publishing
The Hunted, by Brian Haig, immediately strikes a chord. I heard this story before. Recollection of the events seems too true to be a novel. Then, you get swept up in the story and the events seem surreal! Is this fact or fiction?
Alex Konanykhin and his wife Elena are the only characters in the book who are real!
Brian Haig blends fact with fiction demonstrating the events which actually happened. He fictionalizes occurrences which caused frenzied disruption in Alex and Elena’s lives. The KGB, FBI, and INS are unlikely conspirators in this greed-filled take-over of hundreds of millions of dollars amassed by a rising star in the new Soviet Union.
Alex Konanykhin studied to be a rocket scientist at Moscow University, but never made it. Instead, he became a multi-millionaire by investing other people’s money into various new entrepreneurial schemes that became available under the embryonic democracy in Russia. At the ripe old age of 25, he achieved prominence as a mover and shaker by backing the election of Boris Yeltsin to be the leader of the Russian government. Much to the chagrin of the former leadership, changes in how business was conducted took place. Alex formed several enterprises; he was able to demonstrate that if you performed the tasks you undertook you would succeed. The old adage of do things right and the rewards will be astounding became the foundation of his newly invented empire.
Alex paid his workers more money than jobs offered by the government or other enterprises. He insisted that good workmanship be the rule and not the exception. He was able to formulate business plans rewarding the investor with unheard of profits. People trusted him and flocked to invest. He made millions by employing a method of arbitrage where he would buy goods at a low price and sell high. With the invested capital he obtained, the system worked extremely well.
The story seems too good to be true that this young man could rise to a position of prominence, without creating enemies or jealousy. He hires a former KGB leader to head up security for all of his companies. This is the start of his downfall. On a trip to Budapest, he and his wife are kidnapped by thugs who demand he sign over his companies to them. Additionally, he is branded by a hot iron with the Russian symbol of the hammer and sickle. He is forced to sign away his holdings to these remnants of the previous regime. Even though suffering from extreme torture, Alex remains very clever, and devises a way to escape the clutches of these henchmen.
Alex and Elena arrive in the United States and seek asylum as political refugees. Granted this reprieve, they set up housekeeping in Watergate, a famous apartment complex in Washington DC. Soon, troubles start all over again. The FBI persuades the INS to begin a deportation hearing to send Alex and Elena back to Russia. Those controlling his companies and money wish to dispose of him permanently so they cannot be challenged for their actions, and plans are formulated for his assassination upon his return.
Deportation hearings are commenced, and what was to have been a short trial, stretches into 3 years with Alex being shuffled between several Federal Prisons before finally having his day in court.
How the story ends and the people involved make a great tale. However, Alex wrote a book Defiance, where he tells the whole story as it actually happened, according to him. Brian Haig says to document the real events would probably have taken years. Instead of the proof required to back everything up as in a true biography, he agreed with Alex Konanykhin, to present his story as set forth in this novel.
The Hunted is well written, keeps you in suspense, and is a page-turner of the highest magnitude. After only 60 pages, you are hooked. You cannot put the book down until you have read the next episode, and then you find out you have finished the book! As a sidelight, go to the Internet and look up Alex Konanykhin. Many TV stations still have their broadcasts online telling the real events. These events do not deter from The Hunted, but make you realize old and new Russia still have the same methods of treachery, only some of the faces have changed.